Taproot Theatre’s current production of “Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” has been so popular, they’re extending its run for another two weeks. Originally scheduled to end this Saturday, “Smoke” will now run through Aug. 22.
Here’s neighborhood freelance writer Laura Genoves’ review of the show, first published on the PNA’s blog, and reprinted here with permission:
Once again, the Taproot Theater presents a performance filled with inspiration and hope to audiences in its comfy Greenwood venue. As with many of Taproot’s plays, the scenery is well crafted, but minimalist, relying on the strength of the performers to transport patrons to another place and time.
“Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” is set in the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in post World War II, North Carolina. Like an old heirloom quilt brought out of the chest for an airing, the Sanders family is back onstage for installment three of their saga. Since I had not seen either of the first installments, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to pick up their story where it left off, however this performance, filled with down home warmth, certainly stands on its own.
As the play progresses, each character presents a monologue; an individual patch in the quilt, stitched together with bluegrass and gospel songs. It is truly impressive to watch the performers switch from guitar to mandolin, to ukulele, harmonica and accordion, all topped off with brilliant percussion delivered by the character June (Jenny Cross). Cross also artfully and gracefully signs the majority of the songs, however I wasn’t quite sure how ASL was meant to incorporate into the production. Near the end of the performance her character quips, “Maybe someone there will be able to understand my signing,” in reference to moving to a new congregation.
Each character is equally gifted with not only brilliant musical ability, but also strong dramatic aptitude. Body language such as eye rolling or smirking from Uncle Stanley (David Anthony Lewis), demure smiles from the pregnant June (Jenny Cross) or awkward enthusiasm from Reverend Oglethorp (Kevin Brady) convey talent beyond the delivery of the spoken word. Denise (Candace Vance) showcases her beautiful soprano voice with a solo, and backs up the other performers with piano and accordion, her twin brother Dennis (Brent Ashton) plays a mean bass. The Sanders family just couldn’t put on a show without the musical leadership of Burl, (Edd Key), and his sweetly self-righteous, scripture quoting wife Vera (Theresa Holmes).