Scotty Jeffers, a talented and popular Valley actor and musician who'd graced our stages continuously ever since his Washington High School days, died suddenly Saturday night, October 31, at the age of 38, from what friends were told was cardiac arrest triggered by a pulmonary embolism. He had just completed a performance of Childsplay's Androcles and the Lion and was recently featured in Talk Radio at Chyro's Voice Theatre. (Because I never got to know Jeffers well, my strongest memory of his unique and engaging talents remains his 2004 performance of original music for Stray Cat Theatre's Poona the Fuckdog, brandishing a guitar while dressed as a giant penis.)
The performing arts community in which Jeffers had so many longtime friends and colleagues has banded together in their shock and grief to both mourn and celebrate a great guy. We ♥ Scotty Jeffers, a Facebook group with more than 350 members and growing, is all abuzz with info on upcoming events, which began this evening with an informal karaoke party at the Bunkhouse, 4428 North 7th Avenue. All tip money was donated to Jeffers' family to help with medical, travel, and other expenses in these unexpected circumstances. You can also make a donation via PayPal or Google Checkout at a link on Stray Cat's site.
A car wash this Sunday, November 8, at a location still to be determined, will also benefit Jeffers' survivors. And a memorial service begins at 10 a.m. on November 14 (a week from Saturday) at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, followed by a BBQ picnic at Tempe Beach Park that afternoon.
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We ♥ Scotty Jeffers is also a virtual wake/shrine/retrospective, packed with photos, videos, anecdotes, and fond memories. In a week filled with international hard news, Jeffers' passing remains the hardest thing for many, and they're drawing strength and inspiration from one another.
Meanwhile, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa is in the middle of the run of a really sharp, entertaining production of Smokey Joe's Cafe, a blessedly plotless revue that consists entirely of heartfelt singing and dance numbers set to the pop, rock, and R&B works of songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller ("Love Potion #9," "Young Blood," "Poison Ivy," "Fools Fall in Love," "Spanish Harlem," "Hound Dog," "Yakety Yak," "Stand by Me," and a bunch of other great numbers you might not be so familiar with).
The set is hideously ugly but fairly unobtrusive once the cast and the band get going, with much credit going to Ron Hutchins' direction and choreography. Everybody's full of energy, sporting top-notch pipes, legs, and sincere engagement with the crowd. Standouts include Shavey Brown, an alluring, virtuoso dancer, and Anita Welch, who really steams up the joint with her rendition of "Don Juan," a song in which she demonstrates clearly what a particular gentleman might be giving up if he isn't forthcoming with the tributes that keep her in the style to which she's become accustomed.
Smokey Joe's Cafe continues through Saturday, November 21, at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa. Tickets are $22 (for children 12 and younger) to $45 and include a dinner and dessert buffet and non-alcoholic beverages. Order here or call 490-325-6700.