Another show where I purposefully didn’t do too much research about as I often like the element of surprise – and another show where it paid off!
What a joy this show is – an explosion of song and dance in an immersive setting. Because this isn’t just walking into a room, seeing a show, then leaving. Let’s start from the beginning of the entire experience.
Showing at the purpose-built Marble Arch Theatre, the first thing you notice from the approach to the theatre is that you are about to step right into the world of the characters in New Orleans. The exterior of the theatre, the bar serving Louisiana’s finest cocktails, the jukebox, the try-on costumes – the bandstand. The entire room decked out to look the part.
Shortly before the show, members of the band take to the bandstand to give you a taster of the live entertainment to follow. Always nice for a show to have a pre-show – if there is any show you don’t just show up to 5 mins before curtain, it’s this one!
Entering the main venue – a circular theatre with a band of seating in a circle, a walkway running around the venue connecting to the stage, and a couple more rows of circular seating inside the circle and then cabaret seating in the middle. Taking time to wander around the theatre, and taking into account the staging, I don’t imagine there is a bad seat in the house. The cast are continuously walking around the audience on that circular walkway, so you can be sat in the back row but still only 5ft away from live action due to the immersive feel of the show.
The energy of this show is contagious and the audience interactions keep the party feel going. If you’re here for a deep review of plot and character development, this might not be the show for you – the plot is paper thin and the show is all about showing the impressing vocal, dancing and comedy skills of this very talented cast.
The show centres around Nomax, a lost soul who we encounter drunk in his flat following a confrontation with his girlfriend. As he passes out to the radio, the Five Moes appear and impart all their worldly knowledge in a bit to help him clean up his act and get his lady back. All through song and dance, of course.
The live band onstage are incredible and fully deserving of their own ovations at the end of each half – the first slightly obscured by the entire audience forming a conga line out of the theatre towards the bar. But they get an extended run out at each end of the second half to allow you to show appreciation. Running through a variety of songs by Louis Jordan, blending genres from jazz to blues/rock, having the band there onstage rather than down in an orchestra pit really adds to the atmosphere.
It’s impossible to pick out anyone in particular for praise because all six performers had brilliant comic timing, superb vocals and moved through the dances with ease. It’s no surprise several nominations for individuals have poured in, resulting in the cast often up against each other in various categories.
The show is only running until the end of the month, and I’m curious to see what will pop up at the theatre afterwards, or whether the theatre will be taken down again. It’s such a great venue the team have built here – with the themed bar area, it would be great for other pop-up venues to create more of a package around the show. Having the bar area open for an hour after the show finished was unusual but helped make the night.
Tickets for Five Guys Named Moe are available here until 24th March. Don’t miss your chance to see this.