The Temple Theatre is Sanford and Lee County's #1 Attraction, offering professional, community, and children's theatre to the area, as well as touring musical and theatrical groups. The Temple Theatre Professional Acting Company now produces nine Main Stage productions per season ranging from musicals to thought-provoking dramas.
Approximately 25,000 patrons will see the nine productions presented annually at the 81-year-old theatre. As such the Temple Theatre plays an integral part in the economic vitality, particularly downtown. Studies have determined that theatres such as the Temple contribute seven dollars to local economies for every dollar in their budgets. Using this formula, Temple’s budget of $450,000 contributes over $3 million annually to the local economy
However, without the dedication of several preservation minded folks in the early 1980s, this cultural jewel might have been lost forever. Built in 1925, the Temple Theatre was located less than half a block from the historic railroad depot and served as an entertainment stop for traveling shows and the stars of vaudeville. For several decades it functioned as Lee County's principal seat of amusement. After the death of vaudeville, Temple showed its versatility by becoming a touring house for the road shows of the 1930's (including a bit of burlesque), and then a movie theater, but in 1965 the Theatre closed its doors for fifteen years.
The rebirth of the Temple Theatre began in 1981 when Mr. Robert Ingram, Jr., the son of the theatre's original owner, donated the building to the citizens of Lee County. Through the efforts of many, the gutted and vandalized shell of Temple Theatre was designated a National Historic Site in 1983 and refurbished with both the comfort of the theatre patron and the performer in mind, reopening its doors in 1984.
The theatre itself is intimate, with 339 seats. There is even an old-fashioned orchestra pit, which can be covered to create a larger stage. Because it was designed for vaudeville, the acoustics are superb, and audience members have a good view of the stage from every seat.
For more information on the Theatre and a schedule of this year's shows, click on the link below.