Credited with virtually inventing rock & roll, the tunes of Leiber and Stoller provide the basis for an electrifying entertainment that illuminates a golden age of American culture in Tacoma Little Theatre’s production of “Smokey Joe’s Café,” Broadway’s longest running musical revue, directed by Micheal O’Hara, musically directed by Terry O’Hara, and choreographed by Eric Clausell.
In an idealized 50’s setting, the classic themes of love won, lost and imagined blend with slice-of-life emotions. With nearly 40 of the greatest songs ever recorded, “Smokey Joe’s Café” isn’t just great pop music – it’s compelling musical theatre.
This production features nine of the most talented singers and dancers in the Puget Sound: Melanie Gladstone, Ashanti Proctor, Jermaine Lindsay, Ashley Jackson, Nancy Hebert, Eric Clausell, Bruce Haasl, Locuas Curry and Kawika Huston. Each of the talented performers in this production exemplifies great entertainment in the theater giving riveting vocal and dance performances. The songs are reminiscent of a past time in American history, transporting the audience to a different era where life was simpler. Huston, Lindsay, Curry, and Clausell gave exhilarating, comical performances of “Poison Ivy” originally by The Coasters. The quartet brought the 1950s classic song to life with fun choreography including innovative costuming that was a real crowd pleaser.
All the guys – Clausell, Curry, Haasl, Huston and Lindsay –wowed the crowd in Act 1 with performances like “On Broadway” featuring the actors adorned in silver suits dancing down the aisles with impressive choreography that had a groove of the past with a modern twist. The entire ensemble of guys and girls performed numbers like D.W. Washburn blowing the crowd away with the perfect combination of theatrics to tell a story and soulful gospel singing and dancing.
Along with very strong group and ensemble performances, individually each performer shined bright in solo performances like Hebert’s rendition of the 1970s Elkie Brooks hit “Pearl’s a Singer.” Hebert commanded the audience from the first note to the last with a serious stage presence in a fiery, red dress and a voice that filled the whole theater with her wide range. From sultry duets like Gladstone and Jackson’s performance of “Trouble” integrating shadow dancing with soulful tunes to foot stomping whole ensemble renditions of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” “Smokey Joe’s Café” entertained the audience from the first number to the last bringing a standing ovation after the final song. This is a musical performance in the City of Destiny to not be missed!
“Smokey Joe’s Café” will runs until Sunday, June 12. Friday and Saturday showings are at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. This show is recommended for all ages. Tickets are $26 (adults), $24 (seniors 60+/students/military), and $22 (children 12 and under). Tickets may be purchased online at www.tacomalittletheatre.com, or by calling the Box Office at (253) 272-2281. Group rates are available for 10 or more, and special FLEX passes for six are $120. There will be a special “Pay What You Can” performance on Thursday, June 2,. Tickets for that performance will be available beginning Wednesday, May 25 in person or over the phone.