Saturday, Jul 30, 2016
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Valentine Theatre becomes ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’

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From left are Derrick Baker, Christopher Brasfield, Jose Figueroa, Ron Lucas, and Danes Robinson in a number from ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe.’



Cast member Ron Lucas says ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ appeals to all age groups.


Smokey Joe's Cafe, the Broadway revue that hits all the right pop and R&B notes with songs such as Hound Dog, Stand By Me, and Fools Fall In Love, comes to the Valentine Theatre Sunday.

The show, nominated for a Tony Award for best musical in 1995, showcases the music of the songwriting team of composer Jerry Stoller and lyricist Mike Leiber. They wrote hits that were recorded by Elvis Presley (Hound Dog, among others), the Coasters (Yakety Yak), Peggy Lee (I'm a Woman), and many more.

The Toledo show will include 34 songs, ranging from the 1950s to the early 1970s, written by Leiber and Stoller (some in collaboration with other songwriters), plenty of high-energy dancing, and very little dialogue to get in the way of all that music.

“The great thing we've found when we’re touring is, it doesn’t matter what age the people are,” Ron Lucas, a member of the cast coming to Toledo, said in a phone interview. “You’d think [the show] would mostly target Baby Boomers that know those songs, but [the songs] have been done so many times that young people know them too.” The songs have proved their staying power, he added, some of them becoming part of the culture, thanks to their use in commercials and TV shows.

The songs that usually get the strongest applause are I'm a Woman (which often gets a standing ovation), Hound Dog (they'll be doing the original version recorded by Big Mamma Thornton), Fools Fall In Love, and I Who Have Nothing,” he said.

In addition to Lucas, who has appeared in regional productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Elegance of Ellington, Hair, and Jesus Christ Superstar, in which he portrayed Judas, the cast of Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Valentine includes Sandra M. Bonitto, who made her Broadway debut in Ragtime, and Derrick Baker, who has appeared in the national tour of Five Guys Named Mo. There also will be a five-member band onstage, and some opportunities for audience participation, Lucas said.

“Smokey Joe's Cafe” will be performed at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St., as part of its Broadway series. Tickets, $56, $46, and $36, are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday from 419-242-2787, at the box office, or from

Film series

Launch Pad Cooperative has a new Featured Films series to showcase local and regional filmmakers. The inaugural screening, at 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery, 911 Jefferson St., will feature work by local filmmaker Tim Ide. Doors open at 7:30 pm.

New location

The Oregon Community Theatre has changed locations for its Reader’s Theatre production of The Good Doctor at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; it will be at Faith United Methodist Church at Starr Avenue and Coy Road. Tickets are $5 at the door. Free tickets were included in mailings to season ticket holders. For information, call 419-691-1398 or go to

Contact Sue Brickey at:

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