The Lost Colony is the oldest outdoor drama in America. I was cast primarily as a Dancer (Native American Indian). During intermission, I took a shower and washed all the Mississippi Mud (dark red body makeup) off to change into a Settler.
Chorus – Dancer & Settler
Before Jamestown and Plymouth were founded, a group of about 120 men, women and children established one of the first English settlements in the New World on Roanoke Island in 1587. Shortly after arriving in this New World, colonist Eleanor Dare, daughter of Governor John White of the colony, gave birth to her daughter Virginia Dare. The governor’s granddaughter was believed to be the first English child born in North America.
Life on the island was difficult for the colonists. Low on supplies and facing retaliation from the Native Americans they had displaced, the colonists sent Governor White to England in the summer of 1587 for supplies. Because of the impending war with Spain, White was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived, he found no evidence of the colony. People believe the word “CROATOAN” was carved on a post. While some theories hold that the colonists died at the site, the fate of those first colonists remains a matter of scholarly debate.
Over 120 actors, technicians, designers and volunteers gather each spring to begin rehearsals to bring The Lost Colony to life for another summer season. The production is enormous. The stage itself is over three times larger than most Broadway stages in New York City. You will be seated in the center of the action with the show happening on three sides of you and even sometimes right next to you in the aisle.
Behind the Scenes Images
All these images were taken in 1989 (before cellphones) so the quality is not the best. I cut them up and put into a 3 ring binder. They are so old, I couldn’t remove them from the binder because they would start to tear. Sorry for the poor quality. Click on below images for larger version.
During the show, my big stunt was to do a high fall (30′) off the roof when a settler shot me with a bow and arrow. I fell into a net backstage. I did the stunt so well, they added it it to the Backstage Tour. I also worked as a Backstage Tour Guide during the day time for extra money. I learned even more detailed knowledge about the settlers.
During the run of the show, I severely injured my left ankle. Us Indians were doing a fertility dance and the settlers interrupt us at the high point. We were dancing in sand. All my weight was on my left leg (supporting leg) and I was swinging my right leg (working leg) from back attitude to front attitude as fast as possible.
I rolled over on my left ankle. Thankfully a bunch of other dancers helped me offstage. They said even though I was covered in Mississippi Mud (red body makeup to look like Indian), they could tell I was white as a ghost! I laid on the back deck with ice on my ankle until the show was over and they could take me to the hospital.
I was X-rayed at the hospital and it was only a very bad sprain. I was afraid it would be the end of my dancing career! Luckily, this was the only major injury I’ve had in my career – other than usual pulled muscle, soreness, strain, etc.
I was on crutches and out of the show for a couple of weeks. I sat in the back row and learned just how BIG everything has to be to read all the way to the back.
Video for 2020 Season
Andy Griffith is originally from North Carolina. His very first professional job was as Sir Walter Raleigh in The Lost Colony. Since the show was doing so well in the ratings, Andy insisted on doing the Season Opener at gorgeous locations as a Thank You to the hard working Crew.
We were all guaranteed to work 1 day on Matlock. I was able to finagle my way into 3 days. I don’t normally post about doing Background work, but this was my first time on tv.
William Ivey Long
William Ivey Long and his family are direct descendants of the original settlers. They have all worked on the show for many years. He comes back every summer to make sure the costumes are done right. He has won numerous Tony Awards for Best Costumes on Broadway.
Dana Ivey (no relation to William) is an excellent actress and has won many awards. She gave a workshop on acting and the realities of a life in the Arts. Very informative and blunt. One thing that has always stayed with me is her talking about the loneliness/isolation of pursuing an acting career.
To break up the monotony of doing the show for an entire summer, we also had a Talent Night and a musical. For the Talent Night, I sang “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera. There is a bad photo of me (in red shirt) singing in the above gallery. I had just sang it for my last jury at the U of Louisville School of Music to get my Minor in Music, so I knew it well.
My favorite performances (of others) during the Talent Show was an acoustic version of “Patience”
and dance performance of “Batdance” from Batman.
I auditioned and got into The Robber Bridegroom. We performed it during our off nights. I was cast in the Ensemble and played several different parts.
Most of the Lost Colony cast was surprised that I was cast as a Dancer, but could sing so well. Unfortunately, no video from any of these.
Thank you to Director Fred Chappell for casting me at Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) and giving me a chance. Thank you to all the rest of Cast and Crew. I look forward to working with you all again SOON!