While their names, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, may not be immediately recognizable– their music has remained a mainstay of American pop music for over half a century.
Penning such songs as “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Love Potion No. 9,” and countless others, the men behind these hits were also the inspiration for The Little Theatre on the Square’s next production: Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
Meeting as teenagers in LA in the early 1950’s, the young duo set out to craft a new sound– infusing the soulfulness of the emerging rhythm and blues movement with high production values and a theatricality that sprung from their own youth fueled desire to entertain. What came from their collaboration was a decades long career that would set off years of musical innovation and shape a generation of music listeners.
Conceived in 1995 as a revue of Leiber and Stoller’s biggest hits, Smokey Joe’s Cafe brings together nine incredibly talented performers as they weave a story that transcends speech. Utilizing only the music created Lieber and Stoller, and no dialogue, the show may appear to have no story, but one need only open their ears to hear the story crafted so delicately by each song. From heartache to laughter, Smokey Joe’s Cafe touches upon every emotional milestone of the human experience by journey’s end.
Smokey Joe’s Cafe opens on June 23rd and runs through July 4th. Tickets on sale now, call (217) 728-7375 to reserve your spot today!
Below Leiber and Stoller discuss Smokey Joe’s Cafe on an episode of Good Morning America:
and some vintage footage of the duo appearing on What’s my Line?