BRANSON – Some of Elizabeth Kelley’s earliest and best memories are of singing old Gospel songs with her family.
“I remember going with my parents to a nursing home,” she said. “They would get to pick a hymn and we would sing it. Those songs are so special.”
Now she gets to relive those memories and make new one as one of Branson’s newest performers. Kelley plays Denise Sanders, one of the roles in “Smoke on the Mountain,” a Southern Gospel musical comedy set at a small, country Baptist church in 1938. The shows runs six shows a week – Tuesday through Saturday with two shows on Wednesday – at the the Little Opry Theatre in Branson’s IMAX Entertainment Complex.
Though she grew up singing in churches as a pastor’s daughter, the acting bug didn’t bite Kelley until her early 20s. She acted in a few plays while living and working at her day job in St. Louis – including a production of Smoke on the Mountain.
“I really feel in love with the show,” she said, “and its concept and message. It shows that God can be powerful in a lot of different ways. One of the quotes from the show is ‘God’s power is loud like thunder,’ but it can be soft too if we just listen. That says it all. His power is displayed through comedy and beautiful hymns. It definitely appeals to my roots and the hymns I grew up on, and it’s fun to add in the comedy. I feel like God has a very good sense of humor, and this show brings all that together.”
When the opportunity to audition for the year-long contract with the Branson show, she took a leap of faith and won the part.
“I took a chance and here I am!” Kelley said.
For more information on the show, go to www.bransonimax.com. Tickets are $33.75.