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Smokey Joe's Café takes Okinawa by storm

Date Posted: 1998-04-12

If you remember hula hoops, poodle skirts and saddle oxfords you and yours will definitely remember the songs of Liberia and Stroller synonymous with songs of the fifties. The Grammy Award-winning musical Smokey Joe's Café recently took Okinawa by storm with songs written by the duo of Leiber and Stroller that included Yakety Yak, Jailhouse Rock, Stand by Me, Hound Dog and I'm a Woman. This crowd pleaser had baby boomers both Japanese and Americans clapping in their seats.

The scene is set in the blue light diner district of Broadway where the cast delights audiences with their renditions of popular songs from days of the 45 record.

The strong Operatic voice of Stephone Smith had me hanging on the edge of my seat every time he appeared on stage. He has the kind of voice that you feel as well as hear. The orchestra that accompanies the cast is awesome. The music may not be the original but the feeling is the same. The cast is energetic and moves the audience to participate and feel the music.

While the language barrier for the Japanese audience was a concern initially, the audience responded enthusiastically to the songs and skits. Cast member Alltrinna Grayson said it best when she said, "Music is a universal language." Cast members Bobby Daye, Rachelle Rak and Reva Rice agreed with Ms. Grayson and added that they have played all over the world but was completely awed at the heartfelt kindness and generosity of the Okinawan people.

They are enjoying the beautiful beaches of scenery of Okinawa and joked that it seems that the plane bringing them to Okinawa flew around Florida for thirteen hours only to land back in Miami. The weather and humidity reminded them of Miami.

When asked what they miss about being home I expected them to say American food but I was surprised to find that they are enjoying the Okinawan cuisine and even had a taste of Awamori.

The cast has played around the world together in Broadway musicals that include Cats, The Wiz, Dream Girls, La Cage aux Folles, Jesus Christ Superstar. Tap Dance Kid, Mama I Want to Sing, Five Guys Named Moe, Westside Story, and Starlight Express.

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