BWW Previews: SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN Brings Honesty, Humor and Music to Mill Town Players
Sometimes, all we want from theatre is an escape. Something charming and funny that will make us want to clap and sing and maybe even stomp our feet as we flash back to a simpler time.
If you're ready for something along those lines, then make plans now to head for Pelzer where Smoke on the Mountain opens this weekend at Mill Town Players.
We asked Mill Town's Executive Artistic Director Will Ragland to tell us about the show.
Smoke on the Mountain tells the story of a Saturday Night Gospel Sing at a country church in North Carolina's Smoky Mountains in 1938. The show features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling group making its return to performing after a five-year hiatus. Pastor Oglethorpe, the enthusiastic minister of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, has enlisted the Sanders Family in his efforts to bring his tiny congregation into "the modern world." Between songs, each family member "witnesses" -- telling a story about an important event in their life. Though they try to appear perfect in the eyes of a congregation who wants to be inspired by their songs, one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true -- and hilariously imperfect - natures. By the evening's end, the Sanders Family have endeared themselves to us by revealing their weaknesses and allowing us to share in their triumphs.
What led you to choose this play for your season?
Smoke on the Mountain is a perennial favorite in regional and community theaters, especially across the Southeast. My friends Tom and Tricia Dyar have performed in the show in various venues across the country and first approached me about producing it at the Pelzer Auditorium a year or two ago. Now in our 3rd season, I knew it would be a perfect fit for our audiences, and judging by the fact that nearly half of all tickets have already sold before opening, we picked a good one! Bringing to the table Upstate stage veteran Myra Greene, who directed the show to sold-out audiences previously in Greenwood, was the icing on the cake to assembling the strongest team we could find to present this heartwarming musical of fellowship in song.
What can the audience expect to come away with?
With all the challenging and often negative things we have to deal with in today's world, this show offers an escape to a simpler time. The strength of the show lies in its musical standards, many of which folks in our area grew up with in church, and in the honesty and humor of its characters. It's the perfect Southern family entertainment that connects us to our roots and spiritual foundations. Expect to clap, stomp, laugh, cry, and be uplifted with this Appalachian, musical gem of a play.
The show stars Tricia Dyar, Tom Dyar, Mckelvie Wilder, Aaron Pennington, Libby Crews, and Mary Katherine Sosebee as the Sanders Family and Will Ragland as Pastor Oglethorpe. Myra Greene directs and the musical director is Tricia Dyar.
Smoke on the Mountain runs May 19-June 4 at Mill Town Players in Historic Pelzer Auditorium, 214 Lebby Street, Pelzer, SC 29669. Tickets are only $10, with discounts for seniors, military, and students, and can be purchased online at www.milltownplayers.org, by calling (864)947-8000, or at the door.
Photo credit: Escobar Photography