Columbus man directs New Stage’s ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’

May 22, 2009



A production of "Smokey Joe''s Cafe" May 26-June 7 by Jackson''s New Stage Theatre will have a strong Columbus connection.  


William "Peppy" Biddy, professor and chair of the Department of Music and Theatre at Mississippi University for Women, is once again directing the company''s summer presentation.  


"The cast we have assembled is fantastic," said Biddy. "It will be well worth the drive to Jackson to hear this group of singers."  


The greatest hits of the ''50s and ''60s are all on the menu at "Smokey Joe''s Cafe," Broadway''s longest-running musical revue and "a rockin'' party of a show that will have your hands clappin'' and toes tappin''."  


"Jail House Rock," "Stand By Me," "Yakety Yak," "Hound Dog" and more are the electrifying creations of legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the Rodgers and Hammerstein of rock ''n'' roll.  




Times and tickets 


Preview night is Tuesday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Jane Reid Petty Theatre Center, 1100 Carlisle St., in the Belhaven neighborhood. Curtain times and dates for all other performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays. 


Ticket are $22, with discounts available for students, seniors and groups. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, located inside the Theatre Center, charged by phone by calling the theatre at 601-948-3531, or ordered online at 


"New Stage Theatre''s production of ''Smokey Joe''s Cafe'' is a rock and roll musical feast for our audience," said Artistic Director Francine Thomas Reynolds. "In the 1950s, Leiber and Stoller changed popular music forever; they found the sweet spot between smooth pop and raw blues and were among the first songwriters to produce their own songs." 


Biddy said, "Anyone who has ever listened to rock ''n'' roll, whether it was growing up in the ''50s and ''60s, or currently tuning in to an oldies station, will recognize most of the tunes in this show." 


The cast includes Christopher Deaton, of Keller, Texas; Naima Carter Russell, of Decatur, Ga.; Jay Thompson, of Edwards; Michael Fisher, of Greensboro, N.C.; Donald Jones Jr., of Natchitoches, La.; Charles Orr, of Flowood; Molly Tremonte, of Clinton; Rebecca Russell, of Natchitoches, La.; and Sharon Miles, of Hattiesburg. 


The Smokey Joe''s Café band features Bud Berthold, of Raymond, on the drums, Sherman Lee Dillon, of Jackson, on guitar, Andrew Dillon, Jackson, on bass and Mike Hampton, Clinton, on the saxophone. 


The production is sponsored by the Gertrude Ford Foundation.