JCJC’s Theater department presents Smokey Joe’s Café

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2017-02-16 16:24:26

ELLISVILLE – The 1996 Grammy awarding winning musical, “Smokey Joe’s Café : The Songs of Leiber and Stoller,” will be presented Friday and Saturday, March 24, and 25, at 7 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium at Jones County Junior College.  Nine JCJC students,  Devin Boothe of  Lucedale, Coco Caldwell of Laurel, Amy Champion of Lafayette, Louisiana, Antonio Ducksworth of Raleigh, Katie Hovan of Hattiesburg, Jonathan LaCourse of Long Beach, Davonzell Moncrief of Montrose, Addison Nelms of Brandon and Carter Poister of Laurel, will rock and roll their way through nearly 40 songs in a musical review of hits from the 50’s and 60’s. Songs included in the production include, “Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “There Goes My Baby,”  “Spanish Harlem,” and “Poison Ivy.”  JCJC musical theater producer and music director, Jennifer Hart explained there really aren’t any leads in the show; all nine cast members play a significant part in this jukebox musical review.
“I wanted the students to bring the house down with show-stopping numbers that are so much fun to sing. Young people today aren’t familiar with the tight harmonies and the doo-wop feel of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, but crave the challenge of singing music with great chords because they’ve been exposed to a cappella singing on shows like ‘The Sing Off’ and movies like ‘Pitch Perfect.’ A lot of the vocal jazz that is so popular now has its roots in early Rock and Roll. Smokey Joe’s Café features tunes that provide a balance of fun, lighthearted moments along with tender ballads. The show runs about an hour and a quarter, so we’ll go straight through with no intermission.”
Everyone will likely recognize at least one song in the show because all of the songs were written by the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller but were made famous by popular groups and soloists of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s like Elvis Presley, the Coasters and the Drifters. Performing the hits of stars from that era was a little intimidating at first for some of the cast but the music has been a blast to perform, and it has pushed students like sophomore, Jonathan LaCourse from Long Beach, out of his comfort zone.
“The rock-n-roll of the ‘50’s is a genre I don’t normally sing. Additionally, the lack of a true narrative has served as a method of strengthening my acting skills.  Also, dancing isn’t my strong suit, so the amount of choreography is giving me a lot to practice!” said LaCourse.  
Another familiar cast-member, Laurel’s Carter Poister, offered a unique perspective preparing for the show.
“I have enjoyed this show because it’s like immersing yourself in another culture.  I imagine that older viewers will enjoy it and younger viewers will have fun watching the high-energy musical numbers,” said Poister.
This is a great show to bring all the family to, from grandmas all the way to kids who will get a thrill from the action and high energy dancing said Hart. This musical theater production is a showcase for talented singers who get lots of stage time. It’s also an opportunity to perform hit songs with a live band which is not something most of our students have the opportunity to do.
“Smokey Joe’s Café is the best show I’ve ever heard of and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it.  I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with the different costume changes and the music is phenomenal! I can’t help but dance to it! I can’t wait to perform!” said Coco Caldwell of Laurel.
Guest Director Rob Mulholland is joined by choreographer Paige Perkins with Derrick Meador accompanying the singers. JCJC students, Caroline Taylor of Laurel is handling the duties of stage manager, with Ellisville’s Jordan Sanders assisting her. AJ Robinson of Hattiesburg and Hayley Smith of Picayune are rehearsal pianists.
Tickets for adults will be $10 and JCJC students get in free with their student ID. For more information, contact Jennifer Hart, musical theatre instructor at jennifer.hart@jcjc.edu or 601-477-2376.


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