Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

May 15, 2014

'Smoke' still a Playhouse favorite

CROSSVILLE — The ever-popular "Smoke on the Mountain" returns to Tennessee’s Family Theater on May 30. Now in its 21st consecutive year at Cumberland County Playhouse, "Smoke" continues to play to sold-out crowds and delight audiences again and again.

“The publisher, Samuel French, Inc. — the oldest and largest publisher for plays and musicals in the world — tells us it’s the most popular show they license,” says director Weslie Webster. French also verifies that the Playhouse has done more performances of this bluegrass/gospel musical comedy than any other theater, anywhere. “Our company has made 'Smoke on the Mountain' a Playhouse tradition with its longest run anywhere,” notes Playhouse Producer and CEO Jim Crabtree. 

The year is 1938. It's Saturday night in Mount Pleasant, NC, and the Reverend Oglethorpe has invited the Sanders Family Singers to provide an uplifting evening of song. The audience becomes the congregation as two dozen traditional and original hymns weave together with stories of witness from family members, along with a healthy dose of laughter. Though the Sanders Family try to appear perfect in the eyes of a critical congregation who are skeptical about the whole notion of a “Saturday Night Sing,” one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true — and hilariously imperfect — natures. The honesty, humor (sometimes unintentional!) and faith of this Southern mountain family and the church’s new preacher connect strongly with audiences of all ages and faiths, who find themselves part of a very special afternoon or evening. 

Leading off this year’s cast are Playhouse favorites Patty Payne as June Sanders and Jason Ross as Mervin Oglethorpe; between the two of them, they’ve performed in nearly 1,000 performances of "Smoke" since the show opened the Adventure Theater in 1993! The cast also includes Lauren Marshall, who does double duty as Vera Sanders and the show’s music director, along with Daniel Black and Bobby Taylor, who’ll share the role of Burl Sanders. Austin Price returns to the cast, this time as Uncle Stanley, as does Malachi Banegas as son Dennis. Newcomer Elizabeth Wyld will appear as Dennis’s twin sister Denise.

Whether folks are seeing it for the first time or the 20th, it’s is a true audience favorite. "Smoke on the Mountain" opens May 30 and runs through August 8. Call 931-484-5000 for tickets and information or visit www.ccplayhouse.com. It’s rated G (except for “one word that ought not to be used in church”) and is sponsored by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, as it has been from the beginning. 

Also at the Playhouse, "The Diary of Anne Frank" (rated G, sponsored by Life Care Center of Crossville) runs through May 22, "Annie Get Your Gun" starring Kellye Cash (rated G, sponsored by Plateau Pediatrics; firearms sponsor is Tabor's Pawn Shop) runs through July 11, and "American Icon," presented by the Playhouse Performance Education Department and sponsored by Keith and Carol Pontius, runs May 22-24. Tickets and information are also available for Southern Stars Symphonic Brass and other events. All CCP productions are made possible through sponsor support, with additional support provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Things To Do
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    They're gearing up for a very exciting week both at the Cumberland County Playhouse and at the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton!

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    The Performing Arts Alliance of Rural Tennessee (PAART) is pleased to announce the first event in it’s 2014-15 season: the Lexington Vintage Dance Society will perform "Downton Abbey Era: The Titanic to the Jazz Age" in period costumes. This performance will take place Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre in Crossville.

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