Highland Community College’s 41st season of Summerset Theatre will present “Smokey Joe’s Café.” Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on July 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19 on the stage of the Fine Arts Theatre located in the Ferguson Fine Arts Center on the Highland Campus.
Presented in revue format, the 39 songs are performed by members of the cast in various combinations. This is the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, all 50’s and 60’s style, with songs such as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Kansas City,” “Stand By Me,” “Hound Dog,” “On Broadway,” and more. The music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was nominated for seven 1995 Tony Awards, including best musical. The musical duo, as much as anyone, virtually invented Rock n’ Roll, and now their songs provide the basis for an electrifying entertainment that illustrates a golden age of American culture. In an idealized 50’s setting, the classic themes of love won, lost and imagined blend with hilarious set-pieces and slice-of-life emotions.
Director is Mark Jansen; chorographer is Julie Smith; Quynnetta Sanders is vocal director, and Allen Redford serves as music director, and Dave Vrtol is technical director.
There is a local Freeport tie to this musical production. Mike Stoller, is the husband of Corky Hale, formerly known as Merrilyn Hecht, who lived in Freeport and graduated from Freeport High School. Hale, who has made a name for herself as a performer, has backed up such notable performers as Tony Bennett on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; soloed with Barbra Streisand in Central Park; performed with George Michael at London’s Royal Albert Hall; played harp for Liberace and Judy Collins and played piano for Billie Holiday, Mel Torme and Harry James.
Hale said she is proud to know her husband’s musical revue will be performed at Highland Community College. While she and her husband will be unable to attend the local performance, she said “Smokey Joe’s Café” still holds the record as the longest running musical revue in Broadway history.
“This show is played everywhere, almost 365 days a year, from Tokyo to Zurich and now Freeport,” Hale said. “I am proud to know the work of my husband can be heard in my home town.”
Tickets can be purchased online at highland.edu or by contacting the Highland box office at 815.599.3718. Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and $8 for students.