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Companies Reviewed#
Medallion Performing Arts Center1
PlayRight Productions LLC1
Average Rating Given : 5.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Smoke on the Mountain, by Connie Ray
2007 PlayRight Is Better Than Ever!
Friday, July 13, 2007
I have seen several versions of Smoke On The Mountain. I even saw this cast last year, and it was the best version I had seen to date.

This year is even better! Last year a couple of the characters were almost over-the-top "caricatures" of southern people that didn't mesh with the authenticity of the rest of the cast. This year the characters are much more "seasoned" and more "real", which makes their antics even funnier!

Only one complaint: Though it's better this year than last, one actor's "cartoonish" mannerisms and over-exaggeration of a southern drawl (ie."DI-rectly" and "PAR-ticular") can be distracting when compared to the believability of the rest of the cast. Although he is obviously talented, it comes across as "trying too hard" to be funny.

This year the interactions of the characters appears more spontaneous than "directed". They really look like a family up there! (An incredibly talented, hilarious family!) This years' addition of Vanessa Carey as "June" is a welcome one! "If she ain't southern, I ain't sittin' here!"

Though this play can tend to border on "farcical", PlayRight Productions cast has been able to weave a thread of sincerity & reality into it that really pulls the audience into their world. In the end, "Smoke's" underlying theme of forgiveness, grace and unconditional love comes shining through.

Even without tweaking, I'll happily and enthusiastically see this cast do "Smoke On The Mountain" or any other musical every time I can.

Smoke on the Mountain, by
The Best "Smoke" EVER!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I have seen 3 other productions of Smoke On The Mountain, and this one done by Medallion at the Cumming Playhouse is by far the best!

From the minute Rev. Oglethorpe (Barry Piacente) nervously opens his office door, to the foot-stomping, roof-raising "I'll Fly Away-When The Roll Is Called Up Yander-I Saw The Light Medley"; you'll be captured in an always-hilarious, often touching time-warp...

It's 1938 in the North Carolina mountains. You're at the first Saturday night sing at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The nervous new pastor (Piacente, who deftly blends Don Knotts' nervousness and Andy Griffith's homespun confidence) is trying hard to balance pleasing the old guard (and money) Maude & Myrtle, and the need for "progress... into the modern world" by bringing in the unpredictable Sanders Family.

The Singing Sanders Family is doing their first concert after a 5-year hiatus.
You have:
-Burl, the dad who barely has control over the group and often doesn't(warmly and firmly played by Doug Allen);
-Vera, the scripture-spouting, firm-handed mom who has something to add to everything (played with power and grace by Jen Corrozza)
-June, the unmarried aunt whose hilarious (made up)"sign language" during the songs literally steals the show (brilliantly played by Kellie Fletcher)
-Stanley, the worldly-wise black sheep who has spent part of his 5 years off in the pokey, apparently they had no anger management programs back then. His irritation with the Reverend builds to a hilarious climax. (tenderly and believably done by David "Cotton" Payton)
-Dennis, one of the twins "the boy" whose painful shyness is confronted by his desire to be a preacher (convincingly and deftly done by Jared Davis)
-Denise, the starry-eyed twin sister, whose desire to be a "star" proves a believable mix of innocence and flirtation are a stark contrast with her twin brother (effortlessly portrayed by Susanna Smith)

Mix in the two spinsters, Maude & Myrtle (Heather Rose, Cheryl Rogers & Ronda Phillips)and it proves to be a rousing non-stop singing, laughing, dancing (gasp!) and even tear jerking production that keeps you wondering where to look!

The vocal abilities and musicianship of the actors was stunning! Add in 3 bluegrass virtuoso "cousins" on fiddle bass and mandolin (who also do their parts surprisingly well as actors) and you have a rip-roaring bluegrass-gospel fest to beat the band!

This production the best thing I have ever seen this side of Broadway! BRAVO!

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