Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Stephen J. Albert, Executive Director, opens its 2017-2018 season with Five Guys Named Moe by Clarke Peters, directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson, Music Director Abdul Hamid Royal and Associate Director Felicia P. Fields. Five Guys Named Moe, which features Louis Jordan’s greatest hits, runs September 7 – October 8, 2017 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. The press opening is September 16, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
"Ron OJ Parson and Felicia Fields have pulled together an incredible team for Five Guys Named Moe," says Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director. "This show marks Ron's first musical at Court, and this production is going to make a lot of people bounce! It will be a great way to launch the season."
A lively musical tribute to the hit songs of saxophonist and songwriter Louis Jordan, Five Guys Named Moe introduces Nomax: a broke, newly single guy singing the blues late into the night. Suddenly, five unexpected friends – Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe, and Little Moe – emerge from his radio to help ease his broken heart. Pioneering musician Louis Jordan’s new approach to jazz paved the way for rock and roll in the 1950s.
"We are excited to produce this show in Court's intimate setting," says Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson. "We will keep Louis Jordan's spirit alive as we tell this story, and we'll have a lot of fun with our audiences along the way."
The cast of Five Guys Named Moe includes Stephen Allen (Nomax), Darrian Ford (Little Moe), James Earl Jones II (Eat Moe), Eric Andrews Lewis (No Moe), Kelvin Roston, Jr. (Four-Eyed Moe) and Lorenzo Rush, Jr. (Big Moe).
The creative team includes Courtney O’Neill (scenic design), Michael Alan Stein (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design) and Chris Carter (choreography). The Stage Manager is Erin Albrecht.
About the Artists
RON OJ PARSON (Resident Artist, Director) hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a Resident Artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of the Onyx Theatre Ensemble, and co-founder of the Beyond the Stage Theatre Project. Ron is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, and associate artist at Writers Theatre and Northlight. Ron has worked with Black Ensemble Theatre, ETA, Congo Square Theatre, Goodman, Writers, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theater Company, Steppenwolf, Chicago Theatre Company, and City Lit. Regional theatres include Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage, Studio Theatre, Studio Arena Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Signature Theatre (New York), Alliance Theatre, South Coast Rep, and Pasadena Playhouse. In Canada, Ron directed the world premiere of Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Ron is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.
ABDUL HAMID ROYAL (Music Director/Pianist) won the Ovation Award, the Los Angels Drama Critics Circle Award, the SAGE Award, and the NAACP Image Award for his work on The Gospel at Colonus; the NAACP Image Award for Broadway’s Five Guys Named Moe; and the Stage Scene LA Award for Outstanding Musical Direction on Recorded in Hollywood. Broadway/International/National Music Director: Five Guys Named Moe, Twist, Sophisticated Ladies, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Jelly’s Last Jam, The Wiz, Truly Blessed, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Betsy Brown, Concerts for the Earth, Colors of Christmas, Smokey Joe’s Café, The Life. Composer/Arranger: Five Guys Named Moe, Truly Blessed, Body and Soul, Twist, Cole Porter Festival, Colors of Christmas. Recording Artists: Natalie Cole, Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, Cy Coleman, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Liza Minelli, Ashford & Simpson, Martha Wash, Jennifer Holliday, Jeffrey Osborne, Maurice Hines, Melba Moore, Patti Austin, Masashi Sada, Patti LaBelle, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Stevie Wonder, David Foster, Doc Powell, The LA Philharmonic, Ty Herndon, Roberta Flack, Brenda Russell, and Phil Collins.
FELICIA P. FIELDS (Associate Director) was last seen at Court stage headlining her own concert and in Seven Guitars. She is best known for her portrayal of Sofia in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, for which she received a Tony nomination, Clarence Derwitt Award, and several other awards. She has performed in shows at the Marriott, Goodman, Milwaukee Rep, Drury Lane, Broadway in Chicago, Northlight, Theatre at the Center, and more as well as many productions throughout the United States and Canada, commercials, voice-overs, and films. Felicia has received several Jeff nominations, garnering one for Sophisticated Ladies. TV: Chicago Fire, Sense 8,and Who gets the dog? She travels regularly throughout the United States with productions of Low Down Dirty Blues and I’ll Take You There. She can be seen next in the film Slice with Chance the Rapper.
STEPHEN ‘BLU’ ALLEN (Nomax) makes his Court Theatre debut. Previous Chicago credits include In The Heights and The Scottsboro Boys with Porchlight Music Theatre. He was last seen in Jesus Christ Superstar at The Paramount Theatre.
DARRIAN FORD (Little Moe) A Chicago native, Ford moved to New York City at 18 to dance in the companies of Alvin Ailey and Donald Byrd/The Group. He made his Broadway debut as Charlie in State Fair, and appeared in The Who's Tommy(Broadway/First National), as well as the first national Broadway tours of Smokey Joe’s Cafe and The Color Purple. He co-starred opposite Halle Berry in HBO's Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and had a recurring role on Disney's That’s So Raven. The Cooke Book: The Music of Sam Cooke, Ford’s original concept concert, opened in 2008 and also tours nationally. His new original vocal jazz album, The New Standard, will release September 30, 2017.
JAMES EARL JONES II (Eat Moe) Chicago credits include She Loves Me, October Sky, Elf, Dreamgirls, The Full Monty (Marriott Theatre); Satchmo at the Waldorf, The Secret Garden, The Good Book, Porgy and Bess(Court); Wonderful Town, Carlyle (Goodman); Scottsboro Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim (Porchlight Music Theatre); Shrek (Chicago Shakespeare); Cymbeline (First Folio); Sweet Charity, Company (Writers); Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting (Lookingglass); Porgy and Bess (Lyric Opera,San Francisco Opera); The Wiz (TATC); Aida, Spamalot, Ragtime (Drury Lane); A Civil War Christmas (Northlight); Annie Get Your Gun (Ravinia Festival); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway in Chicago); and Dessa Rose (Apple Tree). National tours: Porgy and Bess. Television/film: Pokerhouse, Chicago Fire, Hot Date, and Empire. James is represented by Stewart Talent.
ERIC A. LEWIS (No Moe) was last seen in the off-broadway hit, Spamilton. Chicago credits include Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls at Porchlight Theatre, which earned him a Jeff Award; Disney’s The Little Mermaid, In the Heights, and Tommy (Paramount Theater); My Way, Women on the Verge and All Shook Up (Theater at the Center); Parade at BoHo Theatre; and How to Succeed in Business…, Sister Act, and Seussical(Marriott Theatre); and Once Upon a People (Black Ensemble Theater). Regional credits: Fireside Theatre, Dreamgirls at Milwaukee Rep.
KELVIN ROSTON JR (Four Eyed Moe) Court credits: Seven Guitars, Porgy and Bess, Ma Rainy’s Black Bottom. Other Chicagoland theaters: Congo Square, Paramount, Marriott-Lincolnshire, Goodman,Writers, Black Ensemble, Timeline, Northlight, Steppenwolf. Regional theatres: The Black Rep (St. Louis, MO), Fulton (Lancaster, PA), New Theatre Restaurant (Overland Park, KS), MSMT (Brunswick, ME), Baltimore Center Stage (Baltimore, MD). International: Orb (Tokyo, JP), Festival Hall (Osaka, JP). Television: Chicago Med, Chicago PD, KFC, Instant Care. Film: Get a Job, Princess Cyd, Breathing Room. Kelvin is an artistic associate of Congo Square Theatre, a member of AEA, and represented by Paonessa Talent.
LORENZO RUSH, JR. (Big Moe) Chicago credits include: Jesus Christ Superstar(Paramount); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Jeff Award); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Porchlight Music Theater); Dreamgirls, City of Angels (Marriott Theater); Parade (BoHo Theater). Regional Credits includes: Shrek, Big River and Ragtime (Grandstreet Theater). TV/Film: Sirens on USA. Lorenzo received his BA in Musical Theater at Western Illinois University.
Five, four, and three play subscriptions to Court’s 2017/18 season range from $96 to $300 and are on sale now. To purchase a subscription or to receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website at www.CourtTheatre.org. Individual tickets for all shows will be available on August 1st.
Court Theatre is guided by its mission to discover the power of classic theatre. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. Court revives lost masterpieces, illuminates familiar texts, and distinguishes fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.
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