Theatre Review: Music Circus' "Smokey Joe's Cafe"

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

California theaters and restaurants are no longer smoke-filled rooms. So the Music Circus sets the mood for this nostalgic show with stage fog, while a black quartet rolls out retro chords.


Then it’s on with the hits by the songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller. This two hour musical revue has nearly 40 of their tunes, many of which you’ll recognize.

(music, Gonna Find Her)

This show is what it is – a friendly compendium of catchy R & B pop standards, staged as cute visual vignettes – the situations are a bit worldly, but nothing really racy. Don’t go looking for a story that connects everything; it isn’t there. “Smokey Joe’s” is more of a cabaret piece. It’s bright and bluesy by turns, always playful, and slickly performed throughout. And if one of the numerous novelty songs doesn’t grab you – or the second act sometimes feels a tad long -- don’t worry. Another song, probably more diverting, will arrive on stage within three minutes, max.

"Smokey Joe's Cafe" continues at the Music Circus through August 31st.