By Emily Schoenbeck
I could have sworn I didn’t like musical revues. But I must, since Smokey Joe’s Cafe was a pleasure from the first beat to the last refrain. Wichita State University’s production was so tightly choreographed and well-paced it turned two hours into the blink of an eye. Rocking and rolling out such hits as “Jailhouse Rock” and “Stand By Me”, the show had audience members on their feet clapping along.
The nine person cast was outstanding down to the last actor. Musical revues are carried on the voice talent of their ensembles. This cast not only bore the weight of these classic tunes but took many of them to new heights. The four “drifters” in particular infused their numbers with a playfulness many might not have anticipated in these oldies. Backed-up by a spirited band, the show hits not just musical, but comedic beats as well.
It would be remiss to not also give a nod to the production’s costume team, who managed not only beautiful period outfits, but quick changes that must have themselves been a considerable feat.
How can you not to sing the praises of such a smarty performed musical revue? Walking in, I can’t say how many were familiar with Leiber and Stoller. Walking out, I can guarantee the ranks of their fans swelled. If you find yourself needing a little love, this is one show you don’t want to skip. Your only regret? That you can’t join them onstage.
Smokey Joe's Cafe
Words and Music by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller
Directed by Amy Baker Schwiethale
Cast Keshana Cook, Da ‘Merius Ford, Dylan Harris, Brittnee Hill, Amanda Huehl Phillips, Deiondre Teagle, Melvin Thampy, Madi White, Naaman Williams
Band Philip M. Taylor, JuleAnn Troutman, Jimmy Jensen, Andy Slater, Dion Burton, Micah White
Designers & Crew
Musical Director- Philip M. Taylor
Production Stage Manager & Scenic Designer- David Neville
Costume Designer- Catie Wieck
Lighting Designer- Alyce Murphy
Sound Designer- Marlo Griffith