[Theater Review] ‘The Lost Colony’ 2013 Season Opens [Photo Gallery]
Opening Night of the 2013 season of The Lost Colony is tonight, and OBXentertainment.com was at last night’s final dress rehearsal of the longest running outdoor symphonic drama in America to bring you the following review and photo gallery!
Directed this year by Ira David Wood III, the 76th production of The Lost Colony is an exciting adventure through the earliest history of our country and the defining moments of these Outer Banks.
The opening ritual sequence shows off the sleek athletic bodies of the Native Americans, effectively introduced entirely by their striking dance movements, to the sound of beating drums that evoke an early tension foreshadowing what’s to come.
Back in England, Sir Walter Raleigh, played by Jason Linforth, is a celebrity, full of vision and drive, but the unfortunate lack of means to achieve his dreams on his own, forcing him to play his part in the Queen’s political game.
Eric Wilson Hurley is a riot as Old Tom, but he also gets the most unexpectedly tender solo in the play, a quiet ode to Roanoke Island that gives Tom much deeper resonance than just the anticipated comedic relief.
Robbie McCracken’s John Borden growls his speeches in epic fashion, stepping up after a tragic death within the group to lead them and keep their fading moral from completely burning out, while Abby Sheridan’s Eleanor Dare is the broken but hopeful heart of the colony.
As the Roanoke Island native warrior Wanchese, Christopher Manns is fittingly scary, especially when he dons his white war paint for the climactic battle sequence, but it’s his physical expressions of the inner emotional pain at having watched his brother killed by the white men that will leave you haunted.
Played by Alex Bryant, Manteo remains a quiet, often unsung hero who, like Borden, must rise up to face his ultimate threat not through want or desire, by because he has no other choice.
When the Native Americans attack Fort Raleigh, chaos reigns across the stage, as fires burn, women scream and cry, children flee in fear, and arrows seemingly fly right past your head, thanks to effective use of the Waterside Theatre’s surround sound system. The choreographed fights are as good as anything you’ll see in a blockbuster movie this year, and the swelling recorded soundtrack heard just under the live sounds of battle adds fuel to the action.
The most violent moments in the play are often juxtaposed with the more celebratory events of the colonists, none more grand than the much anticipated birth of England’s first child in the New World, baby Virginia Dare.
Again, the cinematic music in the background combined with the swirling dancers perfectly convey the symbolic magnitude of what this birth truly must have meant to the colonists, as Virginia Dare was the ultimate symbol of hope and renewal for this small group struggling to survive in a still strange land, all but forgotten by their Queen.
As the regal virgin Queen Elizabeth I, Diana Cameron McQueen exudes prestige, privilege, and more than a dose of a frustrated little girl trapped in this royal world, quick tempered and playfully brutal.
Michael Murray owns his role of Spanish ship captain Simon Fernando, making the most of his stage time with a sly charm that suggests there is more to Fernando than the colonists may realize.
Technically, the lighting, smoke, and sound effects throughout the production are used to heighten the drama, and having various actors unexpectedly enter from all corners of the Waterside Theatre throughout the production creates a feeling that the audience is inside the action happening on stage.
While the real life mystery of what happened to those colonists on Roanoke Island in 1857 remains officially unsolved, the play presents the hopes and dreams of those men, women, and children as imagined by writer Paul Green more than seven decades ago, and while their names are now legend and their story entwined with myth, the 2013 production of The Lost Colony succeeds most in humanizing the true struggles of survival faced by the earliest locals and visitors on the Outer Banks.
Official Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
Check out our exclusive images from the final dress rehearsal of The Lost Colony 2013 production on May 30, 2013 in the photo gallery below, and then come back here to write your own review after you see the play!
[photos by Artz Music & Photography]