TCT names Tolleson to full-time post
Longtime Temple HS theater head is Temple Civic Theatre's new managing artistic director
Natasha Tolleson, longtime director of Temple High School’s theater department, has been named managing artistic director of Temple Civic Theatre. Although she doesn’t start her new position until July, she’s pulled double duty for the past month, working on end-of-year programs for Temple ISD and directing the TCT production of Steel Magnolias. Tolleson’s hiring and the release of the 2022-23 season lineup were announced Saturday at Santa Fe Plaza. David Stone photo
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Natasha Tolleson is stepping down May 29 after 31 years of directing plays, programs and productions at Temple High School, but plans for rest and relaxation are going to have to wait a few years. She starts a new career July 5.
After a nationwide search that netted 25 applicants and more than a dozen in-person interviews, Temple Civic Theatre has selected Tolleson as its new managing artistic director.
“I’m very excited,” Tolleson said today. “I will be directing plays and managing TCT’s day-to-day operations. That means working with volunteers, growing our membership and getting more people involved. We have a great season lineup next season, and I’m anxious to get started.”
Tolleson’s new position is full time and she will office at the theatre.
“This process started in August,” said Ruby Jett, president of the Temple Civic Theatre’s board of governors. “Gary Gosney was our outgoing president, and he assigned a selection committee to start looking for a new managing artistic director. We haven’t had one in about a decade, and the board agreed that it was time.”
“Originally, Natasha was on the search committee, but she eventually decided to apply for the position,” Jett said. “We received about 25 applicants, and most were very qualified. The applications came from everywhere — Mexico, New York, everywhere.”
“We were so excited when Natasha applied,” Jett said. “We are very familiar with her work, and with her in the running, we knew we would get someone special. We conducted a lot of interviews with some wonderful candidates.”
“Hiring Natasha was a consensus choice of the committee and the board of governors,” Jett said. “Her resume is extensive and she has a well documented history of producing outstanding work in this very space. This is a challenging theatre, and her familiarity is a benefit. As an educator, she offered her students the opportunity to grow. We are excited she will be doing that here.”
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Natasha moved to Temple from Greenville, Miss., in 1989 when her husband, Richard, took a job as a TV weatherman at a Central Texas station. She immediately joined the Temple Civic Theatre, and she soon landed a role in Boys Next Door.
Two years later, she went to work as a theater teacher at Temple High.
“Our first musical was West Side Story,” she said. She would direct dozens of other productions over the year and rack up some impressive hardware along the way.
In UIL One-Act Play competitions, her teams have won state championships twice — Ruthless in 2007 and Bug in 2016 — and have been named District Champion for 30 consecutive years, including 2022.
Natasha’s students have entered UIL Theatrical Design competition every year and won the state championship in group design in 2008 and 2014.
In the first year of the UIL Film Contest, her students won another state title.
In 2018, Natasha was named Educator of the Year by the Texas Education Theatre Association. In 2011, she was named one of the Top 15 UIL Sponsors in Texas, and in 2014 she was inducted into the Texas Thespians Hall of Fame.
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The 2022-23 TCT season will feature 10 productions, including four youth shows.
“We have a very engaging lineup this next season,” she said. “This will be a great opportunity for young people to get involved in theater. Two of the four youth shows are workshops where they will learn about theater, rehearse for a week and put on a show.”
The new season will include six main-stage productions, including a mystery, two comedies and three musicals, plus the four youth shows. SEE STORY BELOW.
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In addition to hiring Tolleson, the Temple Civic Theatre board also brought in Rob Coward in January as a technical director.
“He’s a full-time employee, and he does so much for us,” Jett said. “He has completely reorganized the light racks, and he works on sound as well. He also builds sets.”
Natasha Tolleson gives direction to the Steel Magnolias cast during a rehearsal earlier this month. She directed the most recent TCT production, and starting next season she will be the community theatre’s full-time director. David Stone photo
Temple Civic Theatre president Ruby Jett and most recent past president Gary Gosney visit during Saturday’s reveal party at the Santa Fe Depot. The event was held at the depot to set the tone for TCT’s 2022-23 season, which opens with Murder on the Orient Express. The Reveal party featured a choral performance of five songs from past TCT productions and five songs from next season’s lineup. David Stone photo
SATURDAY/SUNDAY | MAY 21-22
TCT’S 2022-23 season to feature 10 productions
Here’s a glimpse at the 2022-23 Temple Civic Theatre season:
Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express: Sept. 30-Oct. 2 and Oct. 6-9 — Famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is travelling on the Orient Express in 1934 when a murder is committed. The victim was a particularly obnoxious man with a criminal past. As clues are revealed, it is apparent that many of the other passengers on the train had a motive to kill him, making Poirot's task of identifying the murderer much more difficult.
Elf, the Musical: Dec. 9-11 and Dec. 15-18, 2022 —Elf the Musical is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner Elf.
Love/Sick: Feb. 17-19 and Feb. 23-26, 2023 — A darker cousin to Almost, Maine, John Cariani’s LOVE/SICK is a collection of nine slightly twisted and completely hilarious short plays. Set on a Friday night in an alternate suburban reality, this 80-minute romp explores the pain and the joy that comes with being in love. Full of imperfect lovers and dreamers, LOVE/SICK is an unromantic comedy for the romantic in everyone.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: April 14-16 and April 20-23, 2023 — An eclectic group of sixth-graders arrives at the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, each eager to win for very different reasons. Sweet and shy Olive brings only her best friend (the dictionary) with her to the bee; bold and hyperallergic speller William Barfee uses his “magic foot” to propel him to greatness; former champion Chip is struggling with his burgeoning puberty; easily distracted Leaf is unconvinced that he’s smart enough to be a challenger; overachiever Marcy is disappointed by her consistent success; and politically aware Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre only wants to impress her gay dads. In hilarious, touching, and catchy songs, each speller reveals his/her hopes, struggles, and passions as they make their way through the competition. With an engaging, tuneful score by William Finn and a sweet, funny book by Rachel Sheinkin, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee causes audiences to fall in love, both with the show itself and its “perspicacious,” “jocular,” and “effervescent” spellers.
The Play that Goes Wrong: June 2-4 and June 8-11, 2023 — The Play That Goes Wrong begins before the curtain has even been raised, as the audience are present while the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society prepare to stage their new production – the 1920s murder mystery 'Murder at Haversham Manor'. However the set is not yet complete and there is no time to finish it off…..the show must go on!
With a murder (and a moving corpse) established from the beginning, the murder mystery gets into full flow. However, the props start to disappear, actors go missing and the set begins to collapse around, and often on, the cast. Mayhem ensues, the acting gets worse, and the set becomes increasingly dangerous, but the company struggle on regardless. The question is whether any of the cast and crew will remain standing, or conscious, by the final curtain?!
The Spongebob Musical: July 28-30 and Aug. 3-6, 2023 — The stakes are higher than ever in this dynamic stage musical, as SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage. The power of optimism really can save the world!
The SpongeBob Musical is based on the beloved animated series created by Stephen Hillenburg and features a book by Kyle Jarrow, with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alexander Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I., and songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley
TCT YOUTH SERIES
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Oct. 14-16, 2022 — In a small town named Sleepy Hollow, a gangly schoolteacher named Icabod Crane comes to town. Despite his unattractive appearance, he quickly proves to be a ladies man who charms the local beauty, much to the local tough, Brom Bones', displeasure. A subtle rivalry erupts, only to have Crane continually gaining the upper hand. The situation changes when Brom learns of Crane's superstitions and exploits them as he musically tells the legend of the fearsome Headless Horseman to frighten the teacher. That night, Crane's lonely night ride home becomes more lively than he ever imagined as the Horseman appears to chase him.
Disney's Madagascar Jr: Feb. 3-5 and Feb. 9-12, 2023 — Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto your stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr., follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin' friends as they escape from their home in New York's Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien's Madagascar.
Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends - Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo - have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public and with regular meals provided for them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape - with the help of some prodigious penguins - to explore the world.
Seussical KIDS: March 17-18, 2023 — A musical perfect for the whole family, Seussical JR (performed by ages 4 to 18) takes us into the world of Dr. Seuss, where we revisit beloved characters including The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, and JoJo. The Cat in the Hat guides us into The Jungle of Nool where we see Horton, the kind-hearted elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whoville. He meets JoJo, a Who child reprimanded for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton decides he must protect the speck of dust on a nearby clover, while at the same time protecting an abandoned egg left to his care by the lazy Mayzie la Bird. Horton tries to convince the other animals in The Jungle of the existence of the Whos, but he is ridiculed and put on trial for insanity. Only his loyal neighbor, Gertrude McFuzz, never loses faith in him and eventually, the two fall in love. Seussical JR weaves a story of friendship, loyalty, and love. Despite all odds, Horton and Gertrude band together to save the Whos, free Horton, and restore peace and unity to the Jungle of Nool. Seussical JR teaches us the power of being unique, and the importance of fighting for your beliefs.
Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr: Aug. 18-20, 2023 — Beautiful mermaid Ariel should be a happy girl -- she lives in an enchanted undersea country, her father is a King, and she has the most beautiful singing voice. But she is a passionate, headstrong teenager, and wants what she cannot have -- to live on land. When she falls in love with a handsome human prince, Ariel is more determined than ever to gain a pair of legs. But her only option is to defy her furious father, and bargain with Ursula the Sea Witch, giving her voice as the price of entry onto dry land. With the help of Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull, and officious court composer Sebastian the crab, Ariel must wordlessly gain Prince Eric's love within three days -- or lose her soul to the ambitious witch! Based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, and the wildly popular Disney film, this musical staging of The Little Mermaid features a funny and fanciful book by Doug Wright, with the beloved score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Glenn Slater in an expanded but completely faithful form, featuring the rambunctious and persuasive “Under the Sea,” the romantic expectation of “Kiss the Girl,” and that anthem to longing and belonging, “Part of Your World.”
Tickets for the upcoming season are on sale now to TCT members. Contact Martha Satterwhite, office manager, at (254) 778-4751. All season tickets go on sale in September.
Guys & Dolls auditions begin this weekend for TCT’s 2021-22 finale
Auditions for the final show of the current Temple Civic Theatre season — Guys & Dolls — start Sunday, May 22, and conclude Monday. The production will be live on the TCT stage July 22-24, July 28-31 and Aug. 4-7.
Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, Guys & Dolls is an oddball romantic comedy. Gambler, Nathan Detroit, tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck; meanwhile, his girlfriend and nightclub performer, Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for fourteen years. Nathan turns to fellow gambler, Sky Masterson, for the dough, and Sky ends up chasing the straight-laced missionary, Sarah Brown, as a result.
Guys & Dolls takes us from the heart of Times Square to the cafes of Havana, Cuba, and even into the sewers of New York City, but eventually everyone ends up right where they belong.
Tickets and showtimes are available at templecivictheatre.com.
Saturday’s best bets
The brand new Downtown Temple Foodie Tour stops at three different downtown restaurants for a taste! Stops include La Dalat - Vietnamese Cuisine done American Style, Mexiko Café - Korean Mexican Fusion, and Ras Kitchen - Jamaican Cuisine! At each stop, tourists will receive a sampling of the restaurant's favorite dishes and get to hear about the establishment and its story. The tour takes off from Corky’s (13 South Second Street). Walk the tour or use a Tour Temple scooter beginning at 2 p.m. Pricing is $25 per person and is all-inclusive! This is a special event that you do not want to miss! Grab your tickets now because space is limited!
Rage on the Farm, 5432 Cedar Creek Road in Temple. 5 p.m. to midnight. $10. Live bands, vendors, camping.
Market in the Vines at 3 Texans Winery & Tasting Room. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a walk through the vines and shop with more than 50 vendors!
Movies in the Park at Miller Park. Spider-man: No Way Home. Grab your blankets, lawn chairs, family and friends for a free Saturday Movie in the Park. Festivities kick off at 6:30 pm. Movies start at sundown. For more information, visit templeparks.com
Texas Red's Game Show Night. Free! Fire Base Brewing. 7:30 p.m.
Tracy Lawrence with Jarrod Birmingham at Schoepf’s. Gates open at 6, music at 7.
Comedy Showcase at Corky’s. Doors open at 7, show at 8.
Sunday’s best bets
Margarita Madness at Corky’s. 2-6 p.m.
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!
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