Sometimes we go see live theatre to challenge our perceptions about life--to dissect social constructions or to challenge our beliefs of the world around us. And sometimes, we just go to have a damn good time.
It’s the latter motivation that should drive you down to Hyde Park’s Court Theatre for Five Guys Named Moe. From the moment the “Moes” squeeze through a radio to take the stage, their energetic antics whisk you off to a world where nothing else much matters, save for jazz music and, of course, Moes. Fair warning, though: dancing in your seat (or maybe even the aisle) is required.
Luckily, all of the necessary toe tapping and head bopping makes for a distraction from the play’s “plot,” if one can call it that. The show begins with Nomax (Stephen Allen) taking solace from recent heartbreak by immersing himself in jazz and booze when, suddenly, his solitude is broken: five men named Moe emerge out of Nomax’s radio, prepared to teach him valuable life lessons through his favorite medium. These “lessons” range from humorous songs about love to more serious numbers about alcoholism, and it’s this odd mix of heavier but undeveloped subjects that make the thin plot so ineffective. Yet Louis Jordan’s music saves the day--his upbeat oeuvre overpowering the slim storyline’s shortcomings.
The multi-talented cast at Court Theatre certainly helps one forget too. The five Moes are a dynamic, animated bunch who take turns showcasing their musical, dancing, and comedic talents. Lorenzo Rush Jr. (Big Moe) captivates the audience with his booming voice and a series of masterful facial expressions, and Eric Andrews Lewis (No Moe) amps up his solo numbers with acrobatics and pirouettes. Darrian Ford (Little Moe) adds more high notes with his singing, while James Earl Jones II (Eat Moe) and Kelvin Roston Jr. (Four-Eyed Moe) charm the audience with their exceptional comedic timing.
At the helm of it all, though, is the tremendous jazz band, led by Abdul Hamid Royal. The show simply would not be the same without the 6 piece ensemble that plays flawlessly from start to finish.
Will your life be changed by these Five Guys Named Moe? Probably not. But if you sit back and allow this lively bunch to take you away with some jazz-fueled antics, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable way to spend an evening.
Review by Emily Schmidt
Five Guys Named Moe continues at Court Theatre through October 8th. Run time: 2 hours. More information here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.