June 1, 2014

DLT play features bluegrass gospel music, comedy

It is October of 1945, the war is over, and the gospel-singing Sanders family is back together again.

“Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” will be presented on the stage of Dalton Little Theatre beginning Friday and will continue for three full weekends of bluegrass gospel music and laughter.

After getting their start singing at revivals, protracted meetings, brush arbors and state-wides, the Sanders family took a hiatus due to the war and grandbabies. They are now back on the Gospel Circuit and preparing to sing their toe-tapping spirituals at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

Jeff Adair directs, with Toby Westmoreland as musical director, this musical comedy which is packed with 25 old-time gospel favorites such as “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “Gloryland Boogie” and “Standing on the Promises” mixed with hilarious and touching stories in-between.

“I have always been a fan of the Smoke On the Mountain musicals and there are three of them and to my knowledge this one has never been staged in our area,” said Adair.

Written by Connie Ray, conceived by Alan Bailey, with musical arrangements by Mike Craver, “Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” is the third in a trilogy of Sanders family musicals following “Smoke on the Mountain” and “Sander’s Family Christmas.”

“It really ties all the story lines together and is a fitting conclusion to the Sanders family story,” said Adair.

Besides directing, Adair is also reprising his role as the patriarch of the family, Burl Sanders.

“I have played Burl Sanders once before in ‘Smoke On the Mountain: Sanders Family Christmas’ at the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun,” said Adair, “and I really love this character. It is rare in theater that you get a chance to play a character twice in different shows. Bringing Burl back to life and onto the stage as a grandpa has been fun.”

Of the rest of the cast, Adair notes, “They are a fun and talented group. We all work really well together and I believe our harmonies and the way we blend musically is spot on.”

Anita Ba Radwan plays Burl’s “strong and steady” wife, Vera Sanders, who belts out heartfelt hymns with children Denise, played by Jennifer Wilson, June, played by Jessica Trivino, and Dennis, played by Jordan Wilson.

The cast also includes Zach Barton who plays June’s husband, the Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe, Chris Fowler as Stanley Sanders, Roy Groce as Clyde Nations, and Lane Nichols as Clyde Nations III.

Sitting in the “Amen Corner” are Sister Maude, played by Cherie Bailey, and Sister Myrtle played by Nancy Broussard.

In the musician’s corner are Westmoreland on piano and Phil Hayes on guitar and mandolin.

Adair hopes that the audience will enjoy “the great Southern gospel and bluegrass music and the humor. It is pure escapism where you can just sit back, relax, and be entertained.”

The production dates of the musical are June 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21 at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee June 15 at 2 p.m..

For more information contact DLT at (706) 226-6618 or dlt@optilink.us or visit www.daltonlittletheatre.com.

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