REVIEW: Five Guys Named Moe "well worth seeing"

Posted on 11 October 2017

I will confess: the only thing I knew about Five Guys Named Moe before I went and saw this recent revival for myself was that the song “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” is in it, which is a song I’d heard a choir from my school sing years ago, and that was about it. I didn’t appreciate until seeing the show that this is a jukebox musical of a whole host of Louis Jordan songs, performed in a way that uses almost no dialogue. As a result, the plot of the show was pretty thin, but while shows like this are not my cup of tea, it’s undeniable that this is fantastic fun and brilliantly put together.

While I argue that the plot for this show is thin, there is still one at play here. The show tells the story of a man named Nomax, a guy who is down on his luck having been recently dumped by his girlfriend because he’s turned into a total slob. In what feels like a drunken daze, Nomax is visited by five different men in suits, all named Moe, similar to the way Scrooge is visited by the Christmas ghosts in A Christmas Carol. The rest of the show is a huge hit list of songs performed by the cast in a way to convince Nomax to better himself as a person. The plot is nothing heavy and doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s the songs instead that drive this show forwards. 

It’s rare to see a jukebox musical have such a successful succession of hit songs, but this show really has it. Louis Jordan’s fantastic music – directed in the show by MD Jason Thompson - paired with Andrew Wright’s stunning choreography turns this show into a musical masterpiece that is the perfect kind of “party night” at the theatre; think the kind of fun women on hen-dos have at Mamma Mia! - it’s that level of fun. 

Put this show into its new purpose-built theatre in Marble Arch and you’re totally immersed in the world of the characters as well. As soon as you enter the theatre, you are propelled into the land of a vintage jazz bar; a place of Pinterest dreams. You can even complete the experience – which is underscored by the sound of a live band playing – by grabbing yourself a cocktail from the show’s drinks menu at the bar. This show errs on the side of an immersive experience, which makes it even better. The auditorium itself is also styled to look like a cross between a jazz club and a circus tent which is completely indicative of how fun the show is. The actors are constantly throwing themselves around the space, be it on the stage or on the revolve or even through the audience, and it is so much fun to see.

The team at work here need as much credit for this show’s success as the venue and producer Cameron Mackintosh do. The tight-knit ensemble cast of six are fantastic in all their roles with none of them standing out because they’re all so stand-out in their own right; there’s not a single weak link in this mix. The creative team behind this show are just as fantastic too, with special credit going to Andrew Wright’s aforementioned “stunning” choreography, as well as Philip Gladwell’s lighting design, which I’ll be surprised if he isn’t Olivier-nominated for.

While this show may not be entirely my cup of tea, I can most definitely appreciate the fantastic talent and work that goes into this show, while also appreciating how much fun it really is. It most certainly isn’t the most intense night at the theatre you’ll ever experience, but for that very reason, it’s special. London finally has a new show that is nothing but packed full of talent and a lot of fun to watch and for that reason, I think it’s well worth seeing.

Five Guys Named Moe tickets are booking through February 17, 2018.