I’ve got a lot of history with Five Guys Named Moe. I only went to see the original 90s West End production by accident after Piaf starring Elaine Paige was cancelled and I found the Louis Jordan musical at the Lyric Theatre as a last-minute alternative.
And it ignited a love within a musical theatre-loving, trumpet playing teenager, which has endured. The cast recording formed one of the soundtracks of my youth, so when I heard the Clarke Peters’ musical was to be revived once again; I couldn’t wait to be transported back to the magnificent New Orleans nightclub.
This time a brand new pop-up theatre has been built to house the production, so as soon as you cross the threshold you feel as if you are in another age, with a band playing above the bar on a veranda and an utterly spellbinding atmosphere.
The auditorium itself is much more opulent than the pop-up theatres which were previously used up at Kings Cross too and if you’re very lucky you will be seated in the Bull Ring, with a conveyor belt revolve moving around you throughout the performance.
And what a performance it is, with the classic songs of Louis Jordan – who was known as the King of the Jukebox – expertly played by the onstage band and his clever and funny lyrics given the perfect voice by six wonderful actors at the top of their game.
Five Guys Named Moe follows the story of Nomax (Edward Baruwa), a chap who has broken up with his girlfriend, is down on his luck and has found solace at the bottom of a bottle. A group who emanates from his radio (Ian Carlyle, Idriss Kargbo, Dex Lee, Horace Oliver and Emile Ruddock) sets about changing his ways and saving him from destitution.
Classic like “Choo, Choo, Ch’boogie” and “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” are given modern vigor with Andrew Wright’s choreography and the cast performs its socks off, leaving you with a sense of elation.
With its stomping numbers and hilarious interplay, you won’t find a more joyful show in the West End.