WAXAHACHIE — Back by popular demand, "Smoke On The Mountain," is a beguiling, foot-stomping production that pair’s comedy with nostalgic family themes in a blithesome presentation. Originally written by Connie Ray and later adapted for the stage by Alan Bailey, the Waxahachie Community Theatre is thrilled to present a memorable show the whole family can enjoy.
“It’s good for all ages and people who have been in church all their lives, and for people who have never been in church. It’s still that down-home humor that appeals to all ages. Everything we do is family friendly,” assured Kasi Jones, WCT Executive Director.
Inspired to start the show from a former WCT performer, Jones is bringing the country show to Waxahachie for the second time.
“I’ve wanted to do this show for a long time, and we saw it in Branson last year. One of our former WCT girls, Melissa Todd, plays in one of the shows in Branson. We went and saw her last year, and I thought, ‘We’ve got to do this show,’ - it’s great,” Jones complimented.
Rehearsing since Jan. 9, the cast and crew of "Smoke on the Mountain" have been hard at work to make this year’s performance better than the last.
“It’s a seven-person cast, four of the seven are repeats who did the show last year in February, and then we have three new members this year. So there’s kind of ‘Yes, we know the show,’ or ‘No, we don’t know the show,’ and meshing it all together,” Jones explained.
“A couple of our cast members are scared spitless but that’s okay, and it’s good for them. We’re a community theater, so we’re very family oriented. Everybody’s one big family, and we’re like, ‘Come on, you can do it! We know you can do it!’ So, there’s a lot of energy on stage, and it’s just a fun show. I love this show,” she added, proud of her cast and crew overcoming stage jitters and getting ready for opening night.
The play takes place in the sanctuary of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. On a Saturday night in June 1938, during the last years of the economic downfall of the Great Depression, Pastor Oglethorpe, the young and enthusiastic minister, has enlisted the bluegrass gospel-singing Sanders Family to lift the spirits of his congregation.
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 the congregation, one thing after another goes wrong as their authentic and hilariously imperfect natures publicize before the crowd. By the end of the service, the Sanders Family has endeared themselves to the audience by exposing their weaknesses and allowing those watching to share in their victories.
“I was raised in the church, and this brings back so many memories of an old country church. And that’s what it is - it’s a Gospel-singing, very laid back, and goofy production. It’s comedy because you see the quirks of the family dynamics, but then you got the prominent moments where they’re giving their ‘witness’ and own personal stories. There are a couple of places where you’ll cry. Of course, I’m a crier anyway, even though I know what’s coming I still tear up,” Jones admitted.
As for the theater’s long-standing family-friendly reputation, Jones promises clean humor, coupled with a performance worth watching.
“Our motto is ‘Educate, enrich, and entertain,’ and I think that pretty much sums up what our mission is. It’s hard to find theatrical groups that everything is something you’d want to take your mom or grandkids to that we can all enjoy together. It’s very versatile. That’s our claim to fame, we are family-friendly, no matter what the show is,” Jones stated.
“I don’t like to do shows that are dark, and you have to think about, wondering what the underlying meaning is. I want people to come and be entertained, have a couple of hours not thinking about what’s happening in the world, and just enjoy the show. We all need that release and outlet in a non-threatening environment, just to laugh and sing a song,” she smiled.
And for those who are curious about what to expect from the show?
“its kind of like Hee Haw meets Bill Gaither,” she laughed. “They can expect good ‘ol down home music, down-home humor, just plain ‘ol folks having a good time, and telling the story of the Sanders Family Singers in 1938,” Jones finished, welcoming everyone to attend their performances.
Showing Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 12 at 2:30 p.m., tickets are $15 per person with free admission for preschool children. The show is at Living Hope Nazarene Church, located at 2420 Brown Street in Waxahachie.
To book your ticket now, contact Waxahachie Community Theatre’s box office at (972)-646-1050 or visit, waxahachiecommunitytheatre.com.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer