Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review of "Smokey Joe's Café - The Songs of Lieber and Stoller"


Smokey Joe's Café - The Songs of Lieber and Stoller, directed by Randy Johnson, is a rock, rhythm and blues revue at Arena Stage that has the distinction of being the longest-running revue in Broadway history. The production features Levi Kreis, E. Faye Butler, and Nova Y. Payton, who are joined by Jay Adriel, Austin Colby, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Michael J. Mainwaring, Stephawn P. Stephens, and Kara-Tameika Watkins. 

Nearly 40 songs are performed during the two hour show, with old time favorites including "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock", and "Love Potion #9." The performers were energetic throughout the show and engaged with the audience. Three of my favorite performances were "Keep on Rollin'" for its choreography, "Pearl's a Singer," and "Jailhouse Rock", which received a rousing ovation. I thought that the songs featuring Butler were done better when she was able to fully use her strong singing voice, such as the reprisal of "Fools Fall in Love" in the second act. Smokey Joe's Café runs until June 8 at the Fichlander Stage. Tickets are available here

Photo by Teresa Wood, courtesy of Arena Stage

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