“Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” SGN Review
Music and worship at Smoke on the Mountain
by Miryam Gordon – SGN A&E Writer
Smoke on the Mountain
Through August 8
Get ready to tap your foot in church. The gospel-singing Sanders family returns to Taproot Theatre in the third installment of Smoke on the Mountain. This is the proverbial “family who sings together.” Ma and Pa, Burl and Vera (Edd Key and Theresa Holmes), Uncle Stanley (David Anthony Lewis), and twins Denise and Dennis (Candace Vance and Brent Ashton) have come to say goodbye to daughter June (Jenny Cross) and her pastor husband, Mervin Oglethorpe (Kevin Brady), and to celebrate Dennis Sanders’ call to preach in Mervin’s stead. The Oglethorpes are moving far away to Texas, and with June pregnant and all, that’s a sad parting.
It’s 1945 in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. Dennis has come back unscathed from service fighting World War II. Stanley has come back, too, from years of drinking and wasting time, but they’re happy to see him. They each take turns telling stories about themselves and their families. It’s sweet and funny and there’s nothing controversial about anything, except maybe that Mervin went to a bar!
The main reason to sit through this church service is the music. Edd Key, music director, and his wife, Theresa Holmes, are masters at fiddles and guitars and banjos and singing. Harmonies harmonize, melodies mellow, and there’s nothing to poke fun at there at all.
Aside from the great singing and playing of music, you have to like church service. If you don’t, or you aren’t in the mood to visit someone else’s church, then you probably won’t have much fun at this production. Those for whom worship is important might truly enjoy the spectacle of worship in a stage production, since that’s not a usual topic for stages around Seattle.
The actors are great at what they do. They sound like how they’re supposed to sound (with the help of dialogue coach, Kate Forster), and they look outstanding in period costuming by Sarah Burch Gordon. Those are some great costumes. Check out the shoes. But the play is too reminiscent of an “ideal” time that probably never existed, sort of like Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver. It’s very white, it’s very unpolitical, and even though a pair of unseen 3-year-olds are supposed to be a terror, everyone thinks it’s kinda funny. Stanley’s bout of drinking is over and the prodigal son is coming home to be instantly forgiven. But if you have to miss church on Sunday, mosey on over to Taproot and make up for it.
For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.
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