The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
Directed & Choreographed by Brenda Didier
Music Direction by Jeremy Ramey
Produced by Thoe Ubique Cabaret Theatre
At No Exit Cafe, Chicago
Tuneful and heartfelt revue of songs by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Director Brenda Didier and music director Jeremy Ramey have mounted a fabulous musical revue of the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller prolific composers of 60- 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.” Any of those ring a bell? I thought so.
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 non-Equity performers. There are three expert dancers: TJ Crawfrd, Sydney Charles and Steven Perkins who also sing with zest. Britt-Marie Sivertse is a white girl with loads of soul while Justin Adair croons up a storm. The entire cast effortlessly delivered the song book, especially by Robin K. Dasilva and Vasily Deris.
Robin nailed the gospel anthem “Saved” plus “Fools Fall in Love’ and her “Hound Dog” was a blues treat. She got help from Vasily Deris, the strongest entertainer in the ensemble. Vasily is a belter who nailed several songs including “Jailhouse Rock” in the style of but not an imitation of Elvis. Vasily is a plus-size talent who can sing, dance and act. He is the anchor of the show.
This fast-paced two hour revue is a non-stop songfest that has enough well performed classic rock, pop and R & B to please. Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre has the formula down as how to mount musical revues. In this show, director/choreographer Brenda Didier has the cast doing movement and dance routines that work effectively on her intimate stage at the No Exit Cafe. The harmonies and the blended vocal arrangements together with the outstanding musical arrangements by Jeremy Ramey on piano with his three musicians, gave the show a strong acumen. The music blended with but never over powers the singers. A Theo Ubique trademark finds no amplification of the singers or the musicians yet all can be heard with terrific enunciation. These ten 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 best revues yet mounted by Theo Ubique. Get to No Exit Cafe to experience a terrific cast singing their hearts out. You’ll have fun.
Talk Theatre in Chicago Podcast
Date Reviewed: September 30, 2012
For more info checkout the Smokey Joe’s Cafe page at theatreinchicago.com
At No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL, www.theo-u.org, tickets $34 – $39, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through November 11, 2012