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Review: 5 GUYS NAMED MOE at Black Theatre Troupe

Review: 5 GUYS NAMED MOE at Black Theatre Troupe

5 Guy's Named Moe wow's audiences as the true hidden gem of the valley, Black Theatre Troupe

One thing that is on the same level if not steps above in importance when it comes to shows and theatre is visibility. Although it is great to be able to find amazing theatre as hidden gems in the valley, it is even better when those places receive the energy and recognition they deserve. Further, when you enter those hidden gem theatres and witness an immaculate production, it makes you want to do all you can to share it with as many people as possible. 5 Guys Named Moe is that immaculate production and Black Theatre Troupe is that hidden gem nestled in the heart of Downtown Phoenix.

5 Guys Named Moe is a story following the main character Nomax as figments of his imagination come to life out of his radio in the form of 5 singers, Eat Moe, Big Moe, No Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, and Little Moe. Far beyond the doings of a Greek chorus, these 5 team up to help Nomax understand his shortfalls with the woman who left him and ultimately how to be a better person not only to her but to himself as well. The performance is jam-packed with amazing vocals, dance, and overall hilarity; however, it is the profoundness in its message that makes this more than some fluff jukebox piece with music by Louis Jordan, unironically coined as "The King of the Jukebox."

The simple yet elegant set designed by Alfredo Escarcega is what initially catches the eye. Clad with a dressed proscenium, and bandstand, as well as props like an antique radio, are all that is needed. The band consisting of Pianist Brenda Hankins, Bassist Ray Carter, Percussionist Earl Halliburton, Tim Fleegle on Trombone, Joey Leyva on Trumpet, and Michael Wojciechowicz on Reeds make for a magnificent sound backing up these 6 great vocalists.

The cast was out of this world, with not one character overshadowing the other, yet each standing out and catching the eye as they take their place on stage. Nomax, played by Cedrick Jenkins, has a spectacular voice and presence. Frederick Alphonso as Eat Moe is electric as always. A regular on the Black Theatre Troupe Stage, his voice truly pulls at your emotions with "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying." Another Black Theatre Troupe Vet, Walter Belcher, never ceases to wow the audience with his charisma. This is especially true with his ability to pull the energy out of an initially fairly quiet crowd with his opening song, "Beware, Brother, Beware" as well as a heart-wrenching performance of "What's The Use Of Getting Sober." Tyree Ballard as No Moe has an amazing command of the stage, and his "Reet, Petite and Gone" definitely got the crowd going. Phillip Glover as Four-Eyed Moe has an astonishing voice, which was well showcased on "Azure Te" and hilariously contrasted with "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens." And lastly, Dyonn James as Little Moe is magnetic and truly fun to watch, as was showcased with "Saturday Night Fish Fry." As well, their voices blend magnificently in every instance that they were together. Even with frequent sound issues during the performance, the ensemble truly found it in their voices to pull together and blend.

In their interview on NBC 12 News's Arizona Midday with Vanessa Gonzalez, Frederick Alphonso and Walter Belcher mention how Black Theatre Troupe is a theatre company able to provide "...all types of shows" with the ability to cater to "...all audiences..." As well, they go into their upcoming productions that "...have a little bit of something for everybody, Highlighting the African American experience... through everybody's lens." Yet and still, with the quality this theatre has always been able to provide, I am still astonished by individuals that have no idea the theatre exists. Although, with a charismatic Executive Director like David J. Hemphill speaking to the audience before each show, it is no wonder how they are able to have such a strong hold with a majorly word-of-mouth-built audience. Yet and still, it is in my honest opinion that Black Theatre Troupe still does not get the recognition it deserves as a true staple and hidden gem in Phoenix.

Although this magnificent production of 5 Guys Named Moe has closed, be sure not to miss any of their up coming shows, which can be found at®id=64&

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