From “Jailhouse Rock” to “Stand By Me,” from “Spanish Harlem” to and “On Broadway,” Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote some of the most enduring rock-n-roll hits ever recorded. Starting today at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theatre , talented high school and college-age musical actors will bring their hits to life in Smokey Joe’s Café.
This year, the annual collaboration between the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) Arts Education department and the New Jersey Youth Theatre (NJYT) summer musical is “on the road,” because America’s Got Talent, the hit NBC series is broadcasting live from NJPAC’s Prudential Hall through September. The show features 42 songs, with only one intermission. Director Cynthia Meryl says, ” This show is really fun, nothing but carefree fun. Get up dance in the aisles. The kids are fantastic — wow like a Broadway show!”
Sets, props and wardrobe operations, onstage and backstage, will be in the hands of professional designers and technicians, assisted by interns in each area. This NJPAC/NJYT production features young actors (the cast of 11 ranges in age from 15 – 24,) from across the metro-area who go through a rigorous audition process and learn the demands of an Actors’ Equity-level rehearsal and performance. Stephen Mir, a lead in last year’s Kiss Me, Kate, said, “After three years and taking part in four different shows with NJYT/NJPAC, I have a keen sense of what is professional. I’ve been made aware of respect and hard work.” Other local talents are MHS alum Chaance Barnes, Brandon Mengan from West Orange High School and Alex Thompson of Maplewood.
Smokey Joe’s Café is playing at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University on July 18 at 12:30 p.m.; July 19 at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m.; July 20 at 7:30 p.m.; July 21 at 7:30 p.m. and July 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $30 to $35, $20 for students 18 and under, and are available by telephone at 1-888-GO-NJPAC, at the NJPAC Box Office at One Center Street in downtown Newark, or online.
Smokey Joe’s Café is made possible in part by The McCrane Foundation; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Provident Bank; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Discover Jersey Arts; the Lillian P. Schenck Fund; Yahoo! Employee Foundation/Silicon Valley Community Foundation; and the Westfield Foundation.