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Review: SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE at ACT Of Connecticut

The hit musical revue highlights the classic songs of Leiber and Stoller.

Review: SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE at ACT Of Connecticut

On Friday, October 1, 2021, I had the pleasure of returning to the ACT of CT in Ridgefield, CT, to see yet another amazing performance, SMOKEY JOE'S CAFÉ, a phenomenal show featuring the legendary music of songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were the writers of many of the greatest rock n' roll songs of the 1950s, songs that to this day remain among the greatest of all-time. The excellent direction and choreography of Stephanie Pope Lofgren enhances the quality of this production starring an extremely talented cast the includes Albert Guerzon, Arnold Harper II, Avionce Hoyles, Jordan Fife Hunt, Keyonna Knight, Courtney Long, Kelly MacMillan, and Juson Williams. Whether collaborating in full ensemble numbers, harmonizing in smaller groups, or performing solo, every cast member truly shines in this production, through singing and dancing. They furthermore have excellent stage chemistry with each other, both in terms of their synchronized dancing and harmonized singing.

Music Director John Bronston leads the live band featuring the talents of Tom Cuffari, Gary Blu, Al Orlo, Kevin W. Callaghan, and Russ Nyberg, who were onstage. The accompaniment of the band smoothly complements the cast, as if the band had been performing for that cast for years.

As traditional with the ACT of CT, the set is breathtaking. It features two levels, and multiple places for cast members to suddenly enter and exit.

There is no storyline, just entertaining song after song, with the central message or theme seeming to be in the song "Neighborhood," the opening number which gets twice reprised, essentially reminiscing and longing for earlier times.

I was surprised that I didn't know many of the songs, beyond those that were at some point recorded by Elvis Presley, the Coasters, the Drifters, or Ben E. King. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed many of the songs I didn't know, especially "Saved" and "Shimmy."

How to Get Tickets

I highly recommend SMOKEY JOE'S CAFÉ, which is scheduled to continue to run at the ACT of CT in Ridgefield, CT, through October 24, 2021. For times and tickets, please go to Tickets.



Review: ESPEJOS/CLEAN at Hartford Stage Photo
Hartford Stage is presenting a remarkable and courageous New England premiere: Christine Quintana's bilingual play, Espejos/Clean. The play gives us two very different women: Adriana, from Chetumal, Mexico, who speaks Spanish and a bit of English, and Sarah, from Vancouver, who speaks only English.

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Westport Country Playhouse will present a Script in Hand playreading of the stinging comedy, “As Bees in Honey Drown,” on Monday, February 13, at 7 p.m., written by Douglas Carter Beane and directed by Mark Shanahan.

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The Warner Theatre's Winter Film series continues with Love & Basketball, February 16 at 7 pm in the Oneglia Auditorium! The following Thursday, the Warner will present Hidden Figures on February 23, 7 pm in the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre.  


From This Author - Sean Fallon


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