Music, Puppetry, and Self-Help Warm Up Audiences at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret


The tinkle of ice as bartenders create cocktails while Cole Porter’s music plays over the sound system soon make the snow and cold of another Chicago winter a distant memory as people entered the doors of Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret.  The occasion was the return of singer, actor, comedian, and writer, Jackie Smook, and her pianist, Joey Chimes, for a six-month engagement of The Jackie Smook Program of De-Dumbification.  Drink orders are placed (“a Bombay gin martini, please…shaken hard, not stirred”) as audience members and performers alike look forward to a night of live music, puppetry, and self-help.

Smook and Chimes take the audience on a magical, puppet-filled, comedic (yet moving) ride into the Jackie Smook self-help cabaret.  It’s a roller coaster through her personal journey from a “dingy dongy dumb dumb” to the hard-working, go getting, ambitious woman she is today.  Told through four stages and 12 musical acts, audiences will be moved by this true story of growth and self-love. 

Singer, Actor, Comedian, and Writer Jackie Smook with one of her CoStars
Photo by Marie Renaud

“I am excited to not only return to Davenport’s but also to share my story musically,” says Smook.  “This opportunity to have a monthly performance will let Joey, the puppets, and me work on new pieces and new themes with new audiences.  We appreciate all of this and look forward to the new year, this monthly engagement, and being on the Davenport’s stage again, live.”

Smook and Chimes deliver, sharing a series of original and cover songs mixed with humor.  One of Smook’s pandemic discoveries was puppet-making.  Throughout the show, she uses her creations to represent key influencers in her journey from carefree, albeit rudderless, middle schooler to focused, hard-working creative.

Performing in the intimate setting of a cabaret show without the shield of a scripted character is something many performers shy away from.  Smook, however, appears to relish the challenge.  Her improv training shows as she easily adlibs to an audience member’s reaction.  Smook stages props throughout the audience and then asks permission from audience members to “borrow” the shoes or bag she placed earlier under your chair to upgrade her onstage outfit prior to her audition.  By incorporating individual audience members, she makes the stage seem even more intimate, pulling the audience closer into what’s happening on stage.  You feel like you’re sharing drinks, songs, and stories in Smook’s living room, with the puppets, of course.


Jackie Smook Performing at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret
Photo by Jenny Baumgartner

Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret is Chicago’s premiere location for enjoying music in an intimate setting.  The Jackie Smook Program of De-Dumbification will continue with monthly performances, January through June at Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 North Milwaukee Avenue, in Chicago.  For show dates and tickets, please visit  All patrons must show proof of vaccination.  Masks will be required upon entry and when not seated.


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