CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
National tour of hit Broadway revue 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' opens in
Hancher Sept. 18-20
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The new national tour of the hit Broadway musical
revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe -- The Songs of Leiber and Stoller"
will open with three performances in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium
at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18-19, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept.
20. The cast will assemble in Iowa City for the final three days of rehearsals
on the Hancher stage before the opening.
Although Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are members of both the Songwriters'
Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, most of the public does
not know their names. But everyone knows their hit songs from the '50s
and '60s -- "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Yakety
Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Poison Ivy," "Spanish
Harlem," "Stand By Me," "On Broadway," "Love
Potion #9," "Kansas City," "Ruby Baby," "I'm
A Woman," "Is That All There Is?" and "Fools Fall in
Love," to mention just a few.
Among the artists whose careers were established on Leiber and Stoller
songs were Elvis Presley, the Coasters and the Drifters. Leiber and Stoller
songs have been recorded by an array of pop, rock, blues and soul artists
including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Peggy Lee, Jay
and the Americans, James Brown, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy
Holly, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Mathis, John
Mellencamp, Lou Rawls, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Otis
Redding and B.B. King.
"Smokey Joe's Cafe" showcases the energy, innovation and humor
of many of the most popular Leiber and Stoller hits, including the title
tune. But the non-stop singing-and-dancing party at "Smokey Joe's
Cafe" also captures the spirit of an American era -- the days of first
kisses and last dances, sidewalk struts and sideways glances, blaring car
radios and quiet moonlight strolls.
For it's run on Broadway, where the show is now in its fourth year,
"Smokey Joe's Cafe" won a Grammy Award and was nominated for
seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The London production that opened
in 1997 is still going strong.
It's a show that the Minneapolis Star Tribune called, "bouyantly
tuneful, exhaustingly energetic . . . a dynamite evening of entertainment,"
and Time magazine hailed as "an exuberant, colorful celebration."
Leiber and Stoller, who met as teenagers just after World War II, were
part of a generation of white youth who defied the racial segregation of
American music, embracing blues and other forms of African-American music.
Their music was a central part of the bridge that eventually connected
American popular music in the mass appeal of R and B, rock and Motown music.
Their early music was recorded by Jimmy Witherspoon, Charles Brown and
other black artists. The series of Leiber and Stoller hits began with
Big Mama Thornton's recording of "Hound Dog" in 1953. Soon they
became the songwriting team behind the success of the Coasters, composing
"Searchin'," "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown"
and "Poison Ivy." Other hits were recorded by Ben E. King ("Stand
By Me," "Spanish Harlem" and "I Who Have Nothing")
and the Drifters ("On Broadway," "Dance With Me" and
When Elvis Presley released his version of "Hound Dog," with
Leiber and Stoller's "Don't Be Cruel" on the flip side, he topped
the pop charts for 11 straight weeks and established his stardom. Elvis
went on to record more than 20 Leiber and Stoller songs, including "Love
Me," "Loving You," "Jailhouse Rock," "Treat
Me Nice," "I Don't Care," "Bossa Nova Baby," "Santa
Claus is Back in Town," "She's Not You" and "Trouble."
The touring production of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" is directed
by Jerry Zaks, whose New York productions including "Guys and Dolls,"
"Laughter on the 23rd Floor" and "Six Degrees of Separation"
have won him four Tony Awards, for Drama Desk Awards and an Obie. Musical
staging is by Joey McNeely, whose work can be seen in the Meg Ryan/Tim
Robbins film "IQ."
The creative team also includes Tony Award-winning scenic designer Heidi
Ettinger ("The Secret Garden" and "Big River"); costume
designer William Ivey Long, who won a Tony Award for "Crazy for You"
and has also designed for the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour; and veteran
Broadway and off-Broadway lighting designer Paul Gallo, winner of the 1986
Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design.
The corporate sponsor of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" at Hancher is
Telegroup Inc., with media support by KDAT-FM, through the University of
Tickets for "Smokey Joe's Cafe" are $38, $35 and $33. UI students
and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for
audience members 17 and younger are half price.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa,
dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is
toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged
to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases
to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option
of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
Audio description, for audience members with visual impairment, will
be available at the Sept. 20 performance.