Steel Magnolias coming to TCT
Temple theater icon Natasha Tolleson to direct production
Rod Coward and Natasha Tolleson take a break on the stage at Temple Civic Theatre. Tolleson is directing the upcoming production of Steel Magnolias and Coward is the technical director. The show debuts May 6. David Stone photo
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Steel Magnolias, a true treasure of American theater, opens at Temple Civic Theatre on May 6 for a seven-show run.
The production is being directed by another treasure — Natasha Tolleson, head of the Temple High School theatre arts department and a part of local community theater for 32 years. She has directed greatness at THS for decades.
“I’ve been active with Temple Civic Theatre since 1990,” Tolleson said. “That’s when I did my first show — The Boys Next Door. I have been acting and directing here for years. Right before the COVID shutdown I was directing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. That was in February 2020, right before the pandemic.”
Despite her busy schedule at Temple High School — she has been there for 31 years and has led her students to numerous state titles and 30 consecutive One-Act Play district titles — Tolleson finds the time to direct productions at Temple Civic Theatre.
“I try to direct a show every year at TCT and sometimes I do two,” she said, smiling. Tolleson will be stepping down from her Temple High position in May.
Steel Magnolias — the Temple Civic Theatre version — will star Ashlee Boyd as Truvy, Kehly Trojan as Annelle, Eve Raine as Clairee, Miriam Kellar as Shelby, Regina Corley as M’Lynn and Mary Anzalone as Oiser.
Rod Coward is the show’s technical director and Brian Joyce is the stage manager.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of Steel Magnolias, a play Robert Harling wrote just months after his sister, Susan, died of complications from diabetes.
“Steel Magnolias is based on a true story about the playwright’s sister,” Tolleson said. “It’s a fun, heartwarming tale about female friendship that is true to life.”
Written as a tribute to the strength of his sister, his mother, and the women who supported them, the work broke records at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Manhattan, an off-Broadway theater house where it ran almost three years. Steel Magnolias has since been performed in dozens of countries, including Sweden, South Africa, India, South Korea and Japan.
Less than a year into the play’s run, producer Ray Stark bought the film rights, and in 1988 it was made into a movie starring Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah.
Steel Magnolias is set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, La., where all the ladies who are “anybody” come to have their hair done. Helped by her assistant, Annelle, the outspoken and often wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoo and free advice to the town’s rich curmudgeon Ouiser, eccentric millionaire Clairee, social leader M’Lynn, and M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby, who is about to marry one of Chinquapin’s “good ol’ boys.”
The play takes a turn toward tragedy when Shelby — a diabetic — risks pregnancy and her life. The sudden realization of their mortality affects the others, but also draws on the underlying strength—and love—which give the play, and its characters, the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and amiable company in good times and bad.
Because Boyd and Trojan will actually be working on the hair of other cast members during the show, Tolleson has brought in a real pro as a consultant — Wanda Gregory.
Gregory was a stylist for Broadway shows for many years.
“I worked on more than 25 shows on Broadway,” she said recently. “Fiddler on the Roof, Guys and Dolls, Tommy … I was part of some really big shows.”
While in the Big Apple, Gregory also was one of three hair stylists at Saturday Night Live.
Since Tolleson has been such a vital part of Temple’ theater community for more than 30 years, past experiences often resurface.
“I haven’t directed any of the women in Steel Magnolias before, but sometimes I get to work with a former student 20 years after I first directed them in high school,” she said. “I never stop being a teacher — I’m a teaching director even at TCT.”
For showtimes and to purchase tickets to Steel Magnolias, visit templecivictheatre.com.
TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2022
Celebrate National Pretzel Day
Our Town Temple
The pretzel. Soft and chewy or hard and crunchy, it’s one of America’s favorite snacks. While it may not have reached the celebratory status of the nacho here in Texas, it’s still a good occasion to indulge.
Today is National Pretzel Day, and at least one Temple business is pushing the beloved pretzel to the forefront. Corky’s Wine & Beer is celebrating with a soft pretzel and a cold draught beer for 7 bucks from 4 to 8 p.m.
While pretzels aren’t quite legendary in these parts, that can’t be said for some parts of the country. In Pennsylvania — the birthplace of the American pretzel — the average person eats 12 times the national pretzel average. I’m not exactly sure how that number was calculated.
There are a few different accounts of the origin of the pretzel. Most people agree that it has a Christian background, and they were developed by the monks.
According to The History of Science and Technology, in 610 AD, “an Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, pretiola (little rewards).”
Another source puts the invention in a monastery in southern France. The looped pretzel may also be related to a Greek Ring bread from the communion bread used in monasteries a thousand years ago.
The Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants introduced pretzels to North America in the 19th century. At this time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated central Pennsylvania, and their popularity quickly spread. In the 20th century, soft pretzels became very popular in areas such as Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York.
National Pretzel Day began in 2003 when Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declared April 26th “National Pretzel Day” to acknowledge the importance of the pretzel to the state’s history and economy.
Eat with the Leopards! Burgers and baseball set for lunch Wednesday at TC sports complex
Our Town Temple
Two of the better things in life — burgers and baseball — come together Wednesday at Temple College.
The Temple College Alumni Association will host Leopard Fest — a lunch-hour hamburger sale and baseball game — from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Danny Scott Sports Complex.
A hamburger, chips and drink meal will be sold for $10 and proceeds will benefit Leopard athletic programs. That price also includes two chances to win prizes.
For those who like a little small-ball with their burger, Temple College will be hosting Weatherford College at noon.
Prizes will include a $20 gift card to Blaze Pizza, a free one-hour massage at Myo Massage, movie passes to Cinemark and Grand Avenue theaters, and a free small item at Jeremiah’s Italian ice.
For more information about this event, contact Clarissa Martinez at (254) 298-8767 or email Temple College at Alumni@templejc.edu.
To include your events in What’s Happening, email information to OurTownTemple@gmail.com. Photos are welcome to for use in the publication as space permits!
TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2022
What was Temple’s biggest grocery store in the 1890s? ANSWER IS AT END OF TODAY’S ISSUE
On this day in 1968, PFC Milton Lee was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in action in Vietnam. After attending Harlandale High School in San Antonio, Lee enlisted in the army. He arrived in Vietnam in January 1968. On April 26 of that year, near Phu Bai, South Vietnam, he was serving as radio and telephone operator when his platoon came under intense fire. Lee rendered lifesaving first aid while under heavy enemy fire. During a subsequent assault on the enemy position he saw four enemy soldiers, armed with automatic weapons and a rocket launcher, lying in wait for the platoon. He passed his radio to another soldier, charged through heavy fire, overran the enemy position, and killed all the occupants. He continued his assault on a second enemy position. Though mortally wounded, he delivered accurate covering fire until the platoon destroyed the enemy position. Only then did he die of his wounds. The Medal of Honor was presented to his grandmother and guardian, Mrs. Frank B. Campion, by President Richard M. Nixon at the White House on April 7, 1970.
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On this day in 1861, 500 Federal troops stranded at the port of Saluria in Calhoun County were forced to surrender to Confederate colonel Earl Van Dorn. Saluria, at the eastern end of Matagorda Island, was founded in the 1840s and was a thriving port and ranching center in the 1850s. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Federal troops flocked to the coast, hoping to find transport to the North. Van Dorn intercepted 500 of them at Saluria. After being paroled, they were allowed to sail for New York. During the federal blockade of 1862, when invasion seemed imminent, Saluria inhabitants fled to the mainland. Confederate troops stationed at nearby Fort Esperanza later burned the town, dismantled the lighthouse, and drove most of the cattle off the island. Confederate artillerymen defended the fort until November 29, 1863, when they retreated to the mainland. In June 1864 Federal troops left Fort Esperanza. Afterward, citizens began moving back to the island. What finally destroyed Saluria was hurricanes, in 1875 and 1886. By 1904 a rural school with one teacher and seven students was the only vestige of the community. The more famous nearby port of Indianola was similarly destroyed.
OurTownTemple@gmail.com | (254) 231-1574
TODAY’S TEMPLE TRIVIA ANSWER: RL McKnight’s Grocery opened in 1892 and quickly became the town prominent grocer.