The Duluth Playhouse opens new season

The Duluth Playhouse will present Leiber and Stoller’s hit musical revue Smokey Joe’s Cafe at the NorShor Theatre on September 19-29. The production is directed by returning guest director Michael Matthew Ferrell.

“This music is some of the best of all time, and I have had this idea to reimagine it,” said Ferrell, when asked about his vision for the show. “I am taking a fresh approach to the show, including adding dancers, to help bring these great songs to life. If you love the music of Leiber & Stoller, you have to see it come to life.”

Smokey Joe’s Cafe is a rock & roll, rhythm, and blues revue featuring all the best hits of Leiber and Stoller. This powerhouse musical will showcase 30 songs, including songs made famous by the like of The Coasters, Elvis Presley, and The Drifters. Smokey Joe’s Cafe was nominated for seven Tony Awards and was the longest-running musical revue on Broadway.

Unlike a typical musical, Smokey Joe’s Café is classified as a musical revue and is presented in a revue format with a theme rather than a storyline: love. There are novelty songs, romantic ballads, and infectious melodies, and all of them explore loves lost, loves found, and the search for love in between. Each song is sung by members of the cast in various combinations, and there’s largely little to no dialogue in between musical numbers.

“Michael Ferrell is the best of the best for musicals with high-energy dancing,” said Christine Gradl Seitz, Executive and Artistic Director of the Playhouse. “His imagination and direction are always top-notch, and I can’t wait to see what’s up his sleeve for this show.”

Tickets are on sale now for this blast-to-the-past musical online at,, by phone at 218.733.7555, or stopping by the NorShor Theatre Box Office at 211 E. Superior St., in downtown Duluth.

Skip to toolbar