Wayne Brady, Emily Padgett, Aisha Jackson, Chester Gregory and Alysha Umphress are among the cast of a developmental reading of Smokey Joe’s Café, Playbill.com has learned.
Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Tom Viertel, who ushered the show to Broadway in 1995, confirmed August 23 that there will be invited presentations of selections from the musical revue in September in anticipation of a Broadway production to be announced. Cast members began posting about their first day of rehearsal August 22.
The cast also includes Dwayne Cooper, J. Daughtry, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz and Ben Thompson.
Directed by John Rando, the presentation will feature musical direction by Sonny Paladino and choreography by Joshua Bergasse.
The Tony Award-nominated musical revue, featuring the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was initially announced for this summer.
According to the initial casting notice, Jerry Zaks—who was Tony-nominated for his direction of the 1995 production—was again to take the helm of the New York City revival. Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle (After Midnight) was to choreograph with musical direction by Paladino.
The revue features some of Leiber and Stoller's best known songs including “Kansas City,’ “Searchin',” “On Broadway,“ ”I'm A Woman,“ ”Poison Ivy,“ ”Yakety Yak,“ ”Charlie Brown,“ ”Jailhouse Rock“ and “Hound Dog.”
Cast members from the original production reunited Feb. 9, 2014—exactly 19 years following its first performance on Feb. 9, 1995—for a concert production at Feinstein's/54 Below under the direction of Tony nominee Brenda Braxton. Read more about the evening here. Smokey Joe's Café was eagerly embraced by audiences despite initial skepticism in the press when it opened. The show ran 2,036 performances; Smokey opened March 2, 1995, and closed Jan. 16, 2000.
It was nominated for seven 1995 Tony Awards, including Best Choreography (Joey McKneely), Best Direction (Zaks), Best Featured Actor (Victor Trent Cook), Best Featured Actress (Lively, Braxton and B.J. Crosby) and Best Musical.