Shimmying across town, "Smokey Joe's Cafe" is back, this time at the Wilshire Theatre, with a July stop planned for Orange County Performing Arts Center.
The cast is different than at the Doolittle Theatre in 1994, but the effects are largely the same. This nostalgic revue of pop hits by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (and assorted collaborators) begins ultra lite, with songs breezing by according to no apparent pattern, then gradually solidifies around slightly more difficult emotions by show's end.
Still, there's no need to bring a hankie. A fragment of the potentially unsettling "Riot in Cell Block 9," which was heard at the Doolittle, is missing, so the show is even more frivolous than ever.
Some of these songs seem to belong on a radio instead of a stage, but Jerry Zaks' staging and Joey McKneely's choreography make a strong case to the contrary. The touring cast shines in the big moments but occasionally looks a bit perfunctory.