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‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ eliminates dialogue

Judith Johnson finally got her wish.

After seeing the “deliciously wonderful” musical “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” several years ago, the Frost Fire owner had always wanted it to be the performance put on by the Frost Fire Summer Theatre.

This year, Johnson got what she wanted. Frost Fire is in the midst of its 30th season of providing summer entertainment to the people of Walhalla, N.D.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” features the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Their classic songs include “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog,” “Love Potion No. 9” and “Kansas City.” It is a unique musical, in that there is no dialogue in between the nearly 40 songs performed.

The musical opened at Frost Fire on July 2 and continues through July 30. Performances take place every Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and every Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Frost Fire Theater, seven miles west of Walhalla on County Road 55. Tickets to the show are $28 for adults and $12 for children.

“It’s a fast moving, high-energy, fun two hours that the whole family can enjoy,” Director Darrin Kerr said.

Kerr is an assistant professor of humanities and integrated studies at UND and has directed and been involved in Frost Fire productions in the past. He said he jumped at the opportunity to direct this musical.

Kerr said the musical has provided a challenge for him as a director. With no dialogue, the story is broken up into pieces instead of being one cohesive story.

“It’s about finding out what the story is that we’re going to tell over the course of those three minutes. So instead of doing one overarching story, we’re doing 35 mini stories.”

Call Rupard at (701) 780-1122; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1122; or send email to

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

(701) 780-1122