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BWW Review: SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN Raises the Roof

Central Alabama Theatre has a new home, at Steeple Arts Academy in the Crestline Village area of Mountain Brook. The space actually helped to inspire the first show there- SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN. With its church pews and the pitched ceiling, the building actually becomes part of the pretty, well built set.

Directed by Norton Dill, veteran director and performer, SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN is the perfect beginning for CAT in that area of town. Performed on opening night to a full house, you could feel the excitement in the air as many performers and friends filled the theatre.

Dill Picker members Scott Stewart as Pastor Oglethorpe and Theresa McKibben as Vera join Norton Dill, who also plays Burl as well as directing, on stage. This core group has performed together across the region in their band as well as doing SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN together many times before. Each actor brings a humor and a realness to these characters that could turn into caricatures easily, but not in the experienced hands of these artists.

Another point of note about these three, as well as most of the other cast members, is their exceptional musicianship. Switching instruments constantly as well as singing throughout the show, their versatility is astounding.

Ken Coe as Stanley adds a little gruffness to the ensemble. Joshua Green and Kellie Dodd portray twins Dennis and Denise. All three are very gifted musically and blend into the group perfectly.

I have to be honest though and say that I found myself mostly watching Kristen Sharpe as June. As one of the area's most gifted singers, I was very puzzled that Ms. Sharpe would end up with the only part that does not sing. But when I saw her as the often ignored family member who tries to sign the music in order to fit in and find her place in the family, I was so happy that she had the opportunity to show this side of her abilities.

Kristen Sharpe is funny- who knew? Her facial expressions, her timing, her array of percussive instruments (washboards to a jar of beans, tambourine to the triangle and more) and even her body language are some of the funniest things I have seen. I also have to mention again that these parts can easily become caricatures, but Ms. Sharpe got nowhere near that trap. You can see her sadness when she is not introduced by her own father, you can see her horror turn to interest as the minister seems to show a fondness for her. You can see her coming into her own as the play progresses and June gets the opportunity to share her witness with the congregation.

I am not sure if there are any tickets left, the theatre was filled to overflowing last night. And rightly so- it was a great night of fun. I was actually disappointed when the show ended, I would have loved more stories and more music from this outstanding cast. Go to www.centralalabamatheatre.org or call 888-870-2477. SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN runs this weekend and next, August 5-7 and 12-14.


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From This Author Marietta Lunceford

With a BFA in musical theatre and a true love of the theatre, Marietta is thrilled to write for BroadwayWorld.com. Reviews and responses to local (read more...)