Musical Comedy “Smoke on the Mountain” Returning to Historic Masonic Theatre
Wilma McClung is the director of the upcoming production of “Smoke on the Mountain,” which will be presented at the Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge during the next two weekends. She spoke with Allegheny Mountain Radio about what folks can expect.
Ms. McClung says, “It’s described as a heartwarming musical comedy. I think it’s more – well, I can’t say it’s more of a comedy than a musical because there are twenty-four old-time Gospel songs in it. The cast, some of them are veterans and have been in some of the other ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ productions, and it’s been fun to have them back again, but then we have some new people this time, which is exciting, too. About four or five years ago, we had the original ‘Smoke on the Mountain,’ and it’s like a trilogy. There’s ‘Smoke on the Mountain,’ and ‘Sanders Family Christmas,’ and ‘Sanders Family Reunion,’ and we’ve done all three of those, and now we’re back to ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ again, back by popular demand. This one is coming up Friday, May 11th, Saturday, May 12th at 7:30 in the evening. Then the following weekend, we have a show at Friday, May 18th at 7:30 and then our Sunday matinee at 2:00.”
Ms. McClung has been directing for almost fifty years. She continues, “I directed my first play at church when I was fifteen. I was hooked from then on, yes. I directed some for the children’s theatre and a lot for the adult theatre. We’ve done ‘Dorothy Meets Alice,’ with children’s theatre. We did ‘Treasure Island.’ We did the ‘Wizard’s Crystal.’ We did ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with the children’s theatre, and then with the adults, we’ve done the ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ series, and last year, we did one with adults and children called ‘The Miracle Worker.’ ”
We asked Ms. McClung how long she has been with the Historic Masonic Theatre. She responded, “Since 1973. I got to see the restoration, and that’s been a very exciting venture for me. They’re all state of the arts now. The Masonic Theatre was built as an opera house in 1905, 1906, and it was an opera house for a while under the operation of the Masons, and then it changed hands, and it showed silent movies, and it showed black and white movies, talkies, and then it went to color movies, 3D movies, and it’s been through a lot of changes. After the operas, they had vaudeville there. Once they supposedly had thirty-four sheep on stage! They’ve had magic shows, a baby elephant came up through the stage, and Count Basie Orchestra’s been there, the Barrymores have been there, and Lash LaRue, Roy Rogers. It’s had a lot of famous people in and out of that theatre over the years. This past year since the restoration, we had seventeen sold-out shows.”
In conclusion, Ms. McClung has more on “Smoke on the Mountain,” which will feature a certain someone familiar to morning listeners of Allegheny Mountain Radio. “ ‘Smoke on the Mountain’ is very, very funny. It’s about a singing Sanders Family who come back to this little Baptist church to put on a Saturday Night Sing, and each of the seven members, one by one, get up to do their solo and proceed to confess their sins to much to the horror of the rest of the family members and the embarrassment of the congregation,” she says with a laugh. “So it’s quite funny. You look out in the audience, and everybody’s just laughing so hard. One of the Sanders doesn’t sing, she signs, and that’s June, and that’s played by your own Sage, and she doesn’t really know how to sign, so that makes it even funnier, because she really makes some funny motions trying to get the songs out as you can imagine. We’re excited about having it two weekends in a row, because lots of people come back a second and third time to see it. It’s so funny. They bring their friends and their families the second time they come back. I hope everyone at this radio station manages to come down because Sage does a really good job.”
To see Sage Tanguay and the rest of the crew, folks can learn more at www.historicmasonictheatre.com.