What I love about this musical is that it doesn't try to create some silly story to tie all of the songs together with cheesy dialogue (i.e., the jukebox musical). In fact there's no dialogue at all, just 90 continuous minutes of music. But the fun thing is that each song is a mini story unto itself (as good songs are, and these are good songs). The staging by director/choreographer Joshua Bergasse creates a sense of relationships among the cast as they're telling these separate little stories in each song, that together combine to form a loose story of a group of old and new friends hanging out at a bar. No words needed, other than Jerome Leiber's clever lyrics combined with Michael Stoller's catchy tunes. Especially in the hands of this crazy talented nine-person ensemble who are not just amazing singers and dancers, but also storytellers.
|the W-O-M-E-N of Smokey Joe's (Jorie Ann Kosel, Emily Scinto,|
China Brickey, and Rajané Katurah, photo by Dan Norman)
|the fab four (Dwight Leslie, Shavey Brown, Rendell DeBose,|
and Kevin Brown Jr., photo by Dan Norman)
|Ben Bakken asks Emily Scinto "Teach Me How to Shimmy"|
(photo by Dan Norman)
While this show may just be song after song after song, it's far from monotonous. The entire space is used well (including the aisles of the theater), and many different combinations and permutations of cast and band are used throughout the night. The Ordway Original Smokey Joe's Cafe is a celebration of beloved mid 20th Century American pop music and a showcase of incredible local talent. Catch it in downtown St. Paul through September 22 only!