“Let the Good Times Roll” with FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE!

by Lila Achuff

“Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” so pay attention, Gang! Do any of these songs sound familiar? “Caldonia”… “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”… “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”… “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”… to name just a few of the more well-known ones in this musical revue, FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, written by Clarke Peters, music and lyrics by Louis Jordan (not to be confused with Louis Jourdan, the French film actor) and others, directed by Tommy Fisher, and choreographed by Jody Anderson. If you’re into upbeat jazz, blues, boogie-woogie and calypso music, come join the Wilmington Drama League in celebrating their 78th season! And you might even have a chance to participate! The operating phrase is, “The more the merrier!” Get it? Dancing in the aisles is encouraged… (because I said so!)

The cast of FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, running at Wilmington Drama League through February 5 in Wilmington DE. (Photo by Christophe Bramfitt)

The joints were jumpin’ in the 40’s (Be still my heart!) with Louis Jordan (1908-1975) as alto sax player and band leader of the Tympany Five. His reign of fame ran from the late 30’s through to the early 50’s with his popularity with black and white audiences happening in the latter part of the swing era when he was known as “The King of the Jukebox”. Jordan’s popularity waned in the 60’s just as all big bands were dying out then.

FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE originated in the UK in 1990; it premiered on Broadway in 1992 but only lasted 445 performances. Hmmm… There was a revival of the show in London as recent as 2010.

I’m hoping for a lively run at the Wilmington Drama League. How could it not? Out of nowhere, well, out of a 30’s style radio (right brain stuff) pops Big Moe (André Dion Wills), No Moe (Jerry Mumford), Eat Moe (John Owens), Little Moe (Alvin A. Hall, Jr.) and Four-Eyed Moe (David Bazemore… get thee to Broadway ASAP) singin’ and dancin’ (think male musical version of the Pointer Sisters and the Andrews Sisters) in the face of Nomax (George Fletcher III) who’s down on his luck because his girl left him and he’s drowning his sorrows in booze (but if I see that flask one more time…). Through song and dance they comfort him, teach him about life and love, and set him on the straight and narrow. Singing harmony needs work. But a work in progress is a good thing, guys.

The set was cleverly designed so that we are either in Nomax’ living room or at a nightclub. Six musicians playing mostly horns (OUTSTANDING) behind a scrim… scrim comes up… HAPPY HOUR! (Let me up there!) André Dion Wills (Big Moe) is the music director. No way! As Big Moe, I needed you to be more “out there” meaning I’d like to see more of your own personality come out in such a way that would make your performance forever memorable, at least to me. No Broadway recommendation yet. (I know people.) And while I’m at it… Nomax, I felt your performance to be what I call unidimensional. Just your shirt hanging out and flask in hand wasn’t enough for me. What I expect from you is called acting. (Enter, Director.) I did like your loose way of dancing, though. That was cool. And if you weren’t dancing, then my imagination is working in overdrive. The Funky Butt Dancers (Tatiana Lofton, Kizzy Saunders and Tia Thomas) added feminine pizzazz to the show. For an extra added attraction, Tia and the pianist entertain us in song in the lobby during intermission.

Sugggestion: Before seeing the show, go to YouTube and listen to the songs of the show. You will likely find that you’re familiar with quite a few of them. Then you bring that “energy” and your buds to the show too. It will make it all the more fun. Oh, and bring your elders because it will just puff ‘em up!

Push Ka Pi Shi Pie (I can’t tell you everything…)

Until the next show…

Book by Clarke Peters
Music and Lyrics by Louis Jordan
Directed by Tommy Fisher
January 21 – February 5, 2011
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd
Wilmington, DE 19802
(302) 764-1172

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