Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Features / Living

May 30, 2007

Matt Smith: Plaza play soars with heavenly harmony

Welcome to Mount Pleasant, N.C., a place that, in the words of one character, is the “only town that smells like it should belong on a hot dog.”

Times are tough for the rural outpost, what with the Depression full on and the town’s main employer driven out of business. Faith proves stronger, however, and nowhere more so than at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

The Rev. Oglethorpe (Daniel Merrifield) leads the flock — that flock being the Plaza Theatre Co. audience — while a band of traveling troubadours, the Sanders family, delivers the song and dance. It’s best not to tell the busybody church ladies about the latter though.

And what great music “Smoke on the Mountain” delivers. Despite one’s religious persuasion, or lack thereof, I’m betting few could resist tapping toes and clapping along to the show’s heady mix of folk, bluegrass, gospel and harmony. Some songs are so joyful and upbeat that audience members may convert on the spot while others are as mournful as a beloved family hound on his last legs.

The play’s story (the music’s really the thing here) occurs between and within the numbers. Father Burl Sanders (G. Aaron Sanders) battles temptations of moral compromise in the face of declining business while his brother, Stanley Sanders (JaceSon Barrus) struggles with temptations of a wayward life while seeking salvation through church and family. Mother Vera Sanders (Darcy Farrington) keeps a close watch on everyone, especially daughters Denise (Kaitlin McDonald) and June Sanders (Danielle Beacham) who spend much of the play making doe eyes at Oglethorpe. Painfully shy Dennis Sanders (Joey Geisel) prays the Lord will fill his mouth with the right words. He stutters while proclaiming in deer-in-the-headlights fashion his intention to preach. No huge surprise what happens next.

Text Only
Features / Living
  • photo.jpg All dolled up

    Wilma Reed’s doll was fine until her brother, an aspiring doctor, decided to operate on Old Gal. 

    “He thought she had a tumor,” Reed said. “He broke half her head off. After he he saw how her eyes worked, who cares? I drug her around with half her head gone.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • photo.jpg Swinging for scholarships

    In a county full of Aggie love there is a group of Longhorn lovers giving scholarships to future University of Texas students.

    The Texas Exes Johnson County Chapter is part of the University of Texas Alumni Association. The Johnson County chapter has met officially for the past 10 years. The organization has several missions which include alumni engagement, communicating UT values and advocacy of the university. But, the Johnson County chapter has decided to focus their attention more on community service and, most importantly, supporting education.

    July 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • PHOTO.tif Artful endeavors

    Nancy Ann Kilpatrick never knew her mother-in-law. But she recently made sure that Jessie Marie Kilpatrick’s legacy as an artist and a mother lives on in Johnson County.

    Nancy Kilpatrick recently donated what J.N. Long Cultural Arts Complex board President Alden Nellis calls a “treasure trove of art” to the complex — a trove that included a number of oil paintings and paintings on ceramics by Jessie Marie Kilpatrick. Nellis said some of the paintings will become part of the complex’s permanent collection, while others will be sold to add funds to the J.N. Long coffers.

    July 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • B1.tif A cut above

     Pat Jacobs, 76, of Burleson and his wife, Nellie, met me at their front door primly dressed in creased, starched jeans, western shirts and silver belt buckles. Their custom western hats were close by. 

    July 6, 2014 3 Photos

  • PHOTO.tif Cleburne hunter responds to Facebook reactions

    Cleburne resident Kendall Jones’ Facebook pictures and posts chronicing her African hunting safari are rife with responses ranging from support to disgust to outright hatred.

    June 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • photo.tif She’s going to Disney World

    It’s no surprise that Mei-Ling Sangsvang can’t walk from one end of Wal-Mart to the other without tiring. 

    Her spine was fused to her brain at birth. She was born without her left kidney, ovaries or a uterus. She has no nerves to her bladder.  

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • photo.tif A childhood connection

    Childhood. Memories tucked away in our minds. 

    Summer bike riding, playing outside until mealtime and jockeying for top place in neighborhood games. Saturdays at the movies. Swimming until yours fingers wrinkle. Drinking lemonade and hearing your stomach slosh when you run. Swinging so high you try to reach the sky. 

    June 15, 2014 3 Photos

  • photo.tif Relay brings families together

    When Joshua pastor Jerry Clements was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, one of the rarest of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, four years ago he said he was scared but he turned to God.

    June 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • PHOTO.tif Cleburne Pregnancy Center is blessed

    The Cleburne Pregnancy Center is moving towards the new age of technology and expanding their services.

    After the center’s ultrasound machine of three years stopped working, Executive Director Corliss Carr and Nurse Manager Cirrie Martin were on the search for a new machine.

    June 1, 2014 5 Photos

  • photo.tif Memorial Day tribute

    A father’s push for education, the deaths of both parents during his youth and an athletic entré to a college scholarship he turned down to join the Marines defined the early life of the late Milton David Hill.

    May 25, 2014 5 Photos

Front page
Latest CTR Videos
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Front page
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page
House Ads
Featured Ads
CTR Sports
Follow us on twitter