The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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.

Because there is no dialogue, the story is acted out in song.

“We use costumes for all the periods,” Lucas said. “Because there’s no story, we have to make up for it to keep people engaged.”

There will be audience participation in some songs, but Lucas said audiences tend to sing along through the whole show.

“We have to make sure that every lyric is right,” Lucas said. “We have to be exactly on point. ‘Poison Ivy’ can be tricky.”



Onstage

What: “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

Tickets: $39 for general admission, $37 for senior citizens and members of the Pitt-Johnstown Alumni Association and $29 for students and children.

Information: 269-7200 or (800) 846-2787.