Northwestern State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance opened up their fall season last Thursday with the musical, Smokey Joe’s Café.
Opening night was Oct. 11 and the performance was a musical revue of 44 songs written by songwriters Leiber and Stoller during the age of rock n’ roll.
The songs are blended into a high paced, energetic performance.
The musical is directed by Pia Wyatt and features Julian Anderson, Billy Applewhite, David Brumfield, Tori Cormier, Rachel Harper, Polanco Jones Jr., Taylor Morgan, DeAngelo Renard, Latreshia Stormer, and Lauren Waguespack, all musical theatre students, as they sing and dance non-stop for two hours.
Wyatt said the inspiration for performing Smokey Joe’s as the season opener was, “It’s is an energetic performance for the audience, but also an easy start for the theatre department and the students involved.”
The students prepared for Smokey Joe’s Café by getting copies of the songs in the summer to learn the ones that would be performed. Wyatt said that as soon as school was back in session, ‘the actors began rehearsing immediately and have had 40 rehearsals.’
With 44 songs to be performed, there have been some challenges with the revue, such as learning the dances that accompany the songs or learning lyrics, but Wyatt mentioned that she has helped her actors overcome these challenges by ‘being supportive, and a good listener and leader.”
However, the revue is entirely a student based show, Wyatt has used the help of her student assistants to work on problems the musical has experienced.
Smokey Joe’s Café has no plot; the musical is simply a celebration of some of the greatest hits written by Leiber and Stoller.
The musical’s first number was “Neighborhood”, a lively all cast ensemble as the actors emerged from doors placed above the set, which resembled a 1950’s bar.
For the duration of the revue, actors sang, either in solos, duets, or groups, songs that were once popular during the era of rock n’ roll. For example, classic hits like “Yakkity Yak”, “Hounddog”, and “Ruby Baby” were all featured in the revue.
One amazing feature about Smokey Joe’s Café is that all the music used for the songs were recorded live by fellow performing arts students.
The revue ends with “This is Rock N’ Roll”, a spunky, fun final number to close out Smokey Joe’s Café that will leave the audience smiling.
Smokey Joe’s Café is being performed in Theatre West in the Creative and Performing Arts Building of Northwestern State University.
The show will run today, Wednesday, until Friday, Oct. 20, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for seniors/children.
All NSU, LSMSA, and BPCC students get in free with their student ID. Reservations for Smokey Joe’s Cafe are mandatory so call (318) 357-4483 to purchase tickets.