Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Smokey Joe's Cafe"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |



"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2002 by Tony Annicone

"Smokey Joe's Cafe"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The final show at Theatre-by-the-Sea this season is "Smokey Joe's Cafe". It is a very high energy musical revue of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's music. 42 of their hit songs are sung and danced to by 9 talented performers with expert direction and choreography by Gary John LaRosa and fantastic music direction by Bill Stanley. What a dynamite way to close the summer season in Matunuck. Gary keeps things moving from number to number making it flow while Bill plays the keyboards and leads the onstage orchestra with nonstop music from start to finish. (Bill also does a wonderful job singing "Stay A While".) The many backdrops and scrims are designed by Jeff Modereger with the lighting perfection by Peter West. The many colorful costumes are by Sabrina Notafrancisco and the body mikes and overall sound is handled masterfully by Walter Trarbach. Gary's choreography is another seamless part of this show making the audience want to join the performers in their dances while Bill makes the choral numbers soar. Since there are no specific roles in a musical revue, I'll try to present some of the solo highlights of this musical evening. Ron Butler who is a basso profundo like Bowser from Sha Na Na, does an excellent job singing the lead in "Little Egypt", a very comic song about his sexy girlfriend who is now his wife. Elena Ferrante, reminds one of Bette Midler, has a huge voice and does a great job with "Pearl's A Singer". Kristen Lewis Gorman plays the slinky, sexy vamp in the "Teach Me How To Shimmy" number and solos on "Falling" showing off her vocal talents. David Jackson sings the lead on many songs in the show with "Loving You" and "Spanish Harlem" as his standout numbers. (He also does a wonderful dance with Ursula in in the latter one.) The biggest scene stealer in the show is Kathleen Murphy Jackson who has a voice like Nell Carter. Kathleen closes the first act with the gospel number, "Saved" and in the second act brings down the house again with the bluesy, "Fools Fall In Love". She builds the song from a quiet start to shaking the rafters by song's end. Wow. Allie Laurie does a great job with his songs especially "D.W. Washburn" and "I (Who Have Nothing)". The latter song is a very powerful and moving one. Ursula Lawson sings her vampy song "Don Juan" while wearing a boa and carrying a chair onstage with her and her other number is "Some Cats Know". She does a beautiful job on them while exuding a great deal of sex appeal to the audience. Alec Timerman does a great job imitating Elvis in "Jailhouse Rock"not only vocally but swiveling his hips, too. He also sings the lead in the funny shimmie number. Last but not least is understudy Kwame Michael Remy who stepped into the role and delivered an extremely polished performance. His numbers include "Young Blood", "Love Potion # 9" and the extremely funny rendition of "There Goes My Baby". Kwame crys and jumps around the stage while singing with the other men. Great job doing the role. So for a supurb evening of familiar standards done fantastically, be sure to see "Smokey Joe's Cafe", you won't be disappointed. Next season is their 70th season and it looks wonderful. The four shows are "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change", "Chicago", "The Secret Garden" and "Always-Patsy Cline".

SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE (till 8 September )
THEATRE BY THE SEA
364 Card's Pond Road, MATUNUCK, RHODE ISLAND
1 (401) 782-8587

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |