The Other Guy in Five Guys; Laura Bush Opens 2012 Town Hall

By Megan McDonald March 22, 2011

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's Mikeyy Mendez.

In the Westcoast  Black Theatre Troupe  musical Five Guys Named Moe, the young actor playing the one guy not named Moe is getting lots of attention.

Nineteen-year-old Mikeyy Mendez  gives a charismatic performance as the lovesick Nomax, who, after a night of drinking, gets romantic advice from five smooth operators who pop out of his radio.

A Bradenton resident and a student at the State College of Florida, Mendez smoothly blends in with a standout cast of veteran performers:  Porter L. Anderson, Earley Dean, Donald Frison, Leon S. Pitts and D. William Hughes.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Mendez’s first love is singing (he’s working on an R&B recording now). But he got the acting bug while enrolled in the Manatee School for the Arts, and landed roles in Manatee Players productions of Ragtime, A Chorus Line and Smokey Joe’s Café.

Earlier this season, he appeared in a Marvin Gaye revue at the WBTT. But the role in Five Guys Named Moe is a huge step forward. He credits his cast members and director Harry Bryce with helping him blossom as a performer.

“They have taught me so much,” Mendez says.  “I’ve learned how to work the stage, to create a stage presence.  And I’ve learned to recite the words of a song so I can better understand it.  In rehearsal, Harry would say, ‘If you don’t understand the words, the audience isn’t going to have a clue.’

“And, of course, they taught me how to dance,” he added, laughing. “I really wasn’t much of a dancer before this.”

Mendez chuckled again when asked if any of the advice his character gets about love and relationships has paid off for him in real life. “Well, I don’t know if most 19-year-olds have a big romantic life,” he said. “But I have learned that you shouldn’t drink, so five guys won’t come out of your radio.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering about that extra “Y” in his first name, Mendez said it results from a MySpace account he created a few years ago. “Mikey Mendez was already taken, so I added another Y and decided to keep it,” he explained.

In conversation, Mendez seems remarkably mature and clear-eyed about his goals. He hopes to one day become a major recording artist with star power.  But not for the reasons you might think.

“I’d like to gain enough substance so that I could establish some charities to help people,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to become a philanthropist.  When you see all that’s going on in the world, you can feel hopeless.  But I’d like to one day be in a position to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Town Hall Lineup Diverse, Controversial

Many famous women have spoken at the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall Lecture series, but no former first lady has made the list—until now. Laura Bush will kick off the 2012 Town Hall program with morning and evening appearances on Jan. 11 at the Van Wezel  Performing Arts Hall.

Harvard economist Roland Fryer, called a “rising star” by Fortune magazine and featured in Esquire’s “Genius Issue,”  will speak on Feb. 1.  The Feb. 13 speaker, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commanded all international forces in Afghanistan until being relieved of his duty by President Obama in 2010. McChrystal was fired after making intemperate remarks about Obama and his administration to a Rolling Stone reporter.

University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, author of the monster 2005 best-seller FREAKONOMICS,  will address the audience on March 5.

 The season concludes on a provocative note on March 21, with an appearance by controversial Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. While O’Reilly’s name was greeted by applause when the lineup was announced at the Malcolm Gladwell-Adam Gopnik lecture on Monday night, many audience members groaned, and the woman next to me recoiled in absolute horror.

Platinum subscribers to the series will also be able to attend a Jan. 25 dinner with Tina Brown, the former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, and now the editor-in-chief of the newly merged The Daily Beast/Newsweek.  For subscription information, go to, or call 925-1343.

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