The Panhandle Players parted the curtain Sunday with a tease of the three plays that comprise its upcoming 2022-23 season.
With an adapted Christmas classic, an original play with bat maternity as one of its themes, and a musical, the season promises to be a zany affair, as only the Forgotten Coast’s community theater can present.
Auditions will be Oct. 9 and 10 for the first show of the season, which is an adaptation by local playwright Jerry Hurley of the 1947 Lux Radio Hour broadcast of the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”
The show, slated for performance Dec. 9 through 11 at the Chapman Theater in Apalachicola, localizes the setting of the story of the department store Santa who claims he’s the real Kris Kringle, with his case going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The second show of the season, set for Feb. 17 to 19, is an original play by local playwright John B. Spohrer, Jr. called “Sister Creatures.”
Spohrer told the kickoff event Sunday afternoon at the Chapman that he had been approached by the Panhandle Players to author a second play to follow up on his first one, “The Corruption of Harry Finley,” which debuted in March 2021.
“Could you give me some guidance on what kind of play you’d like to have?” asked Spohrer.
When told a comedy would be nice, and that the theater troupe often had a shortage of male actors to play the parts, Spohrer decided to go with two female leads. “This is something I know about, sisters,” he said. “I have two of them.”
He said he had carried around for 10 years a newspaper clipping about bats, and about how the bat maternity season between June 1 and Sept. 1 can affect property owners, as the animals cannot be disturbed as they roost.
And so “Sister Creatures” was born.
“It’s about two sisters with a bad boyfriend,” Spohrer said. “It was a joy writing it, and there’s nobody better than Judy Loftus to direct it.”
Auditions for that show are slated for mid-October.
The third and final show of the season will be a musical, an unusual departure from the Panhandle Players’ usual fare.
The show “Nunsense: The Mega-Musical” by Dan Goggins, will be directed by Nick Avossa, who made his debut last season overseeing a show with his work on “Sweet Tea at the B & B” by Hurley.
The musical is a spoof about the misadventures of five nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken, who are managing a fundraiser after their fellow members of the sisterhood perished from eating a bad batch of vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia, Child of God.
The remaining nuns – the ballet-loving Sister Leo, the streetwide Sister Robert Anne, the befuddled Sister May Amnesia, the Mother Superior Sister Regina and the mistress of the novices Sister May Hubert – stage a talent show to raise money to bury their dearly departed.
The show, which features catchy songs and irreverent comedy, is slated for April 21 to 23.
Renee Valentine, chairwoman of the Panhandle Players’ board, said the troupe also has plans to reprise its Facebook Live! Comedy night sometime in the later spring or early summer.
HEADLINE: How to be a part
The Panhandle Players are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) theater organization whose goal is to enrich, educate, and entertain the Forgotten Coast by providing community members with opportunities to engage in high-quality theatrical and cultural experiences. As a nonprofit, the Players rely on community support to continue to produce quality shows.
We encourage anyone in the community to join us, whether they are interested in acting, stage design, props, lighting, front of the house, or just plain having fun. The annual membership is $25 and includes a t-shirt that can be worn proudly.
For more information, reach out to Membership Chairman Jerry Hurley at [email protected], or visit panhandleplayers.com or on Facebook at Panhandle Players, Inc. The mailing address if Panhandle Players, P.O. Box 803, Apalachicola, Fl 32328.