'Smokey blazes a trail
The buzz began as soon as the curtains parted, and from then on it was super-charged, high-octane rock 'n' roll until we bopped our way out of the theatre some two hours later. It may have had only the slightest of story lines, but there was plenty of humour and enough well-known 50s songs Jailhouse Rock, Spanish Harlem, On Broadway and many more to keep everyone¹s feet tapping.
Director Neil Mathieson and his production team of Georgina Smith (choreographer), Jonathan Spratt (musical director) and assistants Andrea Young and Carly Simmerling, simply worked a miracle.
Brilliant lighting, great back-slides, fantastic costumes, an excellent band and, first and foremost, a cast of 20 highly talented individuals who sang, danced and acted as if their lives depended on it, made for a production that took the word 'amateur' right out of the picture.
'50s and 60s tunes and
THE toe tapping tunes of the 50s and 60s were dramatically bought to life inthe song and dance extravaganza, 'Smokey Joe's Cafe', performed jointly by Highcliffe Charity Players and Arena Theatre.
Fantastic costumes, masterful choreography and legendary Lieber and Stoller hits, which included 'Hound Dog'. 'Stand By Me', 'Jailhouse Rock', 'Pearl's A Singer', 'Love Potion No. 9' and 'Spanish Harlem', gave the sold out Regent Centre crowd a real musical treat.
The show, which must have been a logistical nightmare for the two amateur groups, was directed by Neil Mathieson, with Jonathan Spratt as the musical director and Georgina Smith as chief choreographer. The frequent costume changes and smooth transitions between the 40 dramatised musical hits resulted in a seamless performance which gelled together beautifully.
Shelley Gould's 'Pearl's A Singer' was particularly memorable as was the amusing rendition of 'Some Cats Know' by Tracey Barrington and Pete Whitaker. Other highlights included 'Kansa City', 'Teach Me How To Shimmy', 'Hound Dog', and 'I'm A Woman'. The use of photographs and newspaper cuttings from the 50s and 60s displayed on a massive sliding screen, added to the authenticity of the performances, particularly in the ladies rendition of 'Neighbourhood'.
'Smokey Joe's Cafe' was a dazzling, energetic show and credit to all involved.