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Plenty of Firsts In SJCT’S Smoke on the Mountain
by Jan Bollwinklel-Smith, for the Community Theatre

There’s a first time for everything. And some of the actors in the San Juan
Community Theatre’s hit production of Smoke on the Mountain find themselves
shining with new talents.

The gospel musical comedy written by Connie Ray and directed by islander
Denise King, continues its SummerFest 2007 run, with performances this
Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29.

Smoke on the Mountain transforms the Gubelman into Mount Pleasant Baptist
Church in North Carolina on a summer night in 1938, where The Sanders Family
Singers join the congregation for an evening of gospel bluegrass mixed with
a heartwarming and comedic plot to keep everyone’s toes tapping and faces’

The 10-person and 1 dog (yes, dog) cast includes veteran actors and
musicians new to acting. One of those veterans, island native Jenni
Merritt (June Sanders) not only learned sign language for her part, but also
takes on strumming a washboard and other old-time musical instruments.
Jared Dean (Dennis Sanders) and Tyler Schubert (Jed Sanders) play in an
island rock band together but neither had played music in a play.

Then there’s local folk musicians Darlene Wahl (Maybelle Sanders) and Ken
Arzarian (Ken Sanders) who have plenty of musical experience but have never
acted on stage before. And Darlene’s pooch, Fayette (Rufus in the play) just
might be the first dog in the Theatre’s history to stay on stage throughout
the play.

Director Denise King says from the beginning she knew she had a wonderful
cast, but “their eagerness and willingness to learn new things has added a
lot of creativity to the production.”

The final performances of Smoke on the Mountain are August 2, 3, and 4 at 8
p.m. and Sunday, August 5 at 5 p.m. For tickets, call SJCT at 378-3210 or