By Joseph Knoop
Characters Mervin, played by John Vessels, and June, played by Sarah Hund, in “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming” which is now playing at Beef & Boards dinner theater. (Submitted photo)
It’s October 1945, and the gospel-singing Sanders family is back in “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming” at Beef & Boards.
“Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming” is set for 46 performances from July 9 through August 16, telling the comedic story of a post-war North Carolinian family’s experiences at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Reverend Mervin Oglethorpe (played by John Vessels) is called away to preach in Texas, dragging along his eight month pregnant wife June, leaving the church to June’s brother Dennis. Twenty-five bluegrass gospel songs accompany the Sanders’ departure in a series of “anything that can go wrong, will” escapades.
Homecoming may come across as a little different than most plays or musicals, being the third installment in the “Smoke on the Mountain” musical series, written by Connie Ray and music by Mike Craver.
Audiences won’t have to worry about catching up thanks to the familiarity of actors and their ability to multitask, director Jeff Stockberger said.
“We’re lucky in the sense that four of the seven actors have done all three shows before, sometimes multiple times,” Stockberger said. “They’re able to play all their own instruments. It makes them a sort of triple threat. The more they sound like a real band, the more you believe every word that comes out of their mouth”
In this sequel, the audience plays the role of the congregation, and are encouraged to join in the celebration.
“It’s interesting to see how we have all aged,” Vessel said. “The first show we did was in 2007, so I was significantly younger. Each show can really stand on its own.”
Tickets range from $40 to $65 and include Chef Odell Ward’s dinner buffet and beverages. For reservations, call Beef & Boards at 872-9664.