Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Smokey Joe's Cafe
Also see John's review of Tall Grass
If you are looking for a story with your music, you won't find it in Smokey Joe's Cafe, as the show itself has no through-line. If you are looking for just plain good music, however, you'll find that this show is packed with familiar, energetic and sentimental chart-topping hits such as "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Young Blood," "On Broadway," "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Potion #9," "Poison Ivy," "Baby, That is Rock and Roll," "There Goes My Baby" and "Stand By Me."
The production of Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Maltz has a simple street scene set, with colorful costuming from the time period. The lighting and the five piece band are tight and clean. The nine cast members all have strong featured moments. Marya Grandy has a set of pipes built to belt with the best, and she shows it off in "I Keep Forgettin'" and "Pearl's a Singer." Jaygee Macapugay has a playful, earthy quality in her performance, especially as Poison Ivy and in the song "Don Juan." Gayle Tuner has an edge to her voice that reminds one of the late Nell Carter, and sings best in "Fools Fall In Love." Dwayne Cark adds smoothness to the mix with his voice which is at its best in "There Goes My Baby."
A handsome Steven Dorian does a great job with "Jailhouse Rock." He has the weakest of the male voices, however, and seems to be more presentational in his style than the rest of the cast. Erica Sweany is beautiful and sexy, especially in "Teach Me How To Shimmy," but she lacks some of the meaty sound of the other females. Jody Reynard has a sweeter sound in his voice than the other men, and sounds best in his duet with Gayle, "Dance With Me." Eric LaJuan Summers has an agile and versatile voice well suited to singing Motown. His performance in "I (Who Have Nothing)" is one of the show's best moments. Phillip Boykin is the find of this show. It is rare to hear a real, rich bass voice such as his. It is matched with a comedic style that is charming and childlike. He does a nice job in "You're The Boss," but his voice can be heard as the foundation of the great vocal harmonies throughout the show such as in audience favorites "Spanish Harlem," "On Broadway" and "Stand by Me."
Smokey Joe's Cafe debuted in Los Angeles in 1994 and opened on Broadway on at the Virginia Theatre on March 2, 1995. In 1995 the production was nominated for seven Tony Awards, and the original Broadway cast recording won a Grammy Award. The show closed on January 16, 2000 after 2,036 performances, making Smokey Joe's Cafe the longest running musical revue in Broadway history. The final performance was filmed and released on DVD in 2001.
Smokey Joe's Cafe will be presented at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through February 10, 2008. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a 550-seat, nonprofit, community-based Equity regional theatre belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, and the Florida Professional Theatre Association. This theatre employees both local and non-local Equity and non-union cast and crew members. The theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, FL. Show times are Tuesday - Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.. For tickets to this show, and complete information on the theatre's offerings, you may contact them by phone at 561/ 575-3332 or 800/ 445-1666, and online at www.jupitertheatre.org.
*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.