Temple Theatre announces anniversary season lineup

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 05:03 AM

Whether audiences are in the mood for nostalgia or newer fare, the Temple Theatre is aiming to please and pay tribute to its past during its upcoming 30th anniversary season.  

The venue’s Artistic Director Peggy Taporn unveiled the titles in the 2013-14 lineup one by one during a gathering of the Temple ambassadors Tuesday. The list is a mix of beloved classics and lesser-known shows, Taphorn said — appropriate as the theater and the community celebrate the Temple’s three decades since reopening as a renovated venue while also looking to the future.

“I’m excited about all of them,” Taphorn said of the shows, adding that she anticipates an enthusiastic reception from the public as well.

“I think its enough title recognition that people will be drawn by that,” she said, and given the Temple’s track record, “They will know the caliber is going to be very high.”     

Following the theater’s summer youth conservatory sessions in July, during which students will put on a mash-up of “Grease” and “Cinderella” called “Ella!,” Temple will present “The Music Man” from Sept. 12-29.

In the theatre’s written season synopsis, the show is billed as “an affectionate look at Smalltown, U.S.A. of a bygone era” and a Broadway classic.

Referring to herself and other Temple affiliates, Taphorn said, “We did [the show] last spring with the N.C. Symphony, and it was a phenomenal hit.” She added that the Temple’s production will be a show that can involve a lot of local youth — and possibly area marching bands.

A story of female friendship follows with “Dixie Swim Club,” which will run from Oct. 17-Nov. 3. The production focuses on five North Carolina women and their bond that spans more than 30 years.

Besides being a touching comedy, Taphorn said, “the backdrop is beach music, which I think everyone will love.”

Due to the success of its recent show “Forever Plaid,” Taphorn said, the Temple will offer “Plaid Tidings” from Dec. 5-22.

That Christmas season slot has been occupied by “A Christmas Carol” in recent years, and Taphorn said the Temple will be taking a break from the popular production.

“The last ‘Christmas Carol’ was the best it’s been,” she said. “Ticket sales flatlined a little bit, so we’re going to mix it up.”

“Plaid Tidings” will be filled with Christmas standards, according to the season synopsis, and offer a holiday-themed encore for fans of The Plaids — a 50s-era quartet that was killed in a car accident but returned to earth for one final concert. 

The season continues with “Black Pearl Sings” from Jan. 16-Feb. 2, which chronicles the friendship of Susannah, a woman from a privileged family who is traveling the South recording folk songs and indigenous music, and Pearl, a woman she hears singing in a high-security Texas lockup. The two wind up walking a fine line between exposure and exploitation. 

“It’s poignant, funny, touching, “Taphorn said. “It’s a very deep piece of theater.”

“Smoke on the Mountain” is next from Feb. 20-March 9, which is the tale of a 1930s church gospel sing in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Audiences will experience more than two-dozen bluegrass tunes performed by the fictional Sanders Family, which in the show is returning to performance after a five-year hiatus.

The Temple will then change gears with “Sherlock Holmes and the Jersey Lily” from March 20-April 6, which Taphorn said will be filled with both laughter and suspense, as well as several twists and even a second-act swordfight. A character named Lillie Langtry is being blackmailed after letters she exchanged with the Prince of Wales are stolen, and Sherlock Holmes is on the case.

“It’s funny,” Taphorn said, “but it’s a great mystery.”     

The season will close with “Grease” from April 24-May 11, which Taphorn called “a perennial favorite.” She said the Temple has options for how it will approach the production, which follows the Rydell High class of 1959, but patrons can expect the liveliness and rock-and-roll inspired standards for which the musical is known. 

Assessing the lineup as a whole, Temple Marketing and Development Director Chris deLambert said, “I think it’s well balanced. You’ve got good dramas, good musicals; you’ve got some shows that are really well known, and you also have a couple of titles that are a little more obscure. The whole mood here at the theater is exciting.”

While Taphorn will be directing some of the shows herself, she said up to four former Temple artistic directors will be returning to play roles in the anniversary season — which is fitting as the venue pays homage to its history.

“I think our 30th anniversary is going to be better than anything we’ve seen so far,” Taphorn said.