Where There's Smoke... SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE at Town Hall Arts Center
Smokey Joe’s Cafe words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. is a song and dance revue showcasing 39 pop standards, rock and roll, rhythm and blues songs including Love Potion #9, On Broadway, I’m a Woman, Yakety Yak, and more.
directed and choreographed by Matthew D. Peters
I would describe this production as a journey of friendship through music. That's how I approached this production as well. So often this show is done as basically a park and bark. Bringing in incredible singers who stand there and sing these fantastic songs. For me I really wanted to bring some more heart to the list of songs. As I went through the script I started to see this vision of a group of friends who all grew up on the same street in New York. For me the line about pictures in my scrapbook really hit me. I decide that I would start the show with the cast coming back to "the neighborhood" seeing each other again for the first time in years, and that I would end the show right back where we started with a new picture to add to the scrapbook! That's why we started and ended in the same costumes in the spot lights that we started in. From there it was easy for me to jump back in time with the characters and start there lives as kids with young blood and Fallin and Ruby Baby.
I found that the songs that were assigned to each character really leant themselves to this story I was trying to convey. It also allowed to actors to have some great motivation behind what they were singing about. The movement was inspired by the story as well starting off in young blood as goofy middle school boys trying to impress a girl to high school boys who think they can handle the neighborhood cougar in poison ivy. Then there was just a natural fosse feel for on Broadway to me so I went down that path. Finally the music had a swing feel which is where a lot of the partnering came into play. I decided to add the four dancer which allowed me to add life to some of the solo numbers.
The cast is filled with strong singers
- Jacob Villarreal as Ken. Jacob was most recently seen at Town Hall in the 2016 production of Violet, and the 2015 productions of Young Frankenstein and Anything Goes. "Spanish Harlem" is a treat.
- Olivia James makes her Town Hall debut as Brenda. She was most recently seen locally in a new musical; Uncle Jed's Barbershop produced by Cleo Parker Robinson and, before that, in Memphis the Musical at the Arvada Center.
- Matt LaFontaine as Victor - of course he dances and brings the funny, but you'll never hear "I Who Have Nothing" the same way again.
- Alejandro Roldan as Adrian - His voice really suits the period music.
- Evan Sauvage as Frederick - Returns to the Town Hall stage for the first time in 10 years.
- Anna High as BJ - Her powerhouse belt has made her an audience favorite and she puts it to good use once agin in this production.
- Ethan Knowles as Michael - This is his fifth show with Town Hall.
- Colby Dunn as Pattie - Her rendition of "Pearl's A Singer" reminded me how much I love that song
- Jenna Moll Reyes as DeLee -Make her Town Hall debut after catching fire with Ignite Theatre in RENT, IN THE HEIGHTS at Vintage, and SHE KILLS MONSTERS at Aurora Fox, among others.
The cast is completed with dancers Rachelle King - Chelley Canales - Eric Pung - Will Treat
Basically, we learn what is on the page and then I prefer the singers to "make it their own". I am very fortunate that their sound and the way everyone blends together just naturally happened on it's own. Especially since there are 40 songs in the show! -