Smokey Jane's Cafe: A Review

By: Shayna Darling  |  March 17, 2014

IMG_5575At 8:30 PM on the dot, a line amassed outside the doors of Koch Auditorium. It was time yet again for Stern College’s annual Smokey Jane’s Café. Modeled after a jazz bar circa the 1920’s, Smokey Jane’s definitely succeeded on this count. The lights were dim save for a spotlight that shone on the Stern women who took the stage and belted out tunes. Jazzy melodies rang through the air and went on to ensure the success of the evening, while audience members laughed and chattered throughout the show.

When the doors opened, a stream of girls steadily flowed into the room, their excitement palpable in the air. Many made their way over to the mocktail bar, where I sat surrounded by Sprite and maraschino cherries. As drinks were poured, the first performer, Sarah Alt, took the stage. She’s more commonly known as the president of the Torah Activities Council, but Alt’s performance of “Love You I Do” from the musical Dreamgirls proved that she is a woman of many talents.  Alt said of the experience, “Performing at Smokey Jane’s was a great opportunity for me to connect to the community at Stern in a way that is totally different than I usually do. I loved having the chance to share a piece of myself with others, feel their support, and enjoy the amazing talent in the student body all at the same time.

Her jazzy ensemble soon came to a finish, and other girls carried on the night with a variety of performances. Although every girl’s performance was valuable in its own way, some particularly stood out. Orly Gabay’s rendition of “All That Jazz” from Chicago was accompanied by a generous amount of enthusiasm and livened up the atmosphere. Zahava Taylor, who sang “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” from the Phantom of the Opera, blew the audience away with her operatic abilities. Esther Tsvaygenbaum’s first performance at Smokey Jane’s, “Listen,” from Dreamgirls, was a powerful and moving solo. Another highlight was the fun and energetic performance of “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray by Malka Katz, Sarah Katz, and Dana Weinstein. Clad in similarly bright outfits and majorly teased hair, the trio cheerfully sang out the lyrics.

Many would agree that the centerpiece of the evening was Malka Sigal’s “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King. The performance was engaging, and thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. No one was expecting the moment when she effortlessly let down her hair to reveal a lion’s mane that she excitedly shook out, prompting loud laughter from the audience.

By the end of the evening while I sat at the mocktail table with corn syrup coating my hands, Mazal Tov Amsalam’s performance of “Falling Slowly” from the musical Once wound down the excitement. Despite ranging the gamut from somber to hilarious, the night’s performances blended together effortlessly to create a laid back and talent-filled evening. Smokey Jane’s has been a mainstay of Stern throughout the years, and the evening made clear exactly why this is so.