After 16 years, the Port Angeles Community Players will conclude the "Smoke on the Mountain" series.
"Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming" is the final production in a trio of plays, all of which have appeared on the Players stage directed by Kathleen Balducci.
The finale is bittersweet for Balducci, who directed the first two plays in 1994 and 1999 with the help of her husband, who died two years ago.
"It's personal for all of us in a play like this," Balducci said, choking back tears as she tells how the casts of the first two plays gathered at her husband's funeral to sing songs from the production, and then again at her mother's funeral two weeks later.
"The 'family' truly becomes family."
"Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming" is a very relevant play, according to Balducci, about war and tough economical times.
In the first, "Smoke on the Mountains," Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe, a young and enthusiastic minister, enlists the Sanders Family Singers in his efforts to bring his tiny congregation into the "modern world." The second play, "Sanders Family Christmas," takes place on Christmas Eve in 1941, just before young Dennis Sanders ships off to join World War II. In both plays, the family members "witness" or tell personal stories that relate to their trials of faith, between gospel songs.
"Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming" uses 24 standard gospel songs. The cast of seven sings to the audience as if it's the congregation.
The year is 1945 and the setting is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant, N.C. The war is over and America's prosperity is beginning. The Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe is giving his last service. Having been called to preach in Texas, he's bought a 10-gallon hat and is preparing to ride into the sunset with his pregnant wife, June. In the morning, June's brother Dennis will take over as pastor.
Join the Sanders Family as they send Mervin and June off in style, with hilarious and touching stories and fabulous bluegrass gospel favorites.
Don Scott, who plays Burl Sanders, described the play as a very "moving" piece that "will make you laugh and will make you cry."
The neat thing about "Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming," Balducci said, is that it's a fun performance the whole family will enjoy even if they missed the first two plays in the series.