*The whole house rocked from start to finish as the cast of Smokey Joe’s Café’ took the audience on a musical ride through the lyrical and rhythmic pages of the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song book.
Enduring classics like Poison Ivy, On Broadway, Stand By Me, Hound Dog, Jail House Rock and Dance With Me turned electric as each artfully choreographed piece brought forth blissful sways, heated gyrations, flirtatious bumps and titillating sashays that erupted into thunderous applause from the audience, as echoes of the early days of rock & roll were now reborn from sweltering sock hops, nostalgic nickelodeons and relic record players.
Director and choreographer Jeffrey Polk masterfully designed each musical number into a fluent story that evoked every possible nuance, much to the delight of the crowd.
With so many memorable songs, and such a prolific song book, it is difficult to grade one as better than the other, they were all sensational! However when Kyra Little Da Costa purred her way through the song “Don Juan” she had the audience panting for her every whimper and sultry note. Then as Thomas Hobson crooned of the rose in Spanish Harlem (by Spector & Leiber), the diva Da Costa stunned the audience once more by elegantly gliding onto the stage and joining the singer en pointe in a surprise pas de deux. Loving the music was a given, being thrilled by the direction and choreography was doubly euphoric.
Adrianna Rose Lyons cooked when she sang, and shook when she did the Shimmy! Stu James was a debonair balladeer. As Carly Thomas Smith belted, she proved that she had a heap of rock & roll, and a little taste of soul. The big man, Michael A. Shepperd moved, grooved and charmed his way through every capable note and cadence, while Monique L. Midgette and Robert Neary anchored this gifted ensemble with vocal finesse and choreographic ease. And if any had ever seen Smokey Joe’s before, it would be hard to fathom anyone even coming close to Victor Trent Cook’s bone chilling rendition of “I Who Have Nothing” but alas, when LaVance Cooley belted out the song made famous by Ben E. King, the audience lost all demeanor and cheered stadium style into total surrender from a vivid aria of Americana thanks to the music of Leiber and Stoller. Ironically it was the music of the 1950’s and 1960’s that made the country forget it’s troubles, if only for a moment to be enraptured by the music. Now in 2013, here it’s happening all over again in Smokey Joe’s Café.
Smokey Joes’ Cafe’ made its’ Broadway debut in 1995 and opened in London in 1996. The show was conceived by Stephen Helper, Jack Viertel and Otis Salid. It made its first Los Angeles appearance in 1994. Opening night at the Pasadena Playhouse was September 22, 2013, and featured a surprise guest appearance on stage by Mike Stoller who thanked his latest cast and crew, and paid homage to his late songwriting partner Jerry Stoller who passed away in 2011.
The Tony Award winning Smokey Joe’s Café’ runs through October 13th at the Pasadena Playhouse, where Sheldon Epps is Artistic Director, and Elizabeth Doran is Executive Director. Click here for tickets and other information. EURweb.com thanks it’s partnership with It Is Done PR for its media partnership with these and other great productions.
Additional writers on I Who Have Nothing include Carlo Donido & Mogul. Additional lyrics on Stand by Me are by Ben. E. King.