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But parents at the Edison meeting wanted to know how to fight against hate. The phrase “there is no ‘them,’ just ‘us,’ ” can be hard to accept given the negative messages coming out of Washington, D.C., these days, said one parent who declined to be named. “Since the 2016 election, I feel that there is a ‘them,’ ” she said. “It’s so pernicious to me and my family. I am experiencing a level of hate within myself that I have never felt.”. Regev, a middle school teacher, urged tolerance for and from all sides in America’s political debate.
There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going brown leather ballet flats on at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City for the next two weekends. Also a lot of shimmying, rockin’, rollin’, yakety-yakin’, swingin’ and all-out liveliness, That’s because the addictive performers in “Smokey Joe’s Café” are gonna find you, entice you, captivate you and frequently astonish you with their polished dancing, their exuberant singing and mega joyful antics in Broadway By The Bay’s latest smash production, Little wonder that “Smokey Joe’s Café,” a compilation of 39 rock-and-roll hits of songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, opened on Broadway in 1995 and ran for nearly five years — the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history..
Though it didn’t receive rave reviews from New York theater critics, “Smokey” did get seven Tony nominations that year (but no wins). Interestingly, a London critic noticed that the British version cast “acting singers rather than singing actors.” But Brandon Jackson’s direction encourages both delicious singing and acting. Each of the nine performers steal the show at least once or twice. But it’s the male quartet that clearly won the title of audience favorites on opening weekend. They’re all sensational, both individually and even more so when they sing in perfect harmony, dance crisply and demonstrate delightfully diverse personalities.
The revue starts off rather slowly, with the five-person band, lead by Sean Kana, playing stage center at the rear, There’s simplistic complexity in scene designer Kelly James Tighe’s two-story skeletal steel structure and two chair-high brick walls that are moved about at will, The back wall looks like something that has been primed and then had a very wide paintbrush painted here and there with brown paint, The entire cast comes out one, two or three at a time as they softly sing “Neighborhood,” a structure repeated at the end of the show. But that song and the next five or six are mostly forgettable, All the while, the audience is getting restless, wondering where all brown leather ballet flats this is going..
That’s when the quartet of Antone Jackson, Cadarious Mayberry, Montel Anthony Nord and Anthony Rollins-Mullens gyrate onstage, oozing sweet music and charm. Their versions of “Keep on Rollin’” and “Searchin’” convince the audience that there are more pleasures ahead. This foursome could be the entire show, and it would still be worth the price of admission. Suddenly, two femme fatales of the cast, Cheyenne Wells and Janelle LaSalle, slither out in tight, hot, red and black outfits to belt the sultry hit “Trouble.” Both Wells, looking a far cry from her Ariel role in “The Little Mermaid,” and LaSalle have other showstopper numbers in Act 2.
Wells shimmies like you’ve never seen anyone shimmy before in the number “Teach Me How to Shimmy” with great backup from acrobatic, smooth-dancing Chris Aceves as well as Jackson and Mayberry, LaSalle shows her sizzling, sassy side in both “You’re the Boss” (with a hilarious Rollins-Mullens) and “Some Cats Know.”, Wells brown leather ballet flats and LaSalle team up with the two other excellent female singers, Jessica Coker and Majesty Scott to bring the house down with their version of “I’m a Woman,” and Coker does a fine job with her solos, “Saved” and “Fools Fall in Love.”..
Act 2 starts with a roar as Kana’s piano is brought out front, and he sings “Stay a While,” in a duet with Nord. Kana plays the devil out of the piano on “Baby, That is Rock & Roll,” “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown” with the entire company. Mayberry is simply hilarious in his turn as a drunkard in “D.W. Washburn,” and Rollins-Mullens gets his moment in the sun in “Little Egypt.”. The male quartet returns for several more dynamite songs, including “On Broadway,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Love Potion No. 9.”.
This all may sound repetitious, but the infectious personalities of the performers — topped off with great singing voices and Camille Edralin’s dynamic choreography — just keep the songs rolling along, All the talent on stage is matched by the creative team here, In addition to Jackson, Kana, Edralin and Tighe, Leandra Watson adds so much sparkle and color with her many costumes, Aaron Spivey’s lighting is exciting and vibrant, brown leather ballet flats and Jon Hayward’s sound makes nearly every sung word understandable..