Wednesday, February 01, 2012

TOP STORY >> Musical comedy in Cabot

Myrtle (left), played by Catherine Roberts, and Maude, played by Kathleen Whitt, gasp in horror at seeing dancing in the small Baptist church.

Leader staff writer

The cast of the musical comedy “Smoke on the Mountain” expects to fill the Cabot Community Theater with laughter Friday and Saturday night.

The musical takes place in 1938 when the wacky but lovable Sanders Family Singers get back on the gospel singing circuit after a five-year hiatus. They’re making their comeback at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in North Carolina for an evening of singing and witnessing. More than two-dozen bluegrass gospel songs are interspersed with hilarious testimonies from the family.

Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. The show starts at 7:30. The play will be staged at 204 N. First St.

The theater is taking reservations for the performances and dinner, which will be held again Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and Feb. 11. On Feb. 12, the musical will be performed without dinner.

Tickets for dinner and the show are $25 for adults. Tickets for just the show are $15.

Children ages 12 and under get dinner and the show for $15 or just the show for $10.

Director Brian Wolters explained that the central conflict in the plot is that members of the small church aren’t ready for “fiddles and guitars” in the house of the lord.

He couldn’t find a fiddle player in Cabot, so the theater’s production will feature guitars and a piano instead.

Traditionally, every cast member played an instrument, but that won’t be the case for this production.

“We’re lucky to have singers and actors. All three would be great,” Wolters said. That was one challenge he faced getting the musical together.

“This has been a fantastic cast. They’re seasoned singers. I was blown away,” he added.

This is the sixth production of “Smoke on the Mountain” Wolters has directed, he said. He has done it at the Arkansas Arts Center, Searcy Community Theater and in Cabot. The play is performed daily in Branson and it has been on Broadway before.

Preacher Mervin Oglethorpe, Wolters’ character, is “goofy, but he means the best. He wants his church to go into the modern world,” the director/actor explained.

Wolters said, “I fell in love with it (theater) in high school, back in ’86. Every time I wanted to give it up (to spend more time with family), it kept pulling me back in. I work and live and play in Cabot pretty much.”

Catherine Roberts plays the role of Myrtle, one of the small church’s two benefactors. “We’re appalled at what they’ve (the Sanders family) done in here (Mount Pleasant). We don’t do things like this (music in the church),” she explained.

Bob Morris is Burl Sanders. “He’s the patriarch of the family. He’s a pretty steady part of the family, but a little eccentric. He’s a good old dependable father,” Morris said.

Dee Clark is Vera Sanders, the mother of the singing group. “She puts on airs that her life is perfect and she has perfect children,” Clark said.

Ashley Shearers, Clark’s real-life daughter, is Denise Sanders, Vera’s daughter. “She (Denise) is 17 and she’s very impressed with herself. She makes a huge mistake and realizes that she’s not perfect.”

Tyler Kibbe plays Denise’s twin brother, Dennis. “He’s naive, very scared to speak in public. I get to play someone I’m not normally like,” Kibbe said, adding that Dennis wants to be a pastor and addresses sermons to his dog as a way to get over his fear of public speaking.

Johnny Hunt is Stanley, Burl’s brother. Stanley went to prison, their mother passed away after he got out of jail and Stanley straightened up his life after that.

Hunt said he enjoys playing the part because, “I get to sing a lot of old stuff. It’s a kind of real country get-up.”

Other characters are Jude Sanders, the eldest daughter who does sign language and a Sanders cousin who plays guitar.