Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Smokey Joe's Cafe"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Smokey Joe's Cafe"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony's current show is "Smokey Joe's Cafe" the longest running Broadway musical revue. Created by the legendary song-writing team, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the show contains 40 of their greatest hit's from the 50's and 60's including "Jailhouse Rock", "Stand by Me", "Poison Ivy", "Yakety Yak" and "Hound Dog". The show celebrates the world of hot summer nights, cool midnight struts, blue-light diners and hot rock and roll. It brings the music of the 50's and 60's vibrantly to life and illuminates a golden age of American culture. Director/choreographer, Dori Bryan delivers a high energy show from start to finish with her 10 multitalented performers while music director, Rob Goldman delivers the goods with his direction of their fabulous vocal talent and harmonization in all these numbers. Add Dori's fabulous dances to the mix and you have a magnificent production that makes the audience rise to its feet in unison at the close of the show. Bravo.

Dori's dances cover the gamut of all the 50's and 60's dances. One of the cleverest dances has three men's suits dancing during the "Shoppin' for Clothes" number. Other outstanding numbers include "Saved", "Little Egypt", "I'm a Woman" and "Stand By Me". Rob and his onstage band make all the numbers soar and Rob gets to show off his singing voice in "Stay a While". The multitude of colorful costumes are by Daniel Kozar who also designed the set. Technical director is Mike Teixeira with sound by Ed DiMarzio and props by Gail Gilman. Each of the 10 multitalented performers gets a chance to shine in their own numbers so I will try to hit on some of the 40 numbers in my review. Rhode Island College student, Jason Cabral does a great job imitating Elvis in "Jailhouse Rock" not only vocally but dances up a storm by swiveling his hips as well as dancing wonderfully throughout the show. He also sings the lead in the funny "Teach Me How to Shimmy" number where the slinky vamp, Steffy Galvin shimmies sexily across the stage. Steffy gets to strut her stuff in many of the numbers and sings the lead in "Falling" and belts out "Trouble" with Jhenna Louis and all the girls in the fabulous "I'm a Woman". Jhenna solos on "Don Juan" and "Some Cats Know" while wearing a red feather boa. Chrissy McCartney, a very talented vocalist shows off her pipes in "Pearl's a Singer" stopping the show with her strong belting voice. She also sings "Neighborhood" and the duet "Love Me/Don't" with Bill Cunningham. Bill's unbelievable singing voice is heard in "Young Blood" and other numbers but it is his funny dancing scene with the 3 suits that win him many laughs. Tracy Silva, the winner of the 2004 Boston POPS Popsearch, shows off her award winning voice at the close of Act 1 with the gospel number "Saved", which wins her thunderous applause and in the second Act she brings down the house again with her bluesy, "Fools Fall in Love" rendition. (This is the song that she won the POPS contest with.) Gary Lyon who is appearing in his first show performs in many group numbers buts gets to show off his voice in "DW Washburn" and in a high scat tenor number called "I (Who Have Nothing)". Rhode Island College student Albert Jennings displays his excellent dance moves throughout the show as well as his strong baritone voice in "Poison Ivy", "Dance with Me", "Loving You" and "Spanish Harlem". The next two performers stepped into the show a week or two before hand, deserving special recognition for learning all these songs and dances very quickly. Michael Warner shows off his topnotch tenor voice in "There Goes My Baby", "Love Potion # 9" and starts off "Stand By Me" very powerfully. He also excels at the dance numbers, too. Nathan Lamont shows off his great voice, too and shows off his comic side clad in a funny wig during the suit dance and wears a funny beanie during "Charlie Brown" audience participation number. He also sings the lead in the "Little Egypt" number with the men while they pretend to watch a stripper dance for them. Kudos to everyone who make this show one to be extremely proud of. So for a trip back to the carefree days of rock and roll, be sure to catch "Smokey Joe's Cafe" in Foxboro. Tell them Tony sent you and also tell them this is Tony's 500th theater review, too.

"Smokey Joe's Cafe" (28 September - 1 October)
BAY COLONY PRODUCTIONS
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 543-ARTS

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