The Songs of Leiber and Stoller.
Directed & Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
Music Direction by Roberta Duchak.
At Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrance.
Fabulous staging with high energy cast makes this revue is a sure fire hit.
Until I talked to a cast member after the show, I found it difficult to believe that Drury Lane’s polished production of Smokey Joe’s Cafe wasn’t an import from another city!. The fantastically difficult staging, the powerful stage chemistry and the slick movements were so fine, that it is amazing that director Marcia Milgrom Dodge could present such detail in about two weeks of rehearsal! You’ll not see a cast work so hard, belt the Leiber and Stoller song while giving each song an edge of its own. This revue on the detailed set (designed by Kevin Depinet) anchors the manic stage complete with on on-stage kick-ass band giving the dedicated cast of 9 a special arena to dazzle.
The songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller prolific composers of 50- 70’s pop, rick, R & B. blues and gospel tunes. You may not know them by names but you’ll know their songs: “Kansas City,” “Fools Fall in Love,” “On Broadway,” “Charlie Brown, ” “Spanish Harlem, ” “Hound Dog, ” “I’m a Woman, ” “There Goes My Baby, ” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Stand By Me.” Many of us grew up with these hit tunes.
These guys wrote an amazing variety of toe-tapping tunes that were sung with gusto, verve , and loads of heart. The cast features a fine assortment of local Equity performers. This spirited cast includes: Justin Keyes, Carrie Abernathy, Sean Blake, Donica Lynn, Meghan Murphy, Amy Orman, Tyrone Robinson, Chris Sams, and Will Skrip.
This fast-paced two hour revue is a non-stop songfest that has enough well performed classic rock, pop and R & B to please. . Director/choreographer Dodge has the cast doing movement and dance routines that work effectively on stage. The harmonies and the blended vocal arrangements together with the outstanding musical arrangements by Roberta Duchak sounded terrific. These nine performers demonstrate their talents and we get to hear the songbook of two relatively unheralded composers. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s tunes come alive in this fun revue. Smokey Joe’s Cafe ranks as one of the longest running reviews on Broadway (2,036 performances) and it has had a long run in the city by Theo Ubique a few years ago.
Take you family to see this nostalgic musical revue of early rock, R &B and blues hits that shaped a generation. Everyone will have fun toe-tapping and clapping to the infectious tunes. The showmanship and quality performances will stun you! You’d be hard pressed to see a stronger cast that is one -their skills and sheer energy will impress you. Good time abound at Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
Date Reviewed: September 8, 2016.
For more info checkout the Smokey Joe’s Cafe page at theatreinchcago.com.
At Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, call 630-530-0111, www.drurylanetheatre.com, tickets $43 – $60, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm, Thursdays at 1:30 & 8 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5 & 8:30pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, Running time is 2hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through October 23, 2016.