This review of "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs Of Leiber & Stoller" at the Virginia Theatre was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume II, Issue 1 (March, 1998) of Applause! Applause!
"Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs Of Leiber & Stoller"
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Virginia Theatre (245 West 52nd Street, NYC)
Reviewed 2/19/98 at 8:00 p.m.
All of the songs in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" were written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (alone or with others), except "Spanish Harlem" written by Phil Spector and Jerry Lieber. These numbers included such popular favorites as "Keep On Rollin'", "Fools Fall In Love", "On Broadway", "D.W. Washburn", "Saved", "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", "Teach Me How To Shimmy", "Hound Dog", "Love Potion #9", "Jailhouse Rock", "I (Who Have Nothing)" and "Stand By Me".
Although the entire cast is extremely talented, my clear favorites were James Beeks, a true entertainer, and D'Atra Hicks, who has the looks, voice and talent to go all the way! I was also truly impressed by the near genius choreography of Joey McKneely. This musical, a pure tribute to the songs without the overlay of a fictitious story line, should not be missed!