Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow
Sanders family back for one last visit
Final production of ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ at Crossville’s Playhouse
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.