SJCChicago presents the return of Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre’s production of SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ. In the 1950’s, the musical writing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller began their songwriting chapter in rock and roll history. Leiber was the lyricist. Stoller was the composer. Together, they used their passion for rhythm and blues to influence rock and roll roots. Their songs became hits for The Robins, The Drifters, The Coasters and Elvis Presley. In 1995, SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ was created as a musical revue showcasing the Leiber and Stoller experience. After the NYC premiere, it went on to become the longest running musical revue in Broadway history. Last fall, Theo Ubique enjoyed regular sell-out success mounting SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ. That triumphant run led to an encore run this spring. SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ is back and still smoking hot!
This show sizzles with Jackson 5 moves and girl group/boy band synergies. The original Theo Ubique cast returns: Justin Adair, Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, TJ Crawford, Robin K. Dasilva, Vasily Deris, Jaymes Osborne, Steven Perkins, Britt-Marie Sivertsen. Under the skillful direction of Brenda Didier, the show seamlessly twirls through the 40+ song list. The energetic cast change tempo, mood and costumes within mystical moments. The transitions are impressive as one song melds into the next. With Didier’s vintage choreography, the performers line it up, glide it out, and even shimmy it hard. It’s a flashback of groovy funk intermingled with flirty courtship dances. The cast interject the attitude and the songs start to create back stories of life loves and woes.
In one sequence, Deris lectures Dasilva with ‘Treat me Nice.’ Dasilva’s robust response is belting out an Aretha Franklin-worthy ‘Hound Dog.’ It’s these song combinations that engage with a relational illusion. The audience gets caught up in all this well-tuned drama. Musical Director, Jeremy Ramey, along with a dynamic 4 piece band, support the singers in delivering pitch-perfect harmonies. My favorite number is ‘I Am Woman.’ Each of the four ladies go full-on diva led by the fast-talking, moxie-driven Charles and the unstoppable, powerhouse Dasilva. Alfonso and Sivertsen round out the unforgettable W-O-M-A-N showstopper. Loved it! I’ll say it again. Loved it… all of it! ‘Fools fall in love’ and I fell hard. The singing. The dancing. The vibrant costumes of yesteryear designed by Bill Morey. Wow!
SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ is located at the corner of nostalgic and memorable. If you didn’t see it before, don’t miss it this time. If you already saw it, you already know that you should see it again. Get down to SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ for a musical serving ‘On Broadway.’
Jamming to my left, Shawn describes it with ‘what a show!’
Running Time: One hour and fifty minutes includes an intermission
At Royal George Cabaret Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted
Featuring words and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Directed and choreographed by Brenda Didier
Music direction by Jeremy Ramey
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm
Sundays at 2pm and 6pm
Select Wednesdays at 2pm
EXTENDED Thru June 30th
For more information, visit www.SmokeyJoesCafe.com
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Robert La Penna
Filed under: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Tags: "Smokey Joe's Cafe", Bill Morey, Brenda Didier, Britt-Marie Sivertsen, Jaymes Osborne, Jeremy Ramey, Jerry Leiber, Justin Adair, Kasey Alfonso, Katy Walsh, Mike Stoller, Robin K. Dasilva, Royal George Theatre, Steven Perkins, Sydney Charles, TJ Crawford, Vasily Deris