Bereft of any real plot, but big on concept, Clarke Peters’ popular musical Five Guys Named Moe contains enough attitude and colourful costumes to provide a proper festive feel.
Director Paulette Randall makes great use of a circular, conveyer-belted walkway at the big grey and white Spiegeltent on Festival Square, effectively extending the stage round the edge of the central cabaret seating area. This adds a dynamic edge to the revue-style show while creating an extra layer of intimacy.
Matt Mills gives the musical its shape as the down on his luck Nomax. While in a drunken stupor, he imagines the five Moes into existence to provide him with advice to mend his failing romance via the medium of Louis Jordan’s hits – this show is hot in many ways but not on female emancipation.
Mills has a wide, dynamic range from wistful, half whispered lyrics to full-on belters. The five guys are the antithesis of his hang-dog attitude. There’s crisp detail in Jason Pennycooke’s choreography – including some neat tap routines – and plenty of amiable mugging as they pick out characters from the songs. All five give big vocal performances, although sometimes they verge on feeling forced. Cameron Johnson’s Big Moe and Jacob Maynard’s No Moe are particularly strong, but it’s the onstage band, led by Joseph Roberts on electric double bass, who really get things smoking.