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BWW Reviews: Gimme Some 'Moe' of CATCO's FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE

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If you liked Short North Stage's recent production of "Passing Strange", you'll love CATCO's current show, "Five Guys Named Moe". Both musicals, each show features a young, lost, African-American man who gets a schooling from some older, wiser musicians. While the former was a good show in its own right, CATCO's "Five Guys Named Moe" production is an entire ensemble as smooth as the jazz tones the characters sing, in glorious harmony. A musical with a book by Clarke Peters and lyrics and music by Louis Jordan, "Five Guys Named Moe" tells the tale of Nomax (Kevin Ferguson), whose girlfriend has left him and who is without money. He flips on his radio, seeking some jazz comfort, and finds Big Moe(Troy Anthony Harris), Four-Eyed Moe(LaRon Lee Hudson), Eat Moe(Japhael Bondurant), No Moe(Terrence BrIan Brown), and Little Moe(Franklin Grace) bringing wisdom through the hit songs of jazz revolutionary songwriter and saxophonist Louis Jordan.

Though the plot is thin, and barely enough to string together a plausible story, when the singing and stage presence is as dynamic as these gentlemen are, you really don't care- it's just plain great entertainment. Director Steven Anderson hit a gold mine when casting this show, and "the Moes" are some of the best and brightest talent seen on any Columbus stage this year. Complimented by fun, but understated choreography by Liz Wheeler, these men move well, and can sing like few others. The music, which ranges from Calypso funk, to rocking jazz, and soulful blues, is delightful throughout, and Musical Director, Matt Clemens, along with live band (Zach Compton-drums, Ryan Hamilton-trombone, Ben Huntoon-trumpet, Brian Lang-saxophone, David Wolbert-bass) should be commended.

The "Moes" and Nomax are super talented individuals, but together, they are simply fabulous. Throughout the two-act show, each is unique, thoroughly charming, and a blast to watch. Ferguson is cocky without being overbearing, and makes the audience empathize with his self-created fate. The suave Troy Anthony Harris on "Caldonia" works the crowd well and is a commanding stage presence, not only in height. LaRon Lee Hudson is delightfully comedic, especially in "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens". Japhael Bondurant brings a gospel choir soulfulness with "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying", and Franklin Grace with Terrence BrIan Brown on "Dad Gum Ya Hide Boy" are stellar. The "Moes" harmonies are electric, perhaps best seen on favorite, "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" and the theme song, "Five Guys Named Moe". They play off of each other exceptionally well, "Safe, Sane, and Single", being a great example of their individuality, as well as comraderie. Each of these men compliments each other so well, that their individual talent, though immense, creates an ensemble that is perfection.

"Five Guys Named Moe" is charisma amplified, with a healthy dose of humor, and some of the best vocal talent you'll find on a local stage. If that isn't worth your ticket price, there's always the pre-intermission audience participation conga line to the lobby bar. Either way, CATCO's "Five Guys Named Moe" will leave you wishing for just a little "moe" of this terrific show.

"Five Guys Named Moe" is presented at the Riffe Center in Studio 2, May 1-26th. For additional information, including show times/dates, and ticketing details, please go to: http://catco.org/shows/2012-2013/five-guys-named-moe%20.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Generation Photography


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From This Author Lisa Norris

Lisa grew up participating in community theater groups such as Cincinnati Young People's Theater (CYPT) in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, both in front of and behind (read more...)