’Tis the season, apparently, for the exuberant 1990 musical revue Five Guys Named Moe. Miami’s M Ensemble did the show at Thanksgiving, and now Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs has opened its own holiday production, slated to run through mid-January.
Comparisons may be odious, but they’re hard to avoid when a show gets two different productions in the same region in under a month.
In addition to the music by 1940s bandleader-songwriter Louis Jordan and others, plus the script by creator Clarke Peters, the new Five Guys has one other thing in common with M Ensemble’s version: Actor-singer-dancer Don Seward is again playing Eat Moe, a guy whose haunting Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying is again a highlight of the show.
Otherwise, Stage Door is offering a revue with a different cast, different musicians and a different vibe.
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Staged in a much more intimate space, the new Five Guys Named Moe treats the lovelorn Nomax (Brandon Hanks) as a financially strapped contemporary guy with booze and lady issues (the former has helped create the latter). He has slept through his girlfriend’s birthday (ouch!). But just when it seems that she’ll for sure kick him to the curb, five fantasy romantic advisors are summoned via his bedside radio to give him a musical crash course in how not to mess up a good thing. Hanks has a rich, alluring voice, and along the way delivers appealing renditions of I Know What I’ve Got and If I Had Any Sense I’d Go Back Home.
Director and choreographer Christopher George Patterson plays No Moe, a smiling spark plug of a guy whose fast-and-furious tap dancing is one of the show’s artistic engines. He takes the lead on Messy Bessy and Reet, Petite and Gone, and like the others is dressed by costume designer Peter Lovello in a signature color — in his case, a vibrant red to match his onstage personality.
Phillip Bolton’s dressed-in-purple Big Moe sings the cautionary Beware, Brother, Beware, a melancholy What’s the Use of Getting Sober and the rousing audience participation number Caldonia. Yellow-clad Michah Jeremiah Mims, whose Four-Eyed Moe has a tendency to lose his glasses, sings a moody Azure Te and Look Out, Sister.
As Little Moe, a dynamo in blue, Daryl Stewart declares his preference for larger ladies when he sings I Like ’em Fat Like That, then keeps the party going with Saturday Night Fish Fry and Choo Choo Ch’boogie. Seward, dressed in green, takes the lead on Life Is So Peculiar, Knock Me a Kiss and Let the Good Times Roll.
Though soloists (even the impressive Seward) sometimes veer a bit off key, the cast achieves a gorgeous vocal blend on the Is You Is medley near the end of the show. Musical director-pianist Michael Larsen, bass player Martha Spangler and drummer Jeff Renza sit on a bandstand hovering above the action, and set designer Michael McClain works his own little miracle in creating a cramped, rundown urban studio apartment for Nomax that still leaves just enough room for the Moes to dance up a storm.
Stage Door and M Ensemble don’t appear to have much of a crossover audience, if any, so Five Guys (if not the Jordan music) will probably be new to the vast majority of theatergoers who make the trek to Coral Springs. The relatively modest production delivers its quota of novelty numbers and precursor-to-rock songs, creative close-quarters choreography and the sweat that lets you know just how hard the engaging cast is working to entertain you.
If you go
What: ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ by Clarke Peters.
Where: Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs.
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday (additional shows 4 and 9 p.m. Dec. 31), through Jan. 18.
Cost: $38-$44 (students $16).
Information: 954-344-7765 or www.stagedoortheatre.com.