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Smokey Joe's Cafe 

When: Sept. 20-29 2012
Studio Tenn Theatre Company has settled into a comfortable niche — producing acclaimed productions of classic plays and musicals at the historic and refurbished Franklin Theatre. Their first musical of the 2012-13 season is not as readily familiar as, say, The Sound of Music or Guys and Dolls, but this revue, built around the songs of the great pop/rock/R&B writing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, features a wealth of vintage material that will resonate with the old (because they remember hearing them coming out of their radios back in the day) and the young (because the tunes are so enduring). As always, Studio Tenn makes the effort to cast serious talent: Here they tap American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle to lead a standout cast of vocalists including local performers Libby Hodges, Ryan Greenawalt and Laura Matula, plus Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez, a husband-and-wife duo known as Johnnyswim. (Amanda is the daughter of the late Donna Summer.) The Leiber-Stoller catalog is flat-out legendary, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Kansas City,” “Yakety Yak,” “Searchin’ ” and “Poison Ivy.” All of those are in the show, plus about 30 others. Matt Logan directs, and the musical director and conductor, fresh off his gig with The Nutty Professor, is Steve Kummer.
— Martin Brady

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