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Smoke on the Mountain Chapter 3: Homecoming
a Musical
CATEGORY :
by Connie Ray

COMPANY : Stage Two Productions
VENUE : Kingswood United Methodist [WEBSITE]
ID# 3369

SHOWING : April 16, 2009 - April 26, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

First presented in 1988, "Smoke on the Mountain," Connie Ray's homage to a simpler time and life in the mountains of North Carolina, has become hugely successful and birthed two sequels. In episode 3, "Homecoming," World War II has ended and the Sanders are reunited for one last time in Mt. Pleasant. Big changes are on the horizon, but the Sanders meet every change head-on with trademark humor, occasional chaos, and a healthy dose of down-home harmonizing.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Laura Griffin
Musical Director Dennis Lewallen
June Sanders Oglethorpe Heather M Furlong
Stanley Sanders Johnny Griffin
Denise Sanders Stephanie Harp
Burl Sanders Dennis Lewallen
Vera Sanders Gail Lewallen
Mervyn Oglethorpe Bill Mahlandt
Dennis Sanders Jonathan Maxfield
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Lots of tuneful fun!
by playgoer
Friday, April 17, 2009
4.0
Chapter 3 of "Smoke on the Mountain" is playing April 16-19 at Kingswood Methodist Church and April 23-26 at Avondale First Baptist Church as a joint production of Stage II and Samford Studio. It's well worth a visit.

If you haven't seen either the original "Smoke on the Mountain" or its first sequel ("Sanders Family Christmas"), don't worry. The characters are the same, but enough history is given (or implied) in "Homecoming" to let you get a good idea of the family dynamics.

The play is structured to give showcase monologues to each of the seven actors in the show. None of the actors shirk the opportunity. Particular highlights are Jonathan Maxfield's and Johnny Griffin's more serious monologues and Gail Lewallen's comic children's sermon. These are well-written bits, and the performances wring the worth from them.

Some actors add their own take to the roles, particularly William Mahlandt and Heather Furlong as the Reverend Oglethorpe and his very pregnant wife. The Reverend doesn't sing in the earlier editions of "Smoke on the Mountain," but he sure does in this one! (He even yodels.) His wife June "signs" rather than sings, but her "signing" is every bit as delightful as song. She's a performer you can't take your eyes off. Belly-bustingly funny.

Stephanie Harp adds a strong female voice to the mix, which is needed when the men outnumber the women, especially when powerful voices like Dennis Lewallen's take part in the harmonies. The balance of voices wasn't quite right in some of the songs, but they all sounded good. A lot of the credit must go to the Bushy Mountain Bluegrass Band (credited as Kathy Reed, bass; Russell Weeks, banjo & guitar; Eddie Coon, guitar; and Susan Gascho, fiddle). Their before-show performance and banter got the crowd into the mood.

If you're not a fan of gospel or bluegrass music, you'll still enjoy the show. The monologues are the dramatic core of the production, and the songs slip by easily. And it's rarely just someone standing still on stage and warbling a soulful solo. Most of the songs are group songs, and that means that Heather Furlong's hilarious signing will keep your eyes happy even if what you hear isn't your favorite type of music.

Go see. Have fun! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Rev. Oglethorpe sings in SMOKE by Okely Dokely
He does the solo on "Jesus is Mine." And I'm pretty sure he sings something in Sanders Family Christmas. But he and June definitely don't sing as much as the other characters.


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