New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller

From 32 critic and 383 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Entertaining, Delightful, Great staging, Refreshing

About the show

An all-new incarnation of the record-breaking Broadway hit revue celebrates the best songs of the legendary song writing duo, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. More…

Their generation-defining songs climbed the Billboard charts and provided hit after hit for icons like Elvis Presley, Ben E. King, The Coasters, and The Drifters. With themes of love won, lost, and imagined, their songs touched global audiences with wit and emotion.

1h 30m | Already closed | Stage 42 (Midtown W)

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Hearing those songs delivered by a cast of nine extraordinary singers and dancers backed by a powerhouse eight-member band is an experience not to be missed...The cast fills Boritt’s towering Café set with solo numbers, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, and full company numbers that transport the adoring audience back to a glorious past with themes that reverberate in the present and continue to be relevant in the future...'Smokey Joe’s Café’s' current incarnation is a must-see show." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"Non-stop energy, a feel-good mood, powerhouse vocals, and a kick-ass band make for one must-see Off-Broadway revival...Under the ebullient direction and choreography and original vocal arrangements, a dynamic and expressive cast not only delivers the blockbuster tunes and period-style dance with pizzazz, but brilliantly enacts the storylines, characters, and emotions inherent in the songs’ lyrics...Each segment is a highlight and every performance a delight." Full Review


"'Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller' is back in a new version and as directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse ('On the Town,' 'Cagney,' 'Sweet Charity,' NBC's 'Smash'), it is burning up the floor of Stage 42. The songs (pop, jazz, rock, R&B, blues, and gospel) of this prolific team which were originally sung by Elvis Presley, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ruth Brown, Perry Como, and Ben E. King should be familiar to all." Full Review

Stage Left

"For theatregoers looking for a jolt of high energy, head-shaking, toe-tapping fun, a rocking and soulful new revival of 'Smokey Joe’s Cafe' didn’t open so much as explode...It’s hard to resist this hyperkinetic 90 minutes of pure, joyful, electric entertainment. I suggest you submit to its feel-good charm...There’s not a wrong note, nor a missed opportunity for humor or pizzazz, from start to finish. I am hard pressed to think of another ensemble as universally talented as the one assembled ... Full Review

City Cabaret

"Nine exuberant performers who frizzle with energy on the intimate off-Broadway stage without even trying...Director/choreographer Joshua Bergasse stages a snazzy production for this revival...Bergasse provides innovative new looks to old tunes, giving each performer a solo star turn...Not haute cuisine, 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' is a tasty must-see powerhouse menu of entertainment that hopefully will not be transferred to Broadway. It's happy just where it is." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“A top-notch revival...Director-choreographer Bergasse...has infused the proceedings with a sense of joy that ripples through the superlative nine-person company...There’s no strongly discernible narrative theme...Rather it’s that sense of joy that provides the context. And the surprising variety of the songs themselves gives them a plentitude of opportunities to win over the audience...There is indeed probably something for everybody.” Full Review

Showbiz 411

"The revival is a home run. Do not hesitate to see it right. The nine main performers are superb, each one a star waiting to happen...Bergasse sets up little narratives in each song, so that Lieber and Stoller’s intent is realized whether it’s a hit or a rediscovered gem. What really comes across is that these songs have stood the test of time. You needn’t be contemporaneous to them to enjoy their magnificent melodies and lyrics. Frankly, this show comes at the right time." Full Review

Labor Press

"'Smokey Joe’s Café' makes a triumphant return as the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller rocks the house...This hour and half show gives the audience the thrill of show-stopping and toe-tapping numbers...Joshua Bergasse does an amazing job directing and choreographing a talented cast of nine young performers...A remarkable tuneful funfest for the entire family." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Its approach…shouldn't prevent anyone with a melody in their head, rhythm in their bones, and nostalgia in their heart from boogying down…to see and hear this awesomely entertaining revival roll out a succession of mid-20th-century chart toppers. Nine gloriously talented, supercharged, ultra-personable performers…demonstrate a powerful arsenal of vocal, terpsichorean, and comic skills that keep the audience engaged for an intermission-less hour and 30 minutes." Full Review


"A remarkably enjoyable affair thanks to a powerhouse cast and reimagined staging...It also helps that these are some of the greatest songs from the American pop repertoire, still capable of stoking teenage dreams and salving emotional wounds...It's a simple concept that works extraordinarily well...The jukebox musical is here to stay, but 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' reminds us that there is a way to do it that minimizes cringes and maximizes smiles: by going back to the basics of the revue format." Full Review


"Despite the powerhouse voices, savvy performance skills and slick dance moves the audience is treated to throughout the 90-minute production, the feel is that we're watching a group of friends letting off steam after another hard work week...Whether these songs are a fond part of your memories, or if each new tune is a fresh discovery, this wonderfully realized production of 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' will send you out to 42nd Street humming a full medley of them. What a fun, fun night out." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"This new production is filled with the same amazing songs that have and will last a lifetime. Soaked in a feeling of nostalgia, this irresistible show will also bring a new legion of fans...A throwback to a era gone by, when life was simpler and we didn’t read into things. Instead it is night filled with pop, R&B, gospel, little bit of rock, soul, a lot of doo-wop and is exactly what we need." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Infectiously fun...Perfect lighthearted summer entertainment...The production's propulsive, nonstop energy barely leaves room for the audience, let alone the ensemble, to catch their breath...There's no narration or particular structure, just one terrific number after another, but the diversity of the musical styles keeps the proceedings from feeling repetitive...There are a few missteps. The musical staging can occasionally get a bit hokey, but that's more the exception than the rule." Full Review


"A scintillating new production is likely to take New York by storm again...What's new is the clever way it's been staged. There's nothing cabaret-like about Joshua Bergasse's pacey direction and sizzly choreography...Given the mood defining lyrics and this cast's powerhouse singing and dancing and ability to reveal emotions, dialogue is unnecessary...Leiber and Stoller's songs fit this more connected and emotionally potent presentation very well." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“Never underestimate the power of superbly performed, old fashioned, rock n’ roll...Bergasse imbues this exceptional production with attitude, soul, winking humor, ebullience, and energy...Pacing and flow couldn’t be better...Palladino’s top notch arrangements and wonderful, onstage band raise material to the level of gourmet- without pretension. You’ll bob in your seat, tap your feet and leave with cheeks sore from grinning." Full Review

Front Row Center

"'Smokey Joe’s Café' doesn’t mess around with plot contrivance or try to squeeze the songs into a theme. It’s just the songs, folks, no dialog, no patter. And really, the songs speak for themselves...Bergasse does a stunning job of choreographing the men in their group numbers...It wasn’t only the comic numbers that were terrific...'Smokey Joe’s Café' is a hand-clapping, finger-snapping, foot-stomping, good time at the theater." Full Review


"Things are smoking over at 'Smokey Joe’s Café'...The spectacular singer Alysha Umphress is on hand to work miracles with 'Trouble' and the poignant 'Pearl’s A Singer'...And the men are terrific too...The whole cast keeps delivering (and there’s even a little drag bit), and though two oversung numbers towards the end threaten to turn this into 'American Idol,' the show recovers and gets the audience standing." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Features an incredibly energetic cast of nine performers…Boasts a talented quartet of male singers…While their combined sound is terrific, they display their own musical personalities as well…The cast and orchestra work extremely hard and their talents pay off because the audience loves the performance...'Smokey Joe’s Cafe' is a wondrous trip down musical memory lane. For those new to the music, the show is a great introduction to the talents of Lieber and Stoller.” Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“Filled to the rim with knockout performances and musical moments that fly non-stop off the stage with such relish and energy...It’s impressive, but with so many songs stacked one on top of the other...My excitement started to wane...No story line to follow, nor any characterizations to pay attention to, just song after song performed with style and swagger...Cute, charming, funny, and vocally fantastic, but I’m learning that a plot-free review might just not be enough for this theatre junkie.” Full Review

New York Theater

"It is the most memorable example in the show of what we can call The Bergasse Workout, which I’m naming after the production’s inventive and obviously demanding director/choreographer Joshua Bergasse...A polished collection of musical numbers, a pleasant diversion...The revival feels more varied in tone, and includes some grit; Bergasse’s choreography often helps supply a sense of context." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"A slick entertainment packaged from nearly 40 of the team’s compositions...It is essentially the same jukebox show as its earlier incarnation...A feast of nostalgic ear-candy that is expertly dished out by a talented nine-member company...Trimming back the proceedings to a swift, intermission-free 90 minutes, they have reworked the winning song stack somewhat, but not appreciably so...The show unquestionably offers an entertaining romp through old-school rock ‘n’ roll." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“Guaranteed to be clapping and singing along with this expert cast...There’s no plot to speak of, which allows the audience to simply enjoy the very talented artists...Transitions seamlessly from song to song...Points to Bergasse for putting actual musicians on stage and having them do their own song...The rollicking eight-piece band makes the café seem like place to hang out...Come for the nostalgia, stay for the songs and the transportive performances.” Full Review

AM New York

“No plot, characters or dialogue — just songs...The production represents ‘Smokey Joe’s’ at its best, with nine talented performers and a swinging band leading the audience through a pleasant retrospective of baby boomer hits...While one may appreciate its classic songs and feel-good spirit, a sense of monotony kicks in before too long. Recognizing this, Bergasse has removed the intermission and emphasizes hyperkinetic movement and audience interaction.” Full Review


"A revue of three dozen of these toe-tappers, entitled 'Smokey Joe's Café,' made Broadway history two decades ago - and is now back in an energetic, excellently-performed revival at Stage 42. While this group of performers works superbly together, Bergasse does give each of his players their own chance to shine, and many of those numbers are among the show's strongest." Full Review

The Wrap

"An elaborately staged new production that presents Lieber and Stoller’s tunes that wallows in nostalgia and old-fashioned showmanship...A talented cast segues from song to song without pausing for dialogue, and restrict dramatization to the characters in the songs themselves...It’s an enjoyable showcase of classic rock-pop tunes that seldom really lets loose...Bergasse & Co. also color within the lines in other ways too, invoking a nostalgia that probably seemed dated even in 1995." Full Review

Delightful, Great singing, Must see, Great staging, Perfection

See it if You want to see talented singers create nonstop entertainment in a show filled with magical moments. My favorite off -Broadway production!!

Don't see it if You want a play- each song tells its own story through song and dance. If you don't want a fun time that literally has people dancing out of

Also the theater (which has excellent sight lines.)

Great singing, Great staging, Delightful, Entertaining, Riveting

See it if Love rock and roll... singing to great music... amazing dance numbers... just having a good time.

Don't see it if you are looking for a musical theater show. This is a musical revue.


See it if you like jukebox musicals that are all about the music--and nothing else.

Don't see it if you're not particularly fond of musicals that don't have a storyline--or you're not a fan of the Lieber/Stoller songbook in the first place.

Also From the opening number, "Neighborhood" (which is reprised twice) to t... Read more Read less

Non-stop entertainment with a wonderfully talented cast

See it if You love musical reviews and want great talent singing familiar songs.

Don't see it if you need a plot for a musical. But really just go see it

Also I will see this more than once. Also the set was beautiful. Shout out ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great singing, Absorbing, Great dancing

See it if You have seen it before, this is a brand new production with much dancing added, which was fantastic.

Don't see it if You don't like that kind of music.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Must see, Masterful

See it if You want a specacular time in the theatre! Sing and dancing are super and the music is memorable.

Don't see it if You need a plot.

Great acting, Great singing, Great dancing, Must see, Entertaining

See it if you love the music of Lieber and Stoller or just music in general, dancing, and lots of fun.

Don't see it if you don't love music and dancing and are in for more serious shows.

Clever, Funny, Enchanting, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if If you enjoy great singing and dancing. It was a blast to the past with all those great hits from the 70s.

Don't see it if If you are not into song and dance shows

Excellent, Great singing, Must see, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if a fan of jukebox musicals or music from Leiber & Stroller. It’s a superb show and you will leave feeling happy. Go see Smokey Joe’s Cafe!

Don't see it if looking for a show with more depth and a story to go along with it.

Also This show is 90 minutes of pure toe tapping tunes. The entire cast is ... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Fluffy, Feel-good

See it if you would like to hear great songs from the 60s performed well

Don't see it if you need a storyline to enjoy. There's none here

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Impeccable cast, high-energy, perfectly directed, even some dancing with audience members in aisles. Not one weak link in the cast.

Don't see it if You are in the mood for a drama instead of a fast-paced musical.

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if Upbeat, happy, great singing and dancing, a feel good show.

Don't see it if you don't like music and dance

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great singing, Must see

See it if ... You loved olides, great singing some entertainment. Amazing performance!!!

Don't see it if Even the youngest child in the audience enjoyed the performance. Can't think of a reason you won't love it

Entertaining, Funny, Great singing, Great staging, Great music

See it if you love great singing and catchy, memorable songs.

Don't see it if you only like shows with a story.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Must see

See it if you enjoy musical revues with each song telling a story; you love talented singers and dancers performing

Don't see it if you don't enjoy revues even if the cast is super-talented

Funny, Entertaining, Great singing, Must see, Delightful

See it if You love great music and voices. So much talent.

Don't see it if Can't think of one reason why you won't love this show.

Entertaining, Delightful, Great singing, Awesome

See it if you love great music especially songs from the 50s and 60s and want to be entertained with seeing these songs come to life on stage

Don't see it if If you need a story, If you don’t like music, if you want to see a play, if you don’t like to be entertained with singing and dancing

Delightful, Great singing, Great staging, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You love the music of the 50's and 60's. Great singing and terrific dancing. Love the Elvis songs, the shimmy, etc.

Don't see it if You need a storyline. This is an all singing and dancing show. Don't love golden oldies.

Also Special kudos to the Jailhouse Rock singer and the strong dancing. Ver... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Refreshing

See it if You want great singing and dancing Total pure entertainment

Don't see it if You want a serious play This is just pure entertainment

Great singing, Great staging, Must see, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if You love jazz

Don't see it if Not a fan of jazz

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Great music

See it if This is all Singing, Music and Dancing. You will see some very talent sings.

Don't see it if If you want a story.

Also This is my first time seeing Smokey Joe's Cafe. The Whole Cast was gre... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Absorbing, Enchanting

See it if you love super talented singers who also happen to be super talented dancers.

Don't see it if you need story.

Delightful, Entertaining, Enchanting, Clever, Funny

See it if If you're love rock n' toll and the songs of Leiber and Stoller. Fine singers, beautifully staged, choreographed. Great humor.

Don't see it if Do not want to transported!

Entertaining, Great singing, Must see, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you want to hear vintage pop music classics brilliantly performed by one of the best casts in NYC. Family friendly, not to be missed!

Don't see it if you hate juke box musicals, don't like musicals, need a scripted story, or if you are deaf.

Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if This is the most energetic cast anywhere. Great singing and clever performances of great songs, and a wonderful, talented band as well.

Don't see it if You expect a plot, as each song is separately acted, danced, performed. Also don't see it if you don't like R&B and rock from the '50s & 60s

Also All the performances are terrific, but special mention should be made ... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (15)