San­ders fam­ily back for one last visit

Fi­nal pro­duc­tion of ‘Smoke on the Moun­tain’ at Crossville’s Play­house

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - ARTS - STAFF RE­PORT

For 25 years, au­di­ences at Cum­ber­land County Play­house have laughed un­til their sides hurt at the mu­si­cal, well-mean­ing but malaprop-prone San­ders fam­ily in pro­duc­tions of “Smoke on the Moun­tain.”

The singing, tes­ti­fy­ing San­der­ses are vis­it­ing the Play­house for the last time be­gin­ning Fri­day, June 1, when “Smoke on the Moun­tain” re­turns for its 25th and fi­nal year. It’s the last chance for au­di­ences to catch one of the fan-fa­vorite shows at the the­ater.

The Play­house has done more per­for­mances of the show than any other the­ater in the world, ac­cord­ing to Play­house man­age­ment, and holds the record for long­est con­tin­u­ous run of the show.

This fi­nal pro­duc­tion fea­tures Daniel Black and Lau­ren Mar­shall as Burl and Vera San­ders. Join­ing them are Jensen Crain-Fos­ter as June San­ders, along with Cory Clark and DeAnna Etchi­son as twins Dennis and Denise San­ders. Round­ing out the San­ders fam­ily will be Play­house new­comer Matthew Ruff as Un­cle Stan­ley. Another Play­house new­comer, Richard Lisenby, will play the Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe.

“I’m truly honored to be di­rect­ing this land­mark pro­duc­tion for the Play­house,” says di­rec­tor Wes­lie Web­ster. “And I’m blessed to be work­ing with such a tal­ented cast. This marks Lau­ren Mar­shall’s 10th con­sec­u­tive year in the show and Daniel Black has per­formed in it for nearly 20 years. Dan- iel also has the unique dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing played ev­ery male char­ac­ter in the show over the past two decades.”

“Smoke on the Moun­tain” tells the story of the en­thu­si­as­tic min­is­ter of Mount Pleas­ant Bap­tist Church, who has en­listed the sin­gin’ and pickin’ San­ders fam­ily for the church’s first Satur­day Night Gospel Sing.

The au­di­ence be­comes the con­gre­ga­tion as the San­ders fam­ily weaves to­gether two dozen tra­di­tional and orig­i­nal hymns, along with their tes­ti­monies — serv­ing them up with heap­ing help­ings of laugh­ter. Un­der the scru­tiny of a con­gre­ga­tion that’s skep­ti­cal about the whole no­tion of a “Satur­day Night Sing,” one thing af­ter another goes awry as the San­ders fam­ily re­veal their true — and hi­lar­i­ously imperfect — na­tures.

The hon­esty, hu­mor and faith of this beloved Play­house tra­di­tion con­nect strongly with au­di­ences of all ages and faiths, who find them­selves part of a very spe­cial af­ter­noon or evening.

“Smoke on the Moun­tain” will run through Aug. 10.

Tick­ets may be re­served by call­ing 931484-5000 or vis­it­ing www. cc­play­house.com.

PHOTO BY SAN­DRA SAM HAHN

Cast of “Smoke on the Moun­tain,” open­ing June 1 at the Cum­ber­land County Play­house.

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