The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

September 16, 2009

'It's a crowd-pleaser' | Doo-wop to meet rock 'n' roll in musical revue at Pasquerilla

BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

The joint will be smokin’ with hot music.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a rock ’n’ roll musical revue, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Michael Bodolosky, arts center executive director, said the show will feature nine singers and a live band.

“It’s classic doo-wop and vintage rock ’n’ roll,” Bodolosky said. “It’s jam-packed with tunes I love, like ‘Charlie Brown,’ ‘Yakety Yak’ and ‘On Broadway.’ ”

The show features tunes by the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoler, who also wrote such hits as “Poison Ivy,” “Hound Dog,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.”

“Leiber and Stoler cornered the market on early rock ’n’ roll before Barry Gordy established Motown,” Bodolosky said.

The Tony Award-winning musical was on Broadway for five years, closing in 2000.

“It was the longest running rock ’n’ roll tribute on Broadway,” Bodolosky said.

Bodolosky said the show will be 90 minutes long, with two acts and an intermission.

Ron Lucas, one of the performers, said the music is good for everyone, regardless of age.

“The kids hear their parents singing it around the house, then by the end of the show, they’re singing it,” Lucas said. “Each of the songs has a story, so everybody can relate to them.”

Irving Street Repertory Company has had “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” in production all over the country for three years.

“It’s a crowd-pleaser and the most popular show we do,” Lucas said.

“Nobody in the cast wants to quit.

“It’s a lot of fun.”

The songs are sung in chronological order, shadowing Leiber and Stoler’s career.

“They start out kind of homey, growing up in the ’50s, then they get more slick when Leiber and Stoler went big time,” Lucas said.

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