Pop singer Gladys Knight will end her second engagement in Broadway's Smokey Joe's Cafe of Aug. 29. Knight, who began her stay Aug. 17, first appeared in the show May 11-22, 1999.
Knight led the pop vocal group "the Pips" throughout the '60s and '70s, scoring such hits as "Midnight Train to Georgia," "Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Use My Imagination" and "You're the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me."
Jerry Zaks directed the revue, which opened March 2, 1995, and became the longest running musical revue in Broadway history June 2 with 1,775 performances. Joey McKneely designed choreography for the nine-person ensemble cast.
In recent months, Smokey Joe -- The Songs of Leiber and Stoller has played host to a steady stream of unlikely Broadway stars, harking back to the days when Barry and Fran Weissler's revival of Grease! gave the likes of Brooke Shields and Joe Piscopo their Broadway debuts. Such disparate artists as Ben E. King, Lou Rawls, Pam Tillis, Gloria Gaynor and Tony Orlando have entered the long-running musical.
Perhaps the most surprising -- nay, shocking -- of the upcoming guests is hard rocker Joan Jett, whose anthems "I Love Rock and Roll" and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" seem far removed from the work of Leiber and Stoller and the world of the Broadway revue. Jett's dates are yet to be determined. Also expected, Oct. 19-31, is 80s teen heartthrob Rick Springfield, who parlayed a career as a soap star of "General Hospital" into a string of pop hits, most notably "Jesse's Girl."
Smokey Joe's Cafe played its 1,775th performance at the Virginia Theatre June 2, becoming the longest running musical revue in Broadway history. The previous record holder was Bob Fosse's Dancin' with 1,774 performances.
Some of the Leiber & Stoller songs featured are: "Kansas City," "Fools Fall in Love'," "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://www.smokeyjoescafe.com .
-- By Robert Simonson