By Bob Evans
For the season finale of the Black Reps initial season, Artistic Director Damron Russel Armstrong selected to mount the Broadway version of “Five Guys Named Moe,” a fast-paced musical full of music and dance that focuses on the Black music of the 20th Century.
The story, weak at best, and almost non-existent, focuses on Nomax who has just broken up with his girlfriend and listens to the radio as he drowns his sorrows and wallows in self pity until five men spring fourth from his head or the radio and set him on a course to reflect on bad ways and find his own cure for his dilemma.
The cast for the fun-filled musical cabaret are, as listed in a press release: “Big Moe – Douglass Walker, Four-eyed Moe-Nathaniel Rasson, Eat Moe – Rodney Thompson, No Moe – Christopher Barksdale and Little Moe – Francisco “Pancho” Villeagas who seem to emerge from his radio to take him on a comedic musical journey of self-awareness.”
From the moment the cast comes onstage, they remain in perpetual motion. They are movin’ and groovin’ nonstop in this rapid fire cabaret show they perform. And, it’s not just the cast, they like a little audience participation as well, so shake out the arms and loosen up those vocal cords for one song in the second act. It’s fun, enjoyable, and sure to get the audience going even more.
Armstrong plays the down on his luck NoMax and lets loose with a couple of songs that showcase his strong baritone voice. But, most of the singing and dancing belongs to the five actors who display their versatility on stage. While “Five Guys Named Moe” is an ensemble piece, each actor bring his own special magic to the production. Four-eyed Moe, Nathaniel Rasson shows off more of this ballet style in his dancing. No Moe, Christopher Barksdale shows off a little of everything in his movements and lets go with a tap number that gets the crowd going. Francisco Villeagas shows he’s a triple threat with singing, acting, and dancing. He can sell any song with his delivery, expressions, and personality. Big Moe, Douglass Walker dances as well, but it’s his husky voice that delivers the audience participation R&B Classic, “Caladenia” to a surprised crowd. And, Eat Mo, Rodney Thompson does his best when crooning solo and getting the show slowed down just a bit from it’s frenzied pace.
Without a doubt, “Five Guys Named Moe” gets the crowd going. It’s fun. It’s fast. It’s R&B music at its best. The show runs for a limited time and word of mouth needs to spread, quickly to give these performers audiences that appreciate their work and dedication.
The orchestra for “Five Guys Named Moe” worked hard to learn and perform this up tempo show. The band members need to be remembered for their hard work and dedication. They are: Pamela Basin-Watson/Piano/Musical Director, Julian Goff/drums, Andrew Stinson/Bass, Gerald Turner/Reeds, Karita Carter/Trombone, Josh Williams/ trumpet.
The Black Rep of Kansas City, “…gives new-comers the opportunities not before afforded to them in the past, Damron Armstrong said. “(The Black Rep is) building a bridge to work on the stage that did not previously exist, by producing shows that have never been produced locally. Shining a spotlight on contributions made by African-Americans this time in the world of music.\
“Five Guys Named Moe” has a limited run from March 30 to April 9 with Thursday-Sunday performances. Tickets are now on sale, online at the website. Special discounts are available for seniors (65+), students. Group discounts available 10+ for “Five Guys Named Moe” which is performed at the newly renovated Arts Aslyum 1000 E 9th St., Kansas City, Missouri, 64106.
Tags: Black Rep of Kansas City, “Five Guys Named Moe”, Arts Asylum, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Arts & Entertainment, Performing Arts