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Remount of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" Rocks Royal George Cabaret

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'SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE: The Songs of Leiber And Stoller'
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
When: Through May 26
Where: Royal George Theatre Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted
Tickets: $25-$46.50
Info: (312) 988-9000; www.ticketmaster.com
Run time: 1 hour and 40 minutes with one intermission


In the mood for pure, unadulterated joy for the cost of a modestly priced theater ticket? Head out to "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," the joy-inducing revue that has been ideally transplanted from its sold-out engagement at the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre (that storefront wonder in Rogers Park), to the equally intimate confines of the Royal George Theatre Cabaret in Lincoln Park.

This commercial remount might not have the same formidable advertising budget that has sent "Million Dollar Quartet" to the top of the charts both here and beyond. But with its dynamic cast of nine singer-actor-dancers at top spin thanks to director-choreographer Brenda Didier, with its formidable band (with original musical direction by Jeremy Ramey now flawlessly realized by conductor-pianist Kory Danielson and three fellow musicians), and a song list of about three dozen hits by a pair of pop masters who in many ways defined the sound of the late 1950s, '60s and '70s, it should give that show a serious run for every greenback. And of course there is even some Elvis Presley overlap here.


'SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE: The Songs of Leiber And Stoller'
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
When: Through May 26
Where: Royal George Theatre Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted
Tickets: $25-$46.50
Info: (312) 988-9000; www.ticketmaster.com
Run time: 1 hour and 40 minutes with one intermission


In the mood for pure, unadulterated joy for the cost of a modestly priced theater ticket? Head out to "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller," the joy-inducing revue that has been ideally transplanted from its sold-out engagement at the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre (that storefront wonder in Rogers Park), to the equally intimate confines of the Royal George Theatre Cabaret in Lincoln Park.

This commercial remount might not have the same formidable advertising budget that has sent "Million Dollar Quartet" to the top of the charts both here and beyond. But with its dynamic cast of nine singer-actor-dancers at top spin thanks to director-choreographer Brenda Didier, with its formidable band (with original musical direction by Jeremy Ramey now flawlessly realized by conductor-pianist Kory Danielson and three fellow musicians), and a song list of about three dozen hits by a pair of pop masters who in many ways defined the sound of the late 1950s, '60s and '70s, it should give that show a serious run for every greenback. And of course there is even some Elvis Presley overlap here.

Of course Leiber (the lyricist) and Stoller (the composer), were the two Jewish guys who captured the black idiom so brilliantly, penning such crossover gems as "Hound Dog," "Kansas City" and "Jailhouse Rock" -- all winningly rendered in this show. They drew on the blues, and gospel and basic rock and roll. But they also had great theatrical flair and urbane humor, and all of that is wonderfully showcased in this revue in which many teasing relationships and stories are playfully suggested.

Vasily Deris, who ultimately delivers a great, torchy "I (Who Have Nothing)" is the wistful guy who conjures musical memories as he closes up his little Chicago cafe in 1977. And he is often paired with Robin K. Dasilva, the earthy, mischievous, luminous-faced woman with the sensational pipes who has her own torchy way with "Fools Fall in Love," and helps raise the roof in the big company number, "Saved."

DaSilva is joined by Britt-Marie Sivertsen, the adorable little "Teach Me How to Shimmy" blonde, the commanding Kasey Alfonso ("Pearl's a Singer"), and the ever-in-charge Sydney Charles ("Don Juan) for a knockout version of "I'm a Woman." And Jaymes Osborne, TJ Crawford, Steven Perkins and Justin Adair bring their super-blended voices, vivacity and high style to everything they touch.

The cabaret stage here might be small, but this show is huge -- in talent, in spirit, in sound. And really, who needs to be "On Broadway" when Halsted Street can shine like this?

Feeling blue? Just take a big gulp of this show's "Love Potion #9."

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This page contains a single entry by Hedy Weiss published on March 24, 2013 5:01 PM.

Teatro Bundia's "Pedro Paramo" Casts Magical Spell at Goodman was the previous entry in this blog.

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