The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, July 28, 1992, Image 3
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RIN HILL/ The Battalion
Tuesday, July 28, 1992
Of Baptist choirs in North Carolina...
"Smoke" an entertaining revival
By Anas Ben-Musa
"Smoke on the Mountain"
Written by Alan Bailey
Starring Steven De Korne, M.A. Sterling, Christina Vela O'Conner, Jessi
ca Lowe, Jenny Barbour
Directed by Robert Wenck
Playing at Rudder Forum, tickets available at Rudder Box Office
MSC Summer Dinner Theater's production of Alan Bailey's "Smoke
on the Mountain" is an appetizing morsel of music and comedy.
Poking fun at the Baptist religion, "Smoke on the Mountain" is set in
a small Baptist church in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina. The year is
Pastor Mervin Oglethorpe, played by Steven De Korne, invites the
Sanders clan, a local family known for their singing, to perform a con
cert at the church to bring the congregation into the 20th century. That's
about it for plot.
On a whole, the narrative is rather vague and surprisingly unimpor
Throughout the play, the Sanders family sings many spiritual songs.
"Smoke" makes up for its lack of plot and story with a sensational cast
of singers and some wonderfully humorous songs.
On "I'll Never Die (I'll Just Change My Address)," Denise Sanders,
played by Kristi Cobern, does a rendition of Michelle Pfieffer's "Fabu
lous Baker Boys" piano scene. Of course, her family is horrified by her
lewd behavior and tries to cover up the situation.
Director Robert Wenck creates an atmosphere that allows the audi
ence to familiarize themselves with the characters.
In "Smoke," the audience is the church congregation. Each character
talks directly to the audience and sometimes interacts with them.
Coificidentally, Wenck directed the last MSC Dinner Theater pro
duction, "Talley's Folly." He used the same familiarization method in
the beginning of "Talley" to introduce the characters.
Throughout the play, the pastor and Vera Sanders, portrayed by
Christina Vela O'Conner, compete against one another. Each time
someone quotes from the Bible, the pastor and Vera try to out due each
other by stating where the quotes are from.
Yet, the best scene of the play is Vera's witness in the second act. She
begins to describe humanity as a june bug flying around aimlessly.
But, with a string attached (Jesus Christ) to the bug, it can be held
DARRIN HILL/The Battalion
Heath Allyn and M.A. Sterling sing “Meet Mother in the Skies,” with the rest of the Sanders Family in the background, played by Mike
Whiteside, Christina Vela O’Conner, Kristi Cobern, and Stephanie White.
down and fly in circles around God's head. Immediately, after Vera
shows that bug flying around her head in circles as Baptists do around
God's head, the bug falls on her arm and Vera goes crazy. She slaps it
away and begins to stomp on the poor insect.
These scenes leave the audience rolling down the pews.
Furthermore, the musical harmony of the whole family was extraor
dinary. M.A. Sterling, who plays the father of the family, was also the
Music Director of the play. Sterling did a wonderful job spicing up the
Perhaps the only fault of the play is its length. Wenck should have
cut out at least one or two songs in each act. After a certain point, I felt
the play was trying to convert the audience rather then entertain.
Yet, this was a minor flaw. The MSC Dinner Theater's "Smoke on the
Mountain" delivers some delicious music and comedy. Get your hand
kerchiefs out because you will be crying with laughter.
Tickets are available at the Rudder Box Office. For information, call
845-1234. The play finishes this Sunday.
Bargains abound for savvy summer traveler
By Tricia Martinez
Community residents are taking over the sky
this summer as air fare wars rage. Lower rates this
summer make traveling to exotic places affordable
and has considerably increased competition be
tween travel agencies.
Sonya Bruce, travel agent for Executive Travel,
said the summer began with a bang when airlines
lowered their rates in late May.
"People were coming out of the woodwork,"
Bruce said. "People who have never flown before
decided they were going to fly. It was just crazy."
"We were working 10 to 11 hour days seven
days a week," she said.
The airlines lowered their rates around May 25,
and did not raise them back to regular prices until
Mitzie Bryant, co-owner of Dog Gone Travel, de
scribed the situation as "hell-week."
"We could not answer the phones and we had to
lock the doors to keep people out because we ran
out of room," Bryant said. "I have my phones trans
ferred to my home and the phone started ringing at
5 a.m. It was a disaster."
Some travel agencies said it was one of the best
summer sale ever as agencies sold up to 10 times the
usual amount of air tickets.
Bryant said people were traveling everywhere
and anywhere they could get tickets.
Regardless of the hassles and people flocking
into the agencies sending the agents into hysteria
one thing is still continuing to happen — traveling.
Brewer, who handles group travel, tries to target
students. Brewer said Mexico was the most popular
place to go among college students this summer.
"It's cheap and they have'b good time," Brewer
said. "We offer packages for all budgets, so there is
usually something in there the students can afford."
Many of the agencies attempt to really cater to
their customers by searching for a better deal when
they hear someone is offering a trip at a lower price.
"If someone comes in and says they can get a
better deal somewhere else I try my best to match it
or beat it," Brewer said. "I try to go the extra mile
and find a great deal."
Brewer said more business circulates through
the agencies during the summer than any other time
of year because children are out of school and most
people want to travel during summer months.
Guin Kesner, travel consultant for Aggieland
Travel Inc., said a Cancun vacation was the most
popular trip they sold.
Kesner said she is disappointed in the airlines
because they don't work as much with the cus
tomers since the price cuts.
"Most airlines have now discontinued senior cit
izens rates, will not refund tickets," Kesner said. "It^
could have been handled better by the airlines."
Brewer skid other popular vacation sites this
summer are Disneyland, Disneyworld and Las Ve
"Families are the main ones going to the Disney
land and Disneyworld," Brewer said. "Parent know
they can take their kids there and have a great
Middle age vacationers, on the other hand, tend
to venture off toward Las Vegas for the gambling,
scene, while many of the area singles hit South
"We don't just deal with air fare," Brewer said.
"We set up hotel reservations, car rentals and any
other accommodation we can."
Kesner said that cruises and Europe were very
big this summer, especially with lower rates offered.
"People enjoy the cruise because everything is
included in your package except for alcoholic bever
ages/' Kesner said.
"Europe was more popular than usual this
year," she said. "It's harder to get in to Europe this
year with the Olympics going on, where as last year
people were scared to go due to the war. You just
never know what's going to happen next to make
people want to go or stay away from some place."
The three agencies want students to use them,
but they don't necessarily cater to them at all times.
Bryant and Kesner's agencies decided against
setting up a package for the Pigskin Classic because
they did not feel it would be utilized. Brewer, on
the other hand, did her homework and came up
With a package that appealed to 90 Agjgfes.
"It should be a lot of fun," Brewer said. "Group
rates are always lower and so many people wanted
to go on the trip and there wasn't enough room for
everyone. I felt bad , but I had to turn people
Turning people away is only one of many draw
backs the agents face. They deal constantly with the
public and undergo public abuse regularly.
"Even though we are not at fault if something
goes wrong with the trip, the customer doesn't go to
the airlines or the hotel managers, they come to us,"
All agents agreed that there is another side —
benefits. Those include discounted air fares and
even free trips for major bookings. Some of the
agents saidthey are traveling somewhere to relax at
least once a month .
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Are you currently taking Prozac' ,> to treat your depression?
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STUDY ABROAD PRESENTS...
for Details come to one of our
Wed., July 29
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
at 251 Bizzell Hall West
Study Abroad Program Office 161 Bizzell Hall West 845-0544
is awesome. Freebirds is
the best thins to happen
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One in a series of real live customer testimonials...
319 UNIVERSITY DRIVE NORTHGATE