Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

June 21, 2012

REVIEW: Smoke on the Mountain makes for a delightful evening once again

CROSSVILLE — What a joy to spend some time with the Sanders family. “Smoke on the Mountain” has returned once again to the Adventure Theater of the Cumberland County Playhouse. This delightful musical has been the signature piece of the Playhouse for many years. It is constantly “tweaked.” The minor additions of body movement and interaction between the actors means that it feels ever new to those of us who have seen it countless times.    

At the show’s beginning, Jason Ross, as Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe, is clearly stalling. His hair slicked down with the ever-present comb, a bit of piano playing, words of encouragement to congregation members who question this musical event in the church all contribute to the feeling of expectation. Still we wait. Ross is a master of the art of the unspoken word. He communicates his tension to his audience. The stained glass window and that wonderful addition, the electric light bulb, aid us in knowing that we are in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. It is June of 1938. We are assured that the church is moving right on into the future.

No matter how many times I have seen the show, I heave a sigh of relief when June Sanders, in the person of the versatile Patty Payne, dashes into the theater.

This non-singing member of the Sanders Family Singers has been sent ahead to report an accident. Their bus has turned over. All the family members had shifted to the same side of the bus to watch those baby gherkin escapees from the Pleasant Pickle factory floating down the street. The bus just turned right on over. With that sort of problem at the beginning, we know hilarity is to follow.

Daniel Black both directs the show and plays Burl Sanders, clearly the head of the household. Associate director and music director Lauren Marshall returns as Vera Sanders. She is the mother, attempting to be a stabilizing influence on the clan. Austin Price and Emily Woods play their twin children Dennis and Denise Sanders.

The family has only recently been able to embrace Stanley Sanders, the brother of Burl, as a part of the performing clan. Tommy Hancock is back playing the role of that tough yet gentle man. June, Patty Payne, the sister of Burl and Stanley, is clearly the old maid aunt who makes her home with Burl and Vera.

Payne is at her best as she throws her whole body into sign language in case there happens to be someone present who is deaf. Her musical additions on the tambourine, cymbals and seed filled jar are done with gusto. Payne has played June with countless other cast members. Yet she continues to add newness to the role.

Early on, Austin Price projects a shy, somewhat withdrawn young Bible student. However, Price allows Dennis to develop from the frightened kid whose Mama wrote his sermonette to the able lead vocalist on “I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap.”

Vera, ably played by Lauren Marshall, delights in besting Oglethorpe with her biblical knowledge. Her tale of the “June Bug” seemed to me to be the funniest yet.

Marshall is a talented violinist and vocalist. Her staging of the 28 songs in the show is remarkable. The cast switches instruments among the bass, the guitar, piano, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and accordion to say nothing of the train whistle, bells and cymbals that Payne adds.

Ross is a master of wordlessly rapt attention. He makes no response to the loud noise while listening to Daniel Black, as Burl, tell of his encounter with the beer salesman.          

Hancock is very convincing as the angry ex-convict who is trying to control the anger that is always close to the surface. He has had a tough life. He feels he has let his family down. He has learned some unexpected lessons on love from his fellow prisoners.

He is unsure of himself in the church setting. He is hesitant to trust Oglethorpe. Yet, he is working hard to rejoin society and his family. I felt great empathy for Stanley as Hancock played him. Personally, I was disappointed by the laughter that followed the revelation that he had been in prison. But it is not my role to “review” the audience.  

Emily Woods’ lovely voice blends well with the rest of the cast. She and Price are especially delightful as they add considerable action to “Christian Cowboy,” trusting that Jesus would like a little swing added to life.

Children in the audience were clearly having a great time. The audience joined in foot tapping, clapping, and, when encouraged, singing. It was once again, a delightful evening as the Sanders family brought their music to Mount Pleasant and to us. 

1
Text Only
Things To Do
  • Tolich024.jpg CCP to interpret ‘Anne Frank’ for the deaf

    On Thursday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m., Cumberland County Playhouse will present a special performance of "The Diary of Anne Frank" that will be interpreted for the deaf and hearing impaired.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Free movies to be shown at Rocky Top 10

    The Cumberland County Film Society and the Rocky Top 10 movie theater invite the public to join them for two free movies, one in April and one in May

    April 17, 2014

  • Swing Street Band in concert May 1

    The 18-member Swing Street Big Band welcomes summer in Fairfield Glade with the third concert and dance of its 2014 season at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 1.

    April 17, 2014

  • love that country music.jpg Palace welcomes Terry King April 12

    Once more, the historical Palace Theatre brings to the stage Terry King with his melodious steel guitar on April 12 at 7 p.m.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community chorus sets dates for spring concerts

    Spring has arrived on the Cumberland Plateau. Preparations for the annual spring concerts of the Cumberland County Community Chorus are in full bloom under the direction of Marty Gibson with Ann Looney accompanying.

    April 10, 2014

  • REVIEW: ‘Diary’ celebrates Anne Frank’s life

    Entering the Adventure Theater, the audience finds a two-story house with rooms on both levels. An attic area at one end can be shut off from the rest of the house. The audience already knows the story.

    April 3, 2014

  • Curtain Call Dinner Theatre to present ‘Funeral for a Gangster’

    The Curtain Call Dinner Theatre is inviting you to travel back with them as they take a step back in time to 1928 and join the Mob sendoff which is about to take place for the late Vito "The Gut" Marzetti, who was gunned down in a gangland slaying.

    April 3, 2014

  • Michael Ching composer conductor (2).jpg Music is in the air at Uplands

    Music’s in the air this month at Uplands Village, and the grand finale is not to be missed.

    March 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Swing Street Big Band welcomes spring April 3

    The 18-member Swing Street Big Band welcomes spring with the second dance of its 2014 Fairfield Glade schedule at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 3.

    March 20, 2014

  • Curtain Call Players give tribute to the best of country legends

    Do you remember the lyrics from the Judds' song "Grandpa, Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days." They go something like this, "Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days. Sometimes it feels like this world's gone crazy. Grandpa, take me back to yesterday when the line between right and wrong didn't seem so hazy."

    March 13, 2014

AP and the Gulf Oil Spill
AP Video
Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide