Saturday, April 30, 2016
"Smokey Joe" Solid If You're Old Enough
This is a musical revue featuring 41 songs that are heavy on the early 1950s and early 1960s. It is an adept cast of nine competent singers and dancers, each of whom brings special skills that lend themselves to these period pieces. Casting was appropriate for this one.
The energy is high, when you look at what's going on stage. Not so much with the audience which, as you might expect, was pretty passive given what was happening in front of it.
The music mix is heavy on the Coasters ("Poison Ivy," among others) and Drifters ("On Broadway," etc.), Elivs (complete with blue suede shoes on "Jailhouse Rock"), novelty songs ("Charlie Brown," "Little Egypt," "Yakety Yak," etc.), a number of drippy teen love ballads ("I Who Have Nothing"), a couple of torch songs and even a gospel tune that rocks. "Pearl's a Singer," sung by Desiree Dillon (who has considerable upside) and "D.W. Washburn," sung by Morris Crosby and the company, stood out among some fresh moments.
The cast is veteran, professional and generally comes with a New York accent. As Showtimers' recent "Rent" demonstrated, it's probably an inspired idea to go outside the Valley for signing talent in a big show.
Artistic Director Ginger Poole, who is always above the crowd, and Director/Choreographer Peppy Biddy (love the name) put it all together for a pleasant evening. Unless you're too young to know what the heck's going on. Ask, for example, a 30-something (or a 40-something, or maybe even a 50-something) to explain these lyrics from the Coasters' "Searchin'": "Well, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade got nothin', child, on me. Sergeant Friday, Charlie Chan and Boston Blackie." Who, pray tell, is Boston Blackie? You need to be my age to explain that one.