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On September 22, in sunny Pasadena, the Pasadena Playhouse presented ‘Smokey Joes Café: The Songs of Lieber and Stoller’ to a capacity audience. Running until October 13, those interested in musical theater will be thrilled with the talents of standout singers Kyra DeCosta, as ‘Brenda,’ and Thomas Hobson as ‘Ken.’
The play is an amalgamation of wonderfully 39 of Rock and Roll’s greatest hits that weave together to form a story about relationships and love that is set in a 1940’s style café. Fashion flowed with movements that included a ‘headless manikin scene’ where the manikins danced and grooved around as one of the male characters shopped. Another memorable scene began with destitution, as another character had given up hope when a chorus of army soldiers came and danced around him, lifting his spirits just enough for a woman dressed in a choir robe came to pick him up out of the dirt.
“I am so thrilled and honored to be working for the first time at the Pasadena Playhouse with this production,” said director Jeffrey Polk.
The evening brought out many stars, such as Eric Bennet, “It’s been a pleasure, being here for Smokey Joe’s Café,” said Bennet, “I thought the cast was so strong, everyone individually was stunning, but then I have a bias, because one of my background singers, LaVance Colley, brought down the house with ‘I Have Nothing.’ I’m so proud of him tonight.”
“Fantastic! So much amazing music,” said actress Vanessa Williams after the show, “So many profound performances. All the cast have amazing vocal tones and vocal ranges. There’s nothing like the theater, so come and see.”
Actor Thomas Hobson was delighted at the swelling audience and their positive buzz regarding his performance. As he spoke to journalists, many happy spectators offered impromptu comments on the performance that he gave. “According to all these people out here, it went really, really well,” said Hobson. ‘For me it was great. I got close to tears a couple times. It’s just such a great group of people from the actors to the band, to the director to the assistant director, to the stage manager, everyone involved in the show were just great human beings.”
According to Hobson, the cast of Smokey Joe’s Café had been rehearsing with eight to twelve hour days for the past three weeks to prepare for the show.
Several actors played multiple roles during the play. One of the standouts was Kyra DeCosta, who not only sang beautifully, but performed a ballet piece as well. “[Preparing for the play was] Allot of hard work, allot of fun,” explained DeCosta, “Its being me, who I am. That’s the best way to interpret the character. Find a way to relate to it. Then with the great direction of Jeffery Polk, that’s when the magic happens.”
For more information on the play Smokey Joe’s Café, or the Pasadena Playhouse, go to www.PassadenaPlayhouse.org.