Come out and join HSRT for a journey through rock and roll history. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller graced the charts with their unforgettable music and lyrics, and now you can hear nearly 40 of their hits all together in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a musical revue that illuminates the golden age of American culture.

Featuring hit songs like “Charlie Brown,” “There Goes My Baby,” “Yakety Yak,” “Fools Fall In Love,” “Love Potion #9,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Stand By Me,” and “Jailhouse Rock,” “Smokey Joe’s” incorporates no dialogue and no conventional storyline. This is a show you won’t want to miss. Performances run July 10, 11, 15, 17, 21, 23, 30, Aug 1, 3, 5, and 7, all at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Main Theatre.

Stage Manager Jordan Kruis is thrilled to be working on this production. “I get to dance along in my chair as we work through numbers like ‘Baby That Is Rock and Roll’ and listen to incredibly moving songs like ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ go from the first rehearsal to performance quality.”

Scenic Designer Tyler Perry wanted to give the set an “urban” and “nostalgic” feeling for the actors and audience members. The set is “designed like New York City fire escapes, subway systems, and an amalgamation of urban textures. Some of the key inspiration was 1950's and 60's Harlem neighborhoods, which is where the music of the play has its roots. The characters are returning to a place that is nostalgic to them, where they feel welcome. It was important to me that we get a sense of the city and a feeling of home within it.”

Director Fred Tessler returns for his 22nd season with HSRT. He has been involved with over 40 productions with the company, including last summer’s hit classic “The Sound of Music.” A resident of New York City, Tessler is on the faculty at Wagner College, where he has been Director and Music Director of over a dozen shows. He has also worked with many theatres around New York City and elsewhere.

Choreographer Joe Niesen is here for his second summer with HSRT. He hails from Las Vegas, where he works as a freelance choreographer. Niesen is a graduate of the San Francisco School of Ballet, and has danced with BalleTacoma and Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. He has also worked for Caesar’s and Park Place Entertainment.

Niesen says the choreography for this show is “sort of a mix of traditional Broadway revue and a healthy dose of Motown and Stax...This is a personality-driven show, so I tried to find a way to showcase each individual's strengths.” He hopes that his choreography will help the actors tell “a series of sweet, hot, soulful vignettes that string together in an arc of memories, relationships, dreams, loss, and reunion.”

The ensemble of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” includes Chip DuFord (AEA), Skye Edwards, Danielle Lee James, Shannon McEldowney, Anna ModicBradley, Simeon Rawls, Trequon Tate, Sierra White (AEA), and Paul Williams.

The production team for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” includes Tyler Perry as the scenic designer, Stephen Sakowski as the lighting designer, Jason Resler as the costume designer, Amanda Werre as the sound designer, Jordan Kruis as the Stage Manager, Richard Perez as the Managing Director, and Rachael Hasse as the Production Manager.

Individual tickets are now on sale at the college’s downtown ticket office, located in the Anderson-Werkman Building at 100 E. 8th St., which is open Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are also available at the DeWitt Ticket Office (141 E. 12th St.), which is open Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon through intermission. Adult tickets are $30 for Mezzanine or Balcony and $25 for Orchestra seating. Senior, faculty, and staff tickets are $28 for Mezzanine or Balcony and $22 for Orchestra seating. Student tickets are $15 for all seating. Patrons can also purchase individual tickets online by visiting or calling (616) 395-7890.

Ticket options also include the Season Ticket Package, which saves patrons up to 30% off individual ticket prices and guarantees a terrific seat for every performance. Season Ticket Packages are available at both ticket locations. The Best Buy Package offers seating for four main-stage performances for only $75 for adults, $70 for seniors, and $40 for students. The Super-Saver Package includes seating limited to the orchestra and admission to the four main-stage productions for $60 for both adults and seniors, and $40 for students.

If you want to stay connected this summer, make sure to sign up for the HSRT E-Newsletter on our website. Subscribers will receive behind-the-scenes videos, interviews, photos, articles, and insights about this season’s productions. Also, join us at Barnes and Noble July 10 - 19 for in store performances and readings of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Junie B. Jones: The Musical,” and “Jingle ARRGH The Way!” 

More information is available online at and