Tuesday, February 7, 2017

ERT Set To Present Musical 'Five Guys Named Moe'

Obba Babatundé 

LOS ANGELES, CA (February 6, 2017) Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT - Producing Artistic Director Wren T. Brown) announced today that ERT will present FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE starring Emmy Award-winner Obba Babatundé (Dreamgirls/Tony nomination). Written by Clarke Peters, this exuberant, international hit musical pays tribute to the music of rhythm and blues pioneer Louis Jordan. ERT’s production, directed and choreographed by Keith Young (Sammy), with musical direction by Abdul Hamid Royal (FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE/original Broadway production) will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the musical’s Broadway production. Performances will run May 18 – June 11, 2017 with an official press opening on Saturday, May 20 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90016. 

“Ebony Repertory Theatre is very excited to present FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE in the 25th Anniversary year of its Broadway debut,” said Wren T. Brown, ERT Producing Artistic Director. “I will never forget the sheer excitement I felt while sitting in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway in 1992 watching six wonderfully talented men and a most swinging band celebrate the music and persona of the seminal and pioneering saxophonist, singer and bandleader Louis Jordan. In addition, we are thrilled to have Keith Young make his Los Angeles directorial debut with this production. We are also honored to have the original Musical Director of the Broadway production, Abdul Hamid Royal, leading the band. And of course, we are overjoyed to have the gifted triple-threat Obba Babatundé as Nomax.

“When Wren Brown reached out to me about FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, I knew my fortunes had taken a turn for the better. It’s twenty-five years for me, and nearly 10 years for Wren at the Ebony Repertory Theatre. I'd hoped the show would become a landmark in our community's contribution to the great American musical lexicon,” said Clarke Peters, who wrote the book for the musical. “Mr. Jordan inspired so many artists across the board, both black and white. Without him, there would be no rock in the roll and less rhythm in our blues. It's one thing to read about his life, but it's another to feel him. He always said when he played music he wanted people to have a good time. FIVE GUYS' mission is to stay true to that desire. Thank you, Wren. Let the good times roll!”

“25 years ago I had the pleasure of being the Musical Director for the Broadway production of FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE. 25 years later, I’m thrilled to reprise that role as Musical Director with a new and exciting version of the show with Ebony Repertory Theatre. With Louis Jordan’s timeless music and an outstanding cast, I’m sure audiences will be rockin’ with us all night long,” said Abdul Hamid Royal.

Obba Babatundé is an accomplished, award-winning stage and film and actor and is a respected director and producer in each medium. This Emmy Award-winner for his role on Bold and the Beautiful, is also the recipient of a Tony Award nomination for his role as “C.C. White” in Dreamgirls, and both an Ovation Award nomination and NAACP Image Award as Best Actor for his role as “Sarge” in A Soldier’s Play. His many stage credits include “Billy Flynn” in Chicago on Broadway, and Jelly’s Last Jam in which he originated the role of “Jelly Roll Morton.” Babatundé received an Emmy Award nomination for his performance in the HBO Movie Miss Evers’ Boys and an NAACP Image Award nomination for his performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, also on HBO. His many film appearances include The Manchurian Candidate, The Notebook, Philadelphia, The Celestine Prophecy and John Q. He has appeared in numerous television shows such as Madame Secretary, Kingdom, Hand of God, Dear White People, Dawson’s Creek and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to name just a few. He co-produced and directed Oscar’s Black Odyssey as well as the multi-award winning short film Clarissa’s Gift and co-produced Dorothy Dandridge.

Casting for the five Moes – Big Moe, Little Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, No Moe and Eat Moe –will be announced at a later date. The full creative team will also be announced at that time.

FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE began its unlikely journey with a six-week run at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. With a growing following, and enthusiastic reviews, producers came to see it. Cameron Mackintosh was captivated and brought the musical to London’s West End Lyric Theatre in 1990 where it played until 1995 when it moved to the Albery Theatre. In 1992 FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE made its Broadway debut at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it played 445 performances and 19 previews. The show’s legacy was set. The show’s popularity grew as regional and touring productions wowed audiences across the U.S. and the world.  

Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. ERT is Los Angeles’ only African American professional theatre company. Under Wren T. Brown’s producorial leadership, ERT has produced Ovation Award and NAACP Theatre Award-winning productions of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In the Sun. Last season’s Gospel At Colonus, which starred Tony Award winner Roger Robinson, garnered fourteen Ovation Award nominations. Other ERT productions include: Jeff Stetson’s Fraternity and Phillip Hayes Dean’s Robeson, among others.

FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE runs May 19 – June 11, 2017, with the official press opening on Saturday, May 20 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Two preview performances are set for Thursday, May 18 at 8 p.m. and Friday, May 19 at 8 p.m. The regular performance schedule is Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

In celebration of Black History Month, Ebony Repertory Theatre is offering an Early Bird Special ticket of $35 for a limited number of performances. The Early Bird Special performances are: Sunday, May 21 at 3 p.m.; Friday, May 26 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 27 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 28 at 3 p.m. This Early Bird Special is available now through February 28, 2017. 

Single tickets are available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766.  

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CLARKE PETERS (Book) has a long-established and wide-ranging career in theatre, television, radio and film. And his directing debut of a children’s book: Bud, Not Buddy last week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. was a huge success. His many stage credits include: Shakespeare in the Park - King Lear; David Mamet’s Race, Chicago, and The Iceman Cometh in New York as well as, in London, as a Royal National player: Guys and Dolls, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Mourning Becomes Electra. The original Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Driving Miss Daisy, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Little Shop of Horrors, Blues In The Night and of course, the hit jazz musical FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, also written by Clarke. Other theatre includes Othello at the Sheffield Crucible, the home of his directing debut of Blues for Mr. Charlie, followed by King, The Musical in the West End. You’ll appreciate that the decades of stage, radio, television and film work are too numerous to list here. Yet…

Clarke’s film credits include Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, Notting Hill, Mona Lisa, Bad Education, Marley and Me, Freedomland, The Benefactor, Endgame: Mandelas – The Prison Years and Nativity. Clarke is also well-known for his very varied and popular television career which includes, amongst numerous successful performances, regular appearances on The Wire, Tremé, Jericho, The Divide, Chance and the Corner. He has also guest-starred in Jonathan Creek, Holby City, Underground, Show Me A Hero, Midsomer Murders, Death In Paradise, True Detective, Memphis Beat, London Spy, Damages, Life On Mars, Law and Order- Trial By Jury, and Person of Interest. And the yet-to-be aired Life On Earth and The Deuce.

At present developing a documentary on the history of tap for the BBC and tracing Doo-Wop.

LOUIS JORDAN (Music and Lyrics) was a pioneering musician, songwriter and bandleader who was popular in the late 1930’s through early 1950’s. He began his career in big-band swing jazz and became one of the leading practitioners and innovators of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. He had his own band for more than twenty years and worked with such stars as Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Jordan was an instrumentalist who played all forms of saxophone, and specialized in the alto sax. He also played the piano and clarinet. A prolific songwriter, he wrote or co-wrote many songs that influence popular music.

KEITH YOUNG (Director and Choreographer). Mr. Young’s award winning work as a choreographer has spanned theatre, film and television. His extensive choreography credits include Sammy at The Old Globe Theatre (Critics Choice Award for Best Choreography), The George C. Wolfe Broadway production of On The Town, and Ebony Repertory Theatre productions of The Gospel At Colonus, Robeson, and Crowns. His many film credits include Rent, It’s Complicated, The Holiday, What Women Want, The Smurfs, Gone With The Bullets (World Choreography Award for Best Choreography) and The Parent Trap. His television credits include The Academy Awards, The Grammy Awards, The Emmy Awards, The NAACP Image Awards, So You think You Can Dance, and Dancing With The Stars. Mr. Young has worked with numerous other artists including Madonna, Babyface, Bette Midler, Josh Groban, Gladys Knight, Earth Wind And Fire, and The Isley Brothers, to name a few.

ABDUL HAMID ROYAL (Musical Director) Mr. Hamid was recently awarded a theatre trifecta in the Ovation Award; The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and The NAACP Image Award as Best Music Direction for his work on The Gospel At Colonus. Abdul Hamid began piano at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music at 4, and by age 8 had written and publicly performed his first compositions. He received a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the prestigious Northwestern University and has worked as Musical Director/Conductor, with the Broadway and National/International tours of FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, Twist, Sophisticated Ladies, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Jelly’s Last Jam, The Wiz, Truly Blessed, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Betsy Brown, Concerts for the Earth, Colors of Christmas, Smokey Joe’s Café, and The Life to name a few.  

As a Composer/Arranger his credits include: FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE, Truly Blessed, Body and Soul, Twist, Cole Porter Festival, Colors of Christmas and several recordings and educational publications. Abdul Hamid has worked with many musical artists including: Natalie Cole, Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, Cy Coleman, Al Jarreau, The Pointer Sisters, Liza Minelli, Ashford & Simpson, Martha Wash, Jennifer Holliday, Jeffrey Osborne, Maurice Hines, Melba Moore, Patti Austin, Grover Washington Jr., Masashi Sada, Patti LaBelle, Christina Aguilera, Jason Mraz, Stevie Wonder, David Foster, Doc Powell, The LA Philharmonic, Ty Herndon, Freddie Waites, Brenda Russell, and Phil Collins. Abdul Hamid is extremely honored to be back at Ebony Repertory Theatre, Musical Directing FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE which he originated on Broadway. 

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