Energy, synergy and electricity. These are just three words that describe the atmosphere of Halifax County Little Theatre’s latest production, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” directed by Vicky Thomasson, with musical direction by Bob Thomasson.
The show features the songs of Leiber and Stoller, who wrote some of the biggest hits of the 1950s and 1960s.
These hits are being brought to life on The Prizery stage by The Smokey Joe’s Band, led by musical director Bob Thomasson.
“With the stress and commitment of a big show, it is great to have friends that are such good musicians that make my job easy and a pleasure,” said Bob Thomasson, who is playing the piano for the band.
Many of the band members in this production were part of the original HCLT band of Smokey Joe’s Cafe 11 years ago, including John Sibley on the saxophone, Watt Meadows on the guitar, Ray Crawley on the second keyboard and Tony Thomas on the bass guitar.
“Being a part of this production and doing keyboards is like being in a classic band on a reunion tour,” said Ray Crawley.
“When this group plays a score, that camaraderie kicks in with such a vibe…we surprise ourselves sometimes,” added Crawley.
“This will be my fourth musical that I have done with Bob and Vicky at the helm. No doubt I have become a better musician because of them and their leadership,” said guitarist Watt Meadows.
Guitarist Tony Thomas rates this production at the top of all the shows he has done.
“It’s a great and fun musical…we are going to have a great time.”
Rounding out the returning musicians of the band are John and Jane Sibley who have worked with the Thomasson’s on numerous productions.
John Sibley is returning to play these classic songs on the saxophone, saying, “This production will be better than it was in 2008. We have both veterans and rookies in the band and cast, and when you add us with previous experience with the young blood of the new rookies, it all comes together.”
John’s wife, Jane, has helped the cast as their vocal director for the production.
“All of the cast members have done a phenomenal job during rehearsals. Because of their hard work and with God’s help, all “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” performances will be a real treat for the audiences,” said Jane.
Drummer Sammy Garcia and percussionist Kennedy Dyer are the final band members, and the two newcomers, to the Smokey Joe’s gang.
Dyer worked on the 2012 production of “Beehive” when she was just 12, and being a part of this production has meant a lot to her.
Garcia said he is honored to work alongside the group of talented musicians and cast members and has made life-long friends along the way
All band members interviewed all said the same thing when finishing their interviews.
“I feel humbled and privileged to have the opportunity to work with Bob, Vicky, Jane and my fellow band and cast mates,” said John Sibley.
Meadows added, “So many talented folks are a part this show. I’m looking forward to the cast, crew and band ‘bringing it’ to each show and having a blast while doing so.”
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” will open at 7:30 on Thursday, and the show will continue Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 3. Then, the show will continue Tuesday, April 30, at 7:30 and Thursday and Friday nights at 7:30. There also will be a special matinee on Saturday, May 3, at 2, followed by a show Saturday night at 7:30 and a final Sunday performance at 3.
Tickets are currently on sale at The Prizery at 434-572-8339 or prizery.com. Tickets are also on sale for all Prizery events at the Visitor Center.
For all evening performances, Little Theatre will be hosting a Smokey Joe’s Cocktail Hour beginning at 6:30, including some signature drinks based on songs in the show, with all profits going to support the purchase of a special modern imagery projector The Prizery needs for their summer shows.