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Smokey Joe's Cafe
Smokey Joe’s Cafe is playing at Stage 42 located at 422 West 42nd Street. It runs one hour forty minutes with no intermission. It is an open ended run.
The musical premiered on March 2, 1995 at the Virginia Theatre, now called August Wilson Theatre. It closed on January 16, 2000 after 2,036 performances.
The show was nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and won a 1996 Grammy for Best Musical show album. During its run many popular singers sang in the show such as Gladys Knight (May 1999), Tony Orlando (June 1999) and Gloria Gaynor (September 1999).
Joshua Bergasse is the director and choreographer. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2015 for On the Town.
Beowulf Boritt is the scenic designer. He won a Tony Award in 2014 for Act One and was nominated for two Tony Awards for Therese Raquin (2016) and The Scottsboro Boys (2011).
There are thirty nine pop standards, including rock and roll and rhyme and blues performed. They were by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller.
We are in a café. The bar is in the center, the band is to the left. There is a balcony were the performers sing some songs from. All along the walls are radios from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.
There is no story told. You get the feeling each song is a short story. They are sung by Dwayne Cooper, Emma Degerstedt, John Edwards, Dionne d. Figgins, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, Kyle Taylor Parker, Jelani, Max Sanderman and Alysha Umphress. The cast interacts with each other. They add dance and other movements to each song. Props are used.
When they sing “Charlie Brown”, the cast comes down in the aisles and interacts with the audience.
They sang “Hound Dog” better than Elvis.
“I Who Have Nothing” sung by John Edwards will blow you away. Dionne D. Figgins dance number in “Spanish Harlem” is awesome. Jelani Remy “Jail House Rock” ROCKS! The whole cast does an outstanding job. The cast is remarkable. They deserve a standing ovation.
You don’t have to have been born in that generation to enjoy the music.
Beowulf Boritt set is awesome.
I never cheer on a cast but I did with this show. I think you will to.
This is a show worth seeing.
Review By Rozanna Radakovich
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for photos. Click on photos for this and other shows.