Arts + Entertainment / Faces + Places / Lifestyle

A Sneak Preview of Temptations at the Theater

Imagine yourself next Wednesday evening. You might be returning home from another exhausting day at work. You’re already more than halfway through the week, but there are still two long days looming in the distance. You arrive home, greeted by your typical weekday evening and begin to wish there was a way you could spice things up a bit, do something out of the ordinary.  Sometimes you wonder, “can’t there just be one night where I can unwind?”

Well, let me offer you a little…temptation.

Next Wednesday, November 2nd at 6:30pm, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, The Playhouse, and Court Square Theater are pleased to present you with Temptations at the Theater, a night filled with gourmet treat samples, wine tastings, and dramatic theater. Allow yourself the opportunity to escape from your daily routine and indulge your senses at this once-yearly event that you can’t afford to miss. Leave your worries behind and join us for an evening of laughter, good conversation, drama, and sheer temptation.

Act I: The Hunger
Temptations at the Theater provides the opportunity to sample the innovative and diverse offerings of nearly 20 downtown restaurants. This year, options include an array of savories and sweets. Try something exotic like papad, spicy Indian crackers, from Indian American Café, Venezuelan appetizers from Arepera las Chamas, or hummus topped with Ethiopian butter from Blue Nile. Have a taste of decadence with the duck confit sandwiches on sweet potato rolls with pineapple chutney from the Joshua Wilton House or the smoked salmon gouda rolls with caviar from Finnigan’s Cove. And don’t forget dessert. Amongst the many options, there will be crème brulee from Dave’s Downtown Taverna, fried Oreos from Jack Brown’s and lavender, lemon, and coconut macaroons with white chocolate from Local Chop and Grill House. These are only a few of the many restaurants at the event so you’ll just have to come and see what else is in store.

Act II: The Thirst
With so many mouthwatering food tastings, we couldn’t leave you without a drink to accompany your treats. This year, Temptations at the Theater will feature samples of three very different yet extraordinary wines from Cave Ridge Vineyard. There will be a 2009 Chambourcin, a dry red with smoky, earthy aromas and hints of spice and fruit flavors. But if you prefer a white wine, you can try the 2009 Viognier, a crisp dry wine with flavors of pear and melon. Finally, there will be a La Petite Traminette to pair with your desserts, a light, sweet, tropical wine with .5% residual sugars. If you like what you try, you can purchase these wine by the glass at the Temptations cash bar. If you ever want to bring a bottle home with you, you can pick one up at Wine on Water and Downtown Wine and Gourmet in downtown Harrisonburg.

For those with a taste for specialty coffees, All Things Virginia will offer a selection of Cabin Creek Roaster’s finest. Guatemalan Medium Roast, Fully Monty Dark Roast, and Columbian Decaf will all be available to sample, as well as purchase by the cup and bag.

Act III: The Entertainment
Of course, the evening could not be complete without a show,  and this year, Temptations at the Theater features The Playhouse’s performance of “The Lion in Winter”, a dramatic comedy by James Goldman. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., directed by Tom Arthur, and starring Ted Swartz as Henry II, it is a rare opportunity you can’t pass up. “I hope people come out to the show because we don’t have something like this very often,” says Arthur. “Ted is Harrisonburg’s actor and it is a very special treat to see him.”

Arthur, professional director, former head of the Department of Theater and Dance at James Madison University, and long-term supporter of The Playhouse, tries to direct one or two productions at Court Square Theater every year. But he really believes that this upcoming production of The Lion in Winter is special, partly because it presents a chance to see his collaboration with Swartz. Swartz has played the lead role, Henry II, at Eastern Mennonite University before but really wanted to work with Arthur on the play. “The only reason I’m here directing this is because of Ted,” says Arthur. “Ted came to me and said, ‘we are both getting old and I need to do this with you now because I’m at the right age for the character. Let’s puts this on.’” And now, with a week before opening night, Arthur is very happy with the way the production has turned out. “It’s been a town collaboration and a gathering of people who all really like each other. It all started with Ted just saying, ‘Let’s do this.’ He is one of my best friends and he means a lot to me. Ted was a wonderful student and is now a splendid professional.”

Arthur also believes that “The Lion in Winter” is unique in the message it gives about embracing the arts and equality in the community. “The play asserts that Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine are indeed human beings despite being 12th-century rulers. They insisted on reading, writing, and intelligence, were backers of art and thought, and were the first ‘modern rulers’ because they were the first to give power to others and rule sensibly. They changed the way of running a kingdom.” Arthur believes that in today’s times, where power is unevenly distributed, we can learn from these two people. “By watching the play, we can see the importance of doing what is right, even if we have the power, and sharing the wealth.”

Arthur hopes that his role as a director and his involvement with local theater can make a difference and really touch people. “Working in downtown and with Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance for events [like Temptations at the Theater] is a way that I can do what I do [in a way] that benefits the community, and I like to see the various parts of the community come together.” He really believes that art has a transforming power and, in a town like Harrisonburg where there are so many ethnicities and cultures, art can bring people together and make a difference.

So if the opportunity to try a sampling of various downtown restaurant’s foods, taste local wines, and see an enlightening play that showcases the dynamic relationship between Tom Arthur and Ted Swartz sounds enticing to you, then don’t hesitate to give into the temptation. For more information on Temptations at the Theater and to learn how to buy tickets, visit the HDR website here. And if you can’t make it out for the event, you can still see “The Lion in Winter” at Court Square Theater on November 3-5 and 9-12 at 8:00pm and on November 6th and 13th at 3:00 pm. Visit the Court Square Theater’s website for ticket information.

So let the entertainment begin! We hope to see you there.

Katie George is the Promotions Intern for fall of 2011. She is a senior Media Arts & Design major at James Madison University.

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