By Margie Barron
The award-winning hit Broadway show “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller” is turning The Pasadena Playhouse into a bountiful feast of rock’n’roll classics. The feel-good song-and-dance show is playing from Sept. 17 to Oct. 13 and features the hit songs written by the legendary songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who gave a generation the treasured soundtrack of their lives.
The musical revue is a showcase for about 40 unforgettable numbers, including “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Kansas City,” “Little Egypt,” “Yakety Yak,” “D.W. Washburn,” “Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Love Potion #9,” “Fools Fall in Love,” “I Who Have Nothing,” “I’m A Woman,” “On Broadway,” and many more rock’n’roll standards, plus rhythm and blues, romantic ballads, and the surprisingly sassy and sexy “Don Juan” number. The master of memorable melodies, Mike Stoller revealed that’s one of his all-time favorites.
“There’s also the special song ‘Stand By Me,’ which became a hit twice, 25 years apart, and just keeps going,” Stoller proudly noted. In addition to the songs, marvelous performers, great choreography, and everything else, Stoller said a key ingredient that makes the show such a masterpiece is that “it is directed and choreographed by Jeffrey Polk, who starred and toured with the show for years and knows how to make the magic happen on stage.”
There’s no book creating a traditional story for the show, but Stoller believes the revue works because “people create their own story by thinking about where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing when they first heard these songs. But it certainly doesn’t exclude those who are hearing the songs for the first time. Every generation can understand the lyrics written by the brilliant Jerry Leiber, a word-man par excellence,” Stoller said in praise of his late songwriting partner.
He added, “People are going to have a lot of fun. That’s why it became the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, and audiences have enjoyed it around the world.”
The cast for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” includes LaVance Colley, Kyra Little Da Costa, Thomas Hobson, Stu James, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Monique L. Midgette, Robert Neary, Michael A. Shepperd, and Carly Thomas Smith.
Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director, and Elizabeth Doran, the Executive Director for The Pasadena Playhouse, announced that “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller” is being presented this season in honor of Playhouse supporter and Board member, Mike Stoller and his wife, Corky Hale Stoller. It runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 13. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. For tickets call (626) 356-7529 or go to PasadenaPlayhouse.org.