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Review Roundup: Ogunquit's Off-Broadway Bound SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE

Smokey Joe's Cafe

Smokey Joe's Cafe is grooving across the stage at The Ogunquit Playhouse (Bradford Kenney, Executive Artistic Director) through June 9 prior to the New York production. Performances at Stage 42 begin on Friday, July 6. Visit for more information.

Smokey Joe's Cafe is directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse and features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Alejo Vietti, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Peter Fitzgerald, original vocal arrangements by Chapman Roberts, and orchestrations by Steve Margoshes and Sonny Paladino. Music Supervision and new arrangements are also by Mr. Paladino. The show was co-conceived by Stephen Helper and Jack Viertel. It is produced by Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Tom Viertel, who also produced the show's record-breaking Broadway engagement.

Smokey Joe's Cafe features Dwayne Cooper, Emma Degerstedt, John Edwards, Dionne D. Figgins, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, Kyle Taylor Parker, Jelani Remy, Max Sangerman, and Alysha Umphress. This powerhouse ensemble brings new life to more than 30 classic songs including "Stand by Me," "I'm a Woman," "Hound Dog," "Fools Fall In Love," "On Broadway," "Yakety Yak," "Pearl's a Singer," "Treat Me Nice," "There Goes My Baby," "Love Potion #9," "Jailhouse Rock," and "Spanish Harlem."

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Steve Feeney, Press Herald: "Poison Ivy" was another comic blast, with John Edwards in the lead. He later moved to the more serious end of the spectrum with a strong solo on "I Who Have Nothing." Jelani Remy let it all out on the "Jailhouse Rock," executing some very athletic backflips along the way. Kyle Taylor Parker went "Searchin'" in style and eventually found some "Love Potion #9." Shavey Brown offered choice dance moves throughout. Alysha Umphress took things in yet another direction with the countrified "Pearl's A Singer" and vamped the saucy "Trouble" alongside some resonant bass work from Tadano. Nicole Vanessa Ortiz unleashed a raucous "Hound Dog" and aimed high for a soul-stirring "Saved."

Bobby Franklin, Boxing Over Broadway: At no time during the performance did I feel like I was simply watching a bunch of musicians belting out one song after another. Thanks to the brilliant choreography of Josh Bergasse who is also the director, each number was something unique and special. Running through just a few of them, there was Jelani Remy's Jailhouse Rock with some acrobatic dancing that would have impressed Elvis.

Dan Marois, BroadwayWorld: Figgins and Remy are sultry, sexy, and sizzling in their "Spanish Harlem." I could feel the heat off the stage from ten rows back. Umphress has one of the best moments in the show with a spellbinding, "Pearl's a Singer" while Degerstedt and Sangerman perform a sassy "Teach Me How to Shimmy." Parker and the gents do justice to "There Goes My Baby," Remy does a wild rendition of "Jailhouse Rock," and the women dominate the stage with a lively "I'm A Women." Cooper is great for comic relief and a low singing note that seems humanly impossible to produce.

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