Smokey Joe's Cafe
9th November 2017
Aldridge Youth Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Brian Hirst
I haven’t seen this musical revue featuring the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mark Stoller before but I was breathless by the end such was the pace. It was a brave decision to make to put it on as, although it was very successful on Broadway, it isn’t often seen now perhaps because the venue has to be right. The stage at the Youth Theatre was ideal.
The opening chorus and first two solos by Sally Bayliss(Falling ) and Chris Parry(Ruby Baby) got the programme off to a strong start but there were some excellent performances from all the cast both in solos, duets and ensembles. Chris Parry, Sean Westwood, Chris Britt and Stuart Brooke worked well together in their ensembles with some good harmony singing and Stuart also showed off his vocal skills in ‘Teach Me How to Shimmy’ with the help of the dancers. Kerry Flint showed us that she knows how to present a song in ‘Don Juan’ as did Chris Parry with his solos. There were also some good performances from Claire Oatley, Chris Britt, Emma Nicholls, Chante Williamson, Hattie Sketchley-Bates, Emma Wallage, Antony Britt, Nicola Critchley, Michael Mannion, Stuart Brooke, Sean Westwood and William Bosworth whilst Mikee Evans kept us amused by popping up in many places.
A review is difficult to stage but the movement on and off stage and the interaction between characters throughout kept the audience’s interest. The whole performance was supported by a very good band but placing the keyboards in front of the curtain line and the rest of the band at the back of the stage didn’t work. It meant that balance was difficult to achieve and at times the saxophone was almost inaudible .
Well done and bravo for putting on Smoky Joe’s Café!