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Smokey Joe's Cafe
The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
Smokey joe's cafe.jpg
Original Cast Recording
Music Jerry Leiber
Mike Stoller
Lyrics Jerry Leiber
Mike Stoller
Book Revue
Productions 1995 Broadway
1996 West End

Smokey Joe's Cafe is a musical revue showcasing 39 pop standards, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues songs written by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Original Broadway cast recording, Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs Of Leiber And Stoller won a Grammy award in 1995.

After a Los Angeles tryout, the revue opened on Broadway in 1995, running for 2,036 performances, and had a London run in 1996.



In revue format with no unifying theme the 39 songs are presented by various members of the cast in various combinations, with no dialogue. There are novelty songs ("Charlie Brown"), romantic ballads ("Spanish Harlem") and infectious melodies ("There Goes My Baby").[1]


Lyrics and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (unless otherwise noted)

Act I
  • Neighborhood (Music and Lyrics By John Sembello, Ralph Dino, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Young Blood (Music and Lyrics By Doc Pomus, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Falling
  • Ruby Baby
  • Dance With Me (Music and Lyrics By Louis Lebish, George Treadwell, Irv Nathan, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Keep On Rollin'
  • Searchin'
  • Kansas City
  • Trouble
  • Love Me/Don't
  • Fools Fall in Love
  • Poison Ivy
  • Don Juan
  • Shoppin' for Clothes (Music and Lyrics By Kent Harris, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • I Keep Forgettin'
  • On Broadway (Music and Lyrics By Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • D.W. Washburn
  • Saved
Act II
  • Baby That Is Rock & Roll
  • Yakety Yak
  • Charlie Brown
  • Stay a While
  • Pearl's a Singer (Music and Lyrics By John Sembello, Ralph Dino, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Teach Me How to Shimmy
  • You're the Boss
  • Loving You
  • Treat Me Nice
  • Hound Dog
  • Little Egypt
  • I'm a Woman
  • There Goes My Baby (Music and Lyrics By Benjamin Earl Nelson, Lover Patterson, George Treadwell, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Love Potion #9
  • Some Cats Know
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Fools Fall In Love(Reprise)
  • Spanish Harlem (Music and Lyrics By Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber)
  • I (Who Have Nothing) (Music and Lyrics By Carlo Donida, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • Stand by Me (Music and Lyrics By Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
  • That Is Rock & Roll


Smokey Joe's Cafe was conceived by Stephen Helper, Jack Viertel, and Otis Sallid.[2] Presented in a revue format with no unifying theme, it showcases 39 songs, sung by members of the cast in various combinations, with no dialogue.[3] The musical had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles where it ran from November 1994 to January 22, 1995.[4]

The revue opened on Broadway on March 2, 1995 at the Virginia Theatre and closed on January 16, 2000 after 2,036 performances. Directed by Jerry Zaks with choreography by Joey McKneely, the nine person cast featured Brenda Braxton, Victor Trent Cook, B. J. Crosby, and DeLee Lively. Throughout its run, there were special appearances by many popular singers, including Pam Tillis (April 1999), Gladys Knight (May 1999), Tony Orlando (June 1999), Lou Rawls (April 1999),[5] Gloria Gaynor (August 1999)[6] and Rick Springfield (October 1999).[7] Gladys Knight also appeared in the tour when it played Boston in February 2000.[8] The final performance was filmed and later released on DVD in 2001.

It premiered in the West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre on October 1, 1996 and ran through January 1, 1997. Zaks directed and McKneely choregraphed, with some of the Broadway cast (Cook, Lively and Crosby) repeating their roles.[9][10][11]


The theatre critic for the magazine Variety, in reviewing the Los Angeles tryout, noted that "the songwriters, director Jerry Zaks and choreographer Joey McKneely don't do enough packaging of the material, don't go far enough taking songs first heard on transistor radios and re-imagining them for the stage...There are a couple of halfhearted attempts at structure. The show opens and closes with the 1974 obscurity "Neighborhood," which suggests this will be a scrapbook of memories."[4]

Ben Brantley, the theatre critic for The New York Times wrote that the revue "is a strangely homogenized tribute to one of popular music's most protean songwriting teams...There has obviously been a decision not to go for literal period nostalgia, so the songs are freed from their distinctive original contexts...Too often, though, the performers are simply singing into space without any ostensible reason for being there."[12]

The theatre critic for the The Guardian (London), noted that the London cast consists of "acting singers rather than singing actors, which suits a show where there's almost no acting to be done. Whew - no pesky plot development or subtexts, just a glut of glowing pop tunes...There's no attempt at chronology, or even biography."[10]

According to the theatre critic for the Washington Post, Peter Marks, the revue "never quite attained smash-hit status", but it made popular the musical fashioned on the existing work of "pop composers already beloved by baby boomers."[13]

Awards and nominations

1995 Tony Award nominations

The original cast recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1996.


  1. ^ Stoudt, Charlotte."Review: 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' at El Portal Theatre",L.A. Times, December 16, 2008
  2. ^ "Internet Broadway Database listing, Smokey Joe's Cafe, 3/2/1995 - 1/16/2000", accessed August 24, 2009
  3. ^ Stoudt, Charlotte."Review: 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' at El Portal Theatre",L.A. Times, December 16, 2008
  4. ^ a b Taylor, Jonathan. "Legit Reviews: Smokey Joe's Cafe", Variety, November 21, 1994 - November 27, 1994, p. 45
  5. ^ Feldberg, Robert. "Broadway seeks out big names", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin), April 5, 1999, Section: Cue & Jump p. 3
  6. ^ Barron, James. "Public Lives", The New York Times, August 5, 1999, p. B2
  7. ^ Edel, Raymond. "People", The Record (Bergen County, NJ), September 23, 1999, p. A2
  8. ^ "Gladys Knight to star in touring version of 'Smokey Joe's Cafe'", The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), December 11, 1999, p. 40
  9. ^ Chronology of London Shows,, accessed August 22, 2009
  10. ^ a b Sullivan, Caroline. "First Night: Air Of Nostalgia At Smokey Joe's", The Guardian (London), October 24, 1996, p.2
  11. ^ Benedict, David. "Theatre: Smokey Joe's Cafe Prince of Wales Theatre, London", The Independent (London), October 25, 1996, p. 19
  12. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theatre Review: 'Smokey Joe's Cafe', The Song's the Thing: A Leiber-Stoller Revue", The New York Times, March 3, 1995, p. C1
  13. ^ Marks, Peter."'Smokey Joe's Cafe': Same Old Same Oldies",Washington Post, April 12, 2008

External links



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