Samaha presents ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ in Bay Ridge
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
You’ve heard of Shakespeare in the Park. But how about Smokey Joe in Owl’s Head?
Bay Ridge music impresario Jeff Samaha and his production company are bringing the Broadway musical revue “Smokey Joe’s Café” to Owl’s Head Park for a one-performance special event on Sunday, June 22, at 4 p.m.
And it’s free!
The show, which is being presented by Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale, is supported by a grant from Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. Owl’s Head Park is located on Colonial Road and 68th Street.
Featuring the music of the immortal songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog,” “Stand by Me,” and “Jailhouse Rock,” among other hits), “Smokey Joe’s Café” will kick-off the summer season in Bay Ridge.
The show will be performed with a live band.
Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale has been a cultural institution in Bay Ridge since 1968. The company mounted a much-acclaimed production of “Les Miserables” last year with a cast of 60 and a full orchestra.
Samaha said the show in the park is being done out of gratitude. “We wanted to do something to show how much we appreciate the people of Bay Ridge, especially after the tremendous support we received for our production of ‘Les Miserables’ last year! We have been entertaining the community for 47 years, so I can think of no better way than to entertain them again with a fabulous Broadway show – for free!” he wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle.
Karen Tadross, executive producer of Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale, said the company is eager to give back to the community. “Some of grant money we received from Councilman Vincent Gentile and the Department of Youth and Community Development will be applied to this performance. We cannot do what we love to do without that support, so I guess you could say we are just paying it forward!” she told the Eagle.
The company’s singers and orchestra have performed in concerts throughout the community and have presented some of Broadway’s most challenging productions including “Children of Eden,” “Ragtime,” “Miss Saigon,” “West Side Story,” “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Producers” and “Seussical the Musical.” Samaha and his company have entertained at numerous Third and Fifth Avenue festivals, at summer concert series sponsored by state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) and former councilman Domenic Recchia, and at many charity events.
“Smokey Joe’s Café” opened on Broadway on March 2, 1995, according to Internet Broadway Data Base, which reported that the show closed on Jan. 16, 2000 after a run of nearly five years. It holds the record as the longest running musical revue in Broadway history.
Fans who come to Owl’s Head Park on June 22 will also get to taste some of the best food Bay Ridge has to offer.
There will a great selection of summer foods and treats for purchase from eateries like Lock Yard, Kettle Black, Pig Guy NYC and Robicelli's Bakery.
Tommy Casatelli and Thomas Joseph Perone, two of Bay Ridge's hottest food gurus, will be cooking up some tastes of summer including hot dogs, wings, pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese and other great dishes. Matt and Allison Robicelli of Robicelli's Bakery will be on hand to offer some of their famous desserts like whoopie pies and cupcakes.
For more information, call Gentile’s office at 718-748-5200.