The joint is jumpin’ and the hits are happenin’ as Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Baltimore presents Smokey Joe’s Café – an upbeat musical revue-style show that features the classic hits of Leiber and Stoller. The names may not sound familiar but all the tunes will – featuring well loved numbers like “Love Potion No. 9,” “You’re the Boss,” and “Fools Fall in Love,” this kick-back to the 1950’s will have you tapping your toes and singing along as the ten talented performers sing and dance their way through the show.
The costumes, designed by Janine Sunday, will give you that extra little push back in time to take the journey along with this cast of singing sensations to a nightclub or a bar lounge. The boys get suits in some scenes with brightly colored ties and cummerbunds, and the girls get well fitting dresses and spicy red outfits for appropriate numbers like “Don Juan.” While the costumes are delightful – the true visual entertainment comes from all of the dancing. Choreographers Asheigh King and Anwar Thomas provide incredible dances that keep the audience whooping and hollering as the songs roll on. The sense of unity among the performers is outstanding – each choreographed number perfectly in synch while some of actors manage to stand out in their own special way. Keep your eye on Bryan Daniels throughout all the group dances – he steals the show with his funny faces and extra gestures.
All the boys have their bodies rocking with doo-wops and snaps during “Ruby Baby” and again in “Dance with Me.” There are more scene stealing shenanigans in this dance number from Daniels – he is a man you won’t want to take your eyes off as he stands out in the ensemble. And the women get their chance to show off their dance moves – mostly a lot of sensual action in the number “Don Juan” where Deb Buonaccorsi, Coby Kay Callahan, and Mary Searcy show off their fiery tango moves with Derek Tatum. Buonaccorsi really gets to show off in “Teach me How to Shimmy,” where she spends the entire number with her hips moving like humming bird wings as she teases Nick Lehan who sings the song. And the whole house comes down in “Jailhouse Rock” as everyone is onstage dancing like they’re losing their minds. The fierce beat keeps these dancers rocking as Derek Tatum takes on an Elvis-like quality swiveling his hips and making the ladies go weak in the knees.
The dancing is divine and the singing is superb. Every singer in the show has a powerful voice and they all get the chance to express their beauty throughout with strong belting numbers that captivate the audience and bring forth thunderous applause. “Keep On Rollin” is a great showcase of the male vocal talents, featuring a competitive intro between David Little, Bryan Daniels, Jonathon David Randle, and Marquise White. These four men try to out-sing each other by bellowing their opening notes and holding them as long as they can; but when the song starts it’s a perfect four-part harmony. And the women get a similar chance in the number “WOMAN” where Coby Kay Callahan, Deb Buonaccorsi, Mary Searcy, and Kelli Blackwell each take a verse and belt out the power of what it is to be a woman. Each of these splendid performers will have the audience wishing they were on stage moving and grooving to the beat.
Bryan Daniels provides a powerful solo during “Searchin” and he will keep you in good spirits as he leads the men in a great dance routine here. Kelli Blackwell does the same in her number “Saved” belting out with soul – leading the group in a huge number that’s similar to a tented holy rollers revival. And we see the fiery exotic side of emotion from Deb Buonaccorsi and Mary Searcy as they slink onstage for “Trouble” – wearing burlesque shimmy skirts with red sequins. These two ladies spice things up as they sing and dance their way all over the men’s hearts. Buonaccorsi tones down the sexy to saucy in her number “Some Cats” and exudes sensuality as she sashays across the stage, a slower, smoother song to evenly pace the evening. And hell hath no fury like a woman scorned in “I Keep Forgettin” another powerful belting sorrowful yet vengeful ballad performed by Coby Kay Callahan.
You’ll ‘trip the light fantastic’ with these incredible performers and the ‘hot’ band conducted by Cedric D. Lyles. These incredible young singers will move you from your seat, and the dancing will bring you to your feet. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a wild and crazy night out at the theatre with Smokey Joe’s Café.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, with 1 intermission.