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Becca McCoy, Rick Dakota Hart, Robert Geils, Pete Wehle, Andrea DeGregerio and Jennifer Weaver become part of the Sanders family to entertain
at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in
Smoke on the Mountain

Smoke on the Mountain
heats up The Round Barn Theatre
with clappin' and stompin'

The Elkhart Truth
The Goshen News
The Nappanee Advanced News
The Paper
The South Bend Tribune

The staff for Smoke on the Mountain
Scenes and songs from Smoke on the Mountain
The cast of Smoke on the Mountain
The Repertory cast biographies
The Director's note
The Musical Director's note
Theme buffet menu
Smoke on the Mountain Photo Album

Visit other 2000 Season Productions

Smoke on the Mountain, since its premiere in 1988, has become the second most produced musical in regional theatres-after Pump Boys and Dinettes-proving that a Broadway run is not required for theatre success. Additionally, it has been performed in New Zealand, England, Ireland and Canada. No one expected Smoke to become universally popular. Producer Alan Bailey and writer Connie Ray created a musical comedy about a family of gospel singers in economically depressed 1938, a little family feudin' along with keeping the faith in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church somewhere in the North Carolina hills. "When it played in New York, most of the audience had never been to a church like this. They saw it as something new," Bailey explains. "But now, in the regional theatre setting, the primary appeal is to people most like the audience in the play's church."

Smoke on the MountainAmish Acres fall production, in repertory with Plain and Fancy and Triumph of Love, runs September 12 through October 29. The show takes place in the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, membership of 63, located just west of Hickory near the Blue Grass Mountains. It's June of 1938. The United States is in the last years of the great depression. Mount Pleasant's principal industries are farming and pickle production. The Mount Pleasant pickle plant has lately begun laying off people at an alarming rate due to the economy. The factory makes everyone and everything smell of vinegar and dill.

The Sanders family, after a five-year hiatus from the gospel singing circuit, comes to Mt. Pleasant. They travel in an ancient bus with "The Sanders Family" hand painted on the side. Pastor Oglethorpe is a young enthusiastic minister who wants to bring his tiny congregation into the modern world. In addition to being late, the Sanders family has opening night jitters combined with the disdain of a pair of spinsters, the church's chief benefactors, keeping the evening on the verge of chaos. Between songs the family members "witness", or tell stories that relate to their trials of faith.

Rev. Oglethorpe"Smoke is a case of art imitating life, at least here in Nappanee," said producer Richard Pletcher. "Locals still talk about the night the Bill Gaither Trio came an hour late to the Nappanee Missionary Church downtown because they didn't realize that Michigan, from where they came, was on different time than Indiana. Like Rev. Oglethorpe, song leader, the late Dale Brecheisen kept everyone in their pews with a marathon, warm-up hymn sing."

The music, most of it bluegrass-flavored gospel, full of four-part harmonies, features the performers playing a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, harmonicas, auto harp, ukulele, plus numerous homemade percussion instruments. In addition to the great music, the show reveals itself as being about forgiveness and all the simple things in life and about getting along with one's family.

New and old gospel songs make the show a contemporary and historical musical treat. "Wonderful time up There," "No Tears in Heaven," "Christian Cowboy," "I'll Never Die" (I'll just change my address), "Jesus is Mine," "I'll live a Million Years," "I wouldn't take nothing for my journey Now," "I'm using my bible for a road map," "I'll walk every step of the Way," "I'm taking a Flight," "Smoke on the Mountain" and "I'll fly Away."

Andrea DiGregorioThe Raleigh (NC) News-Observer observed, "Smoke celebrates a lost age of innocence-old-time religion in song and silliness. The Sanders are salt-of-the-earth-as beautiful as their faith. And their music, that good old-time gospel, has more kick than a jug of white lightning! It's pure pleasure."

New artistic director Michael Cripe will be making his Round Barn Theatre directing and choreography debut. Repertory cast stalwart Jason Lawergren will play Mervin Oglethorpe, pastor and promoter of this first ever Saturday night sing at Mount Pleasant. Robert Geils will play Burl, the father of the Sanders clan. Becca McCoy will play Vera, the mother. Musical director Al Fisher will play Stanley the guitar-picking uncle. Andrea DiGregorio and Rick Dakota Hart will play the seventeen-year old twins, Denise and Dennis, respectively. Aunt June, played by Jennifer Weaver, is everyone's favorite aunt.

The artistic staff for the production includes set design by Ike Faust, production management and lighting design by Laurie DeMunck, costumes by Jennifer Weaver, props by Andrea DiGregorio and company manager Scott Saegesser

Smoke on the MountainThe Theme Buffet for Smoke on the Mountain will remind diners of the traditional Pot Luck Carry-in Dinner. The menu will feature roasted tomato and carrot soup, pickled eggs, red potato salad, pleasant pickle factory sampler, seven-bean salad, creamy cucumber cole slaw, corn bread and clover honey, baking powder biscuits and Vera's jelly of the week. The entrees include chicken fried beef steak, vegetable noodle casserole, breaded and pan fried catfish, parsley potatoes, mustard greens seasoned with bacon and onion. Familiar desserts include banana cream pie in graham cracker crust, Mrs. Oglethorpe's cherry chocolate cake, Miss Myrtle's Turtles and Brenda's famous crème brule', North Carolina sweetened ice tea and lemonade.

The show opens in previews September 12, with opening night scheduled for Saturday night, September 16, and will run in rotating repertory with Plain & Fancy and Triumph of Love through
October 29. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. and matinees are at
2 p.m. Theme buffets are served each Friday night by reservation only. Threshers Dinner served daily. For tickets, dinner-theatre and lodging packages, go to or call the box office at

Smoke on the Mountain

2000 Production of Smoke on the Mountain

Smoke on the Mountain Staff

Written by Connie Ray
Conceived by Alan Bailey
Musical Arrangement by
Mike Craver & Mark Hardwick

Produced by, Richard Pletcher
Directed by, Michael Cripe

Musical Director, Al Fischer & Sherry K.
Set Designer/Technical Director, Ike Foust
Audio Designer, Timothy A. Bennett
Costume Designer, Jennifer L. Weaver
Company Manager, Scott Saegesser
Production Manager, Laurie A. DeMunck-Herbst
Production Stage Manager, Laurie A. DeMunck-Herbst
Sound Board Operator/Master Electrician, Thad Engle
Wig Master, Robert Geils
Props Master, Andrea DiGregorio

Smoke on the Mountain is produced
by special arrangement by Samuel French, Inc.

Smoke on the Mountain

Smoke on the Mountain

Scenes and Songs from
Smoke on the Mountain

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
Outside of Hickory, North Carolina
Early evening on June 15, 1938

Act I

Rock of Ages
Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe
The Church in the Wildwood
The Sanders Family
Wonderful Time Up There
The Sanders Family
Build on the Rock
The Sanders Family
Meet Mother in the Skies
Stanley & Burl Sanders
No Tears in Heaven
The Sanders Family
Christian Cowboy
Dennis & Denise Sanders
The Filling Station
The Sanders Family
I’ll Never Die (I’ll Just Change My Address)
Denise Sanders
Jesus is Mine
Rev. Oglethorpe & Sanders Family
The Blood Medley
Nothing but the Blood
Are you Washed in the Blood
There is Power in the Blood
There is a Fountain Filled with Blood

The Sanders Family
I’ll Live a Million Years
The Sanders Family

Act II

I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
Vera & Burl Sanders
Everyone Home But Me
Stanley Sanders
I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
The Sanders Family
Angel Band
The Sanders Family & Rev. Oglethorpe
Bringing in the Sheaves
Whispering Hope
The Sanders Family
Inching Along
The Sanders Family
I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap
The Sanders Family
I’ll Walk Every Step of the Way
The Sanders Family
I’m Taking a Flight
The Sanders Family
Life’s Railway to Heaven
The Sanders Family
Smoke on the Mountain
The Sanders Family
I’ll Fly Away
The Sanders Family
When the Roll is Called up Yonder
The Sanders Family & Rev. Oglethorpe

Smoke on the Mountain

Stanley and Burl Sanders singing

The Cast of Smoke on the Mountain

Burl Sanders Robert Geils
Vera Sanders Becca McCoy
June Sanders Jennifer L. Weaver
Denise Sanders Andrea DiGregorio
  Jennie S. Yoder-Grunseth
Dennis Sanders Rick Dakota Hart
  Sam Brown
Stanley Sanders Pete Wehle
Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe Jason Lawergren
  Scott Saegesser
Miriam Sanders Sherry K
Carl Sanders Jim Beck

2000 Production of
Smoke on the Mountain

Director's Note

As the new artistic director, I was concerned that I had never heard of Smoke on the Mountain, the first show I would be directing. I was anxious to read the script and hear the music and was relieved to discover such a delightful show. The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church is located just west of Hickory, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is June of 1938. The United States is in the last years of the Great Depression.

Smoke on the Mountain celebrates a lost age of innocence ~ old time religion in song and silliness. The Sanders family is the salt-of-the-earth, as beautiful as their faith. And their music, that good old-time gospel, has more kick than a jug of white lightening! It’s pure pleasure and an amazing case of art imitating life, at least here in Nappanee. I am told locals still talk about the night the Bill Gaither Trio came an hour late to the Nappanee Missionary Church downtown because they didn’t realize that Michigan, from where they were coming, was an hour behind Indiana. Like Rev. Oglethorpe in our show, song leader, the late Dale Brecheisen, kept everyone in their pews with a marathon warm-up hymn sing.

Smoke on the Mountain has brought me into the Round Barn Theatre family where I have been welcomed by a talented cast and greatly supportive and dedicated technical team. I am looking forward to a long and successful run of this musical and many more to come. Enjoy the show.

Michael Cripe
Artistic Director

Smoke on the Mountain

2000 Production of Smoke on the Mountain

Smoke on the Mountain
Theme Buffet

Pot Luck Carry-in Dinner

Roasted Tomato and Carrot Soup

Pickled Eggs
Red Potato Salad
Pleasant Pickle Factory Sampler

Seven Bean Salad
Creamy Cucumber Cole Slaw

Corn Bread and Clover Honey
Baking Powder Biscuits

Vera's Jelly of the Week

Chicken Fried Beef Steak
Vegetable Noodle Casserole
Breaded and Pan Fried Catfish

Parsley Potatoes
Mustard Greens Seasoned with Bacon and Onion

Banana Cream Pie in Graham Cracker Crust
Mrs. Oglethorpe's Cherry Chocolate Cake
Miss Myrtle's Turtles
Brenda's Famous Crème Brulé

North Carolina Sweetened Ice Tea

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2006 Musical
Theatre Season

2006 Season Schedule

Plain and Fancy
April 18 - October 28

Forever Plaid
May 3 - June 4

Bye Bye Birdie
June 13 - July 23

August 1 - September 10

Fiddler on the Roof

September 19 - October 29

A Christmas Carol
November 7 - December 31

June 25
A Costumed
Musical Staged Reading

Enter Laughing (PG13)
Six Performances
August 20 - September 4
A Second Stage Production

Amish Acres Historic Farm, Nappanee, Indiana

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