‘Old Smokey’ gives audiences a Saturday night to remember

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Franklinton Community Theatre’s latest offering, “Saturday Night at Old Smokey,” is far from the stuffy experience some might associate with a night at the theater.

The 1010 Club in Franklinton, with its walls lined with vintage electric guitars and gold albums, provides the perfect setting for the show, which is musical if not a musical in the truest sense of the word. Characters often break out into song, but these are often short interludes, devoid of the grand choreography and musical accompaniment found in traditional musicals. The songs, mostly familiar gospel and country tunes, are woven in organically and do not detract from the flow of the production.

The stage itself is low and nearly juts out into the tables nearer the front, and before the show Producer Rod Sabitson encourages the audience to clap along with the music. The combined effect of all this, as well as the casual nature of the dinner that precedes the show, makes the show feel much more like a night out with a couple hundred of one’s closest friends than a traditional night at the theater.

The show itself fits the mood.

It is a show with heart and plenty of laughs that has a theme many in the area can get behind — the power of faith and family in the face of corporate intrusion. It concerns the efforts of a group of friends in eastern Tennessee to reopen a scenic country store that’s been in one of the character’s family for decades. It’s a play that takes someone with the right vision and actors with the right sensibilities to pull off.

During his introduction, Sabitson said, “This play has to have the right characters and the right director. And we got ‘em.”

Much like life itself, the show never lingers on one emotion too long, lithely dancing between somber and joyful, tragic and comic. As such, one leaves the venue with a satisfied feeling — and a full belly.

The show continues this weekend with performances on Aug. 8 and 9. Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. The show time is listed as 8 p.m., but on Saturday, it started closer to 7:40 p.m.

Tickets are $30 and include dinner and the show, and are available at Leader Printing and Magee Feed, Farmer & the Dell, in Franklinton and the Golden Pear restaurant in Bogalusa.

Parties of four or more require reservation.

For more information, call 985-848-5845.