Legendary pop singer Ben E. King joins the Broadway cast of the hit Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller revue Smokey Joe's Cafe for one week, June 23-28. King began his career in the '50s, becoming lead singer of the vocal group The Drifters before going solo in 1960. He is one of the original interpreters of Leiber and Stoller's material, including "There Goes My Baby" (with The Drifters), "I (Who Have Nothing)," "Stand by Me" and "Spanish Harlem." King will perform the latter three songs in the show.
Smokey turned three on March 2, at its home, the Virginia Theatre on West 52nd St. Jerry Zaks directed this revue, which opened to mixed notices from critics. The show quickly became an audience favorite, and its continued success is a textbook example of the power of word-of mouth.
Joey McKneely designed choreography for the nine-person ensemble cast. DeLee Lively, Brenda Braxton and Pattie Darcy Jones, of the original cast, are still in the show. D'Atra Hicks has taken over for B.J. Crosby (now on tour in Dreamgirls). Originals Ken Ard, Adrian Bailey and Frederick B. Owens are still with the show, joined by James Beeks and Jerry Tellier. Some of the Leiber & Stoller songs featured are: "Kansas City," "Searchin'," "On Broadway," "I'm A Woman," "Poison Ivy," "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog."
For more information on Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Virginia Theatre call (212) 239-6200 or check out their website at http:\\smokeyjoescafe.com.
-- By Robert Simonson