Bringing back rock ‘n roll: The UDT presents ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’

Amber Gomez, Staff Reporter

Returning for the second time in the UTEP Dinner Theatre’s history is the “most successful revue” to ever hit campus.

The premiere in 2004 of “Smokey Joe’s Café” was a standing-room-only hit and featured music by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller.  In this year’s  offering, the lighting, stages and a few faces are new, along with some familiar ones.

“Smokey Joe’s Café” is a musical revue, a production that focuses on mainly the music and showcases nearly 40 songs from Lieber and Stoller. The revue will be presented by various members of the cast in several combinations with no dialogue. Some hits include “On Broadway,” “Stand by Me,” “Jail House Rock” and many more.

“The audience will have a blast watching and listening to famous songs from their past come to life on stage,”  said cast member Doris Velez. “It may very well provide a little trip down memory lane, as they reminisce what the songs meant to them when they first heard them.”

According to production and music director Patricia Provencio, the cast was kept smaller with some new talent, but also includes some of the veteran performers such as Velez. Director Greg Taylor described the new cast as fantastic group of singers/actors and a very talented cast.

“It has been great to hear the different interpretations of the songs by the people new to ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ this year,” Taylor said. “Every person who sings brings a different sound to songs you have heard before, and they put their own twist on songs you may be familiar with.”

One of Taylor’s favorites being performed is “Stand by Me” because of its great melody and wistful lyrics. According to him, this song will be a perfect finale for the show, and the audience who views the performance is sure to love it.

“A show like ‘Smokey Joe’s’ rises to a whole new level when the audience is really into it and tapping their feet, clapping their hands and mouthing along to the lyrics,” Taylor said. “The show comes alive when it goes in front of an audience!”

He encourages all UTEP students to give the UDT a try as “Smokey Joe’s Café” is “a perfect introduction because it is a non-stop hit song after hit song.”

“Smokey Joe’s Café” is part of a season of musicals to celebrate UTEP’s centennial by bringing back this historical production.

“We can certainly hope this show will bring in lots of people to share in the joy of the show,” Velez said. “Truly the focus goes to putting on a great show that will make the audience happy and coming back for more.”

Opening night will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31 at the UTEP Dinner Theatre, located in the second floor of the Union West Building.

For more information on performance dates and prices, call 747-6060.

Amber Gomez may be reached at [email protected]