The favorite pastime in Splendora, a small East Texas town, is gossip. People were still talking about outcast Timothy John Coldridge—who ran away fifteen years ago and was never heard from again—until Miss Jessica Gatewood came to town. The exotic and beautiful Miss Jessie, a lady of Victorian bearing and lofty literary ideals, was hired to run the county bookmobile. As if she wasn't enough to talk about on her own, she moved into the very house in which Timothy John once lived with his grandmother. Miss Jessie's refined ways and charismatic civic pride captivates the entire town, particularly Brother Leggett, but leaves Sue Ella Lightfoot slightly suspicious. When Miss Jessie and Leggett begin working together on the courthouse restoration project, inspiring others to make Splendora a better place to live, Sue Ella begins to figure out Jessie's secret. Paying a visit to the town's newest, most popular citizen, Sue Ella tells her that she knows Miss Jessica Gatewood is really Timothy John Coldridge, but Sue Ella vows she'll keep the secret. Miss Jessie, thankful, confides that she's fallen in love with Leggett and is assured that Sue Ella understands. Feeling confident, the Timothy John side of Miss Jessie becomes more forceful, almost careless. At a fund raising event, Jessie is crowned Miss Crepe Myrtle, and stunned, is asked to name her Cavalier—Leggett—who proposes to her on the spot. Jessie runs off and the battle of wills explodes in Jessie/Timothy John's mind—and Timothy John wins. When Leggett finds Timothy John and not Jessie, he realizes the truth which sends him into a religious fit forcing Timothy John to run him off. Agonized and feeling the way he did fifteen years ago, Timothy John vows to destroy the painful memories and sets his house on fire. With the house up in flames, Sue Ella rushes over to find Timothy John unharmed, as does Leggett, fearing he's caused Timothy John's death. The two realize they are meant to be together, but, as Sue Ella wisely points out, not in Splendora, so she helps the two escape and blames Miss Jessie's disappearance on the tragic fire.
Based on the 1978 novel by Edward Swift. Winner of the prestigious Richard Rodgers Production Award (the largest given in its fifteen-year history). SPLENDORA was first presented by the Bay Street Theatre and subsequently at the American Place Theatre in New York City. "SPLENDORA is a brave new musical…a most remarkable show." —NY Times. "SPLENDORA boasts…the only thing I've heard in a new musical this season that could be called music…" —Village Voice.