BWW Reviews: Gateway Presents SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE - Rock And Roll in Bellport

By: Jun. 18, 2014
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If you want a high-energy show, Smokey Joe's Café is definitely for you. The musical revue, on Broadway from 1995-2000, highlights the music of songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The spectacle has forty of their hit songs done back to back including "Love Potion Number 9", "Yakity Yak", "Stand By Me" and "Jailhouse Rock". Believe me when I say that you will be dancing in your seat at some point.

Tony Award nominee Chet Walker superbly directs and Choreographs Gateway Theatre's incarnation running through June 28th at their beautiful Bellport venue.

First and foremost, a special treat for audiences is legendary R&B/Rock group The Coasters are featured in this production. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers appear several times throughout the production to take on a handful of the show's numbers. The Coasters were instrumental in ushering in the Rock and Roll era and even though the members have changed, you can tell they are having a great time in the show and truly appreciate the enthusiastic response.

The Coasters include Dennis Anderson, Primo Candelaria, Eddie Whitfield, and Joe Lance Williams. Rounding out the rest of the stellar cast is Nik Alexander, Malcolm Armwood, Yvette Clark, Seth Danner, Robert Fowler (Broadway: The Producers, Beauty and the Beast, et. al.) Kathleen McCann, Erin McGrath, Marla McReynolds (Broadway: The Color Purple, Chicago), and Jody Reynard (Broadway: Legally Blond, Taboo, et. al.). Not only is everyone extremely talented, the company is absolutely gorgeous and made the show very sexy.

Another highlight is the incredible band that's on stage with the cast. Leading them is Musical Director David Truskinoff (Broadway: Rent, Hair 2011 Revival, End of the Rainbow). The band is comprised of Todd Olson, Charles Leech, Jeff Potter, Ray Sabatello, and Mark Gatz. It seems safe to say that they are having as much fun as the cast is. Additionally, Steve Paladie's set was fun and colorful. Large, movable structures beam lights of several colors giving the stage a funky look. This is enhanced by everyone looking beautiful in Martin T. Lopez's costumes.

And so, Gateway certainly has another hit on their hands with this incarnation of Smokey Joe's Café. Is this production consistently produced? Sure. However, when you have a Broadway caliber cast, wonderful director, and an amazing band, you simply have to indulge.

Smokey Joe's Café is presented by The Gateway Theatre of Bellport, Long Island. Words & Music by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Direction and Choreography by Chet Walker, Music Direction by David Truskinoff, Casting by Michael Baker, Set Design by Steve Paladie, Lighting Design by Brian Loesch, Costume Design by Martin T. Lopez, Wig Design by Trent Pcenicni, Sound Design by Don Hanna. For more information and to purchase tickets please call 631.286.1133 or visit www.gatewayplayhouse.com.

Photo by Jeff Bellante



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