Where’s the fire?
Smoke on the Mountain
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre is staging its second annual “God-centered” summer musical. The faith-based productions are chosen partly out of a belief in the material and partly as a marketing strategy to pull in the church crowd, according to General Manager David Czarnecki.
Last year, the theater’s selection was the musical Sing Hallelujah, celebrating Southern Baptist gospel singing. This summer, it’s stuck with both the Baptists and gospel music. Smoke on the Mountain brings us the mountain melodies of Mount Pleasant Church in North Carolina.
There is little plot in this musical. A family of traveling singers descends upon a small church and its hapless pastor and proceeds to take over both the singing and the service. It’s really just a showcase for some old-fashioned gospel music, peppered with a bit of comic preaching and scripture one-upmanships.
Smoke is campy, silly and full of promise that doesn’t quite deliver. Going in, you pray such a well-intentioned production will succeed, but sadly this Smoke has no fire.
It’s not for lack of spirit. God knows this is an earnest cast, full of vim and vigor, enthusiasm and a love of the music. The seven-member cast puts its all into the performances, which require not only acting and singing skills, but also playing musical instruments. However, the majority of the cast has very limited or no stage experience, and it must deal with a script that is both hokey and pokey.
The plus is that the audience/congregation gets to witness such fun songs as “Christian Cowboy” and “The Filling Station” as well as such classics as “Bringing in the Sheaves” and “I’ll Fly Away.” With 20 songs in the show, you’re sure to leave Smoke humming a gospel tune or two.