IF YOU GO
■ What: "Smoke on the Mountain."
■ When: May 30-Aug. 8.
■ Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.
■ Admission: $25 adults, $24 seniors, $23 groups, $13 students.
■ Phone: 931-484-5000.
■ Website: www.ccplayhouse.com.
ALSO AT THE PLAYHOUSE
■ "Annie Get Your Gun," starring Kellye Cash, through July 11.
Cumberland County Playhouse continues its march toward a third decade of "Smoke on the Mountain" when the audience favorite debuts Friday, May 30, for its consecutive year. The bluegrass/gospel musical comedy runs through Friday, Aug. 8.
Besides drawing sell-out crowds to the Playhouse, "Smoke" is the most popular title licensed by Samuel French Inc., the world's oldest and largest publisher of plays and musicals, says Weslie Webster, who's directing the show.
French also verifies that the Playhouse has done more performances of this bluegrass/gospel musical comedy than any other theater.
"Our company has made 'Smoke on the Mountain' a Playhouse tradition with its longest run anywhere," says producer and CEO Jim Crabtree.
The musical is set in 1938 in Mount Pleasant, N.C. It's a Saturday night, and the Rev. Oglethorpe has invited the Sanders Family Singers to provide an uplifting evening of song at his church.
The audience becomes the congregation as the singers present two dozen traditional and original hymns ("Whispering Hope," "Christian Cowboy") along with their stories of witness. Though the family members try to appear perfect in the eyes of a congregation skeptical about the whole notion of a "Saturday Night Sing," one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true -- and hilariously imperfect -- natures.
Leading off this year's cast are Playhouse favorites Patty Payne as June Sanders and Jason Ross as Mervin Oglethorpe. Between the two of them, they've performed in nearly 1,000 performances of "Smoke" since the show opened in the Adventure Theater in.
The cast also includes Lauren Marshall, who does double duty as Vera Sanders and the show's music director, along with Daniel Black and Bobby Taylor, who'll share the role of Burl Sanders. Austin Price returns to the cast, this time as Uncle Stanley, as does Malachi Banegas as son Dennis. Newcomer Elizabeth Wyld will appear as Dennis' twin sister, Denise.
The play is rated G, except for "one word that ought not to be used in church."