By Martie Thompson
The premise is simple … down on his luck Nomax is lonely and drunk and is visited by five men who jump out of an old timey radio to perform songs by R&B pioneer Louis Jordan in this revue at Alhambra Theatre and Dining entitled “Five Guys Named Moe.” Part conscience and part advisors, the five singers, all named Moe, appear to an increasingly accepting and collaborative Nomax (Jereme Raickett).
The strength of this show is the vocal talent of the five guys — Big Moe (Byron Glenn Willis), No Moe (Damien DeShaun Smith), Little Moe (David Berry), Eat Moe (Rendell Anthony DeBose), and Four-Eyed Moe (Darryl Reuben Hall) — and the infectious quality of Jordan’s music. (Raickett, as Nomax, is equally gifted.)
A true ensemble effort, the vocals are so strong it is difficult to single out any member of the cast. The five Moes and Nomax have an enjoyable chemistry that charms early on, while their voices blend into smooth harmonies.
From the hoedown notes of “Safe, Sane and Single” to the island beat of “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie,” Jordan’s music runs the gamut of musical styles. “Saturday Night Fish Fry” is even acknowledged to be a precursor to modern rap music. “Is You Is or Is Your Ain’t my Baby?” is probably the revue’s best known hit, but it doesn’t matter as the Moes handle each song and genre with jubilant energy.
The accompanying jazz band, which remains inside the oversized old timey radio on the stage due to some creative lighting and placement of an opaque curtain, is terrific. Featured are Anthony Felton on keyboards, Chanel Miller on drums, Brooks Clarke on electric bass, Paul Jackson on trumpet, Alex Hernandez on reed and Nicholas Carter on trombone. Like the singers, they switch musical styles effortlessly.
Choreography by James Kinney is fast paced and entertaining. All the Moes have their individual personalities and dance and act accordingly. From Little Moe in his shiny shoes mugging for the audience to Eat Moe wondering where his next meal is coming from, there is a lot to keep one’s attention. An audience participation conga line concludes the first act and the party continues into the cabaret featured in the second act.
Chef DeJuan Roy has once again created a special menu inspired by the show. Diners have the option of Moe’s Salad or Field Pea Soup for the first course and then Turkey Meatloaf, Saturday Night Fish Fry, Smoked Boston Butt or Curry Sweet Potato Stew for an entree. Save room for delicious Blueberry Pie Pockets or a Mini Pistachio Bundt Cake for dessert.
“Five Guys Named Moe” will be on stage at Alhambra Theatre and Dining through May 6. Visit www.alhambrajax.com to buy tickets.