Avast! "A Tale of Blackbeard" Returns

Sundae Horn
The new face of Edward Teach!
The new face of Edward Teach!

The 2015 production begins with an open dress rehearsal on Monday, June 29th!

Tonight’s show of the musical “A Tale of Blackbeard” is FREE (donations are graciously accepted) and will take place at the Ocracoke Community Center at 8pm. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

“Be in line really early,” said Ocracoke Alive president/cast member David Tweedie. “It will sell out fast!” 

On July 6th, the show moves to its regular summer venue in the Ocracoke School gym, where it will run every Monday night through August 17th. 

“A Tale of Blackbeard” by Julie Howard has been delighting audiences on Blackbeard’s favorite island since 1974. Over twenty years, there were nine productions (the last one in ’94), and then, for reasons unclear to us now, there was a twenty-year hiatus. In 2014, the local non-profit Ocracoke Alive revived the play and brought the story and songs to a new generation of pirates and village girls.

Now it’s back for another season – but don’t expect the same show you saw last year! 

Changes include a new venue, new casting, new costumes, and new props.

Even the music will be different. Julie wrote a brand new song for the play this spring called “At Euphemia’s.” Bill Cole, reprising his role as the irascible ship’s cook Ezekial, will lead the pirate crew in a lusty rendition of this new tune.

“It’s so fun to do a new song,” Julie said. “It might replace ‘Ocracoke Cutie’ as everyone’s favorite. It adds to the silliness of the pirates, which I wasn’t sure I wanted, but I really like it.”

“The pirates are having a lot of fun with the new song,” said assistant stage manager Karen Lovejoy.

Also new this year are the director, Courtney Connor-Gardini, and the director’s in-and-out schedule. Due to conflicts with other professional commitments, Courtney won’t get to see her cast perform even once this summer. She left last week for her job teaching dance and gymnastics as Tyler Hill Camp in NY (on the way she had a gig as Snoopy in Yankee Stadium). Before that, she was traveling back and forth from her home in NYC to direct “A Tale of Blackbeard.” Now, she’s left lots of notes for the stage manager, Debbie Leonard, and turned the show over to them and Julie.

Practicing in the Ocracoke School commons area
Practicing in the Ocracoke School commons area
Left to right: Tom Pahl, Chrisi Gaskill, Nathan Modlin, Waylon Underwood, Rob Touhey, Peyton Piquard, and Derrick Gilliam

Some may remember Courtney as the Ocracoke School P.E. teacher, a gig she took for a year (we think it was 2005-06). She’s been back a couple of times since to direct the Ocracoke School Christmas Show, and she loves to visit the island (she also owns a cottage here.) She teaches ballet, pilates, and gymnastics and does costume work: Bob the Builder, Snoopy, Elmo with Sesame Street Live, Angelina Ballerina with American Ballet Theater, and she even played Bugs Bunny at the White House. After summer camp, Coutrtney heads back to the city for her 15th season of The Nutcracker. She oversees the whole production for director Francis Patrelli, and rehearsals start in August. “That’s a hell of a lot of Christmas,” she said. “I get so sick of Nutcracker music I could puke!” 

She doesn’t feel that way at all about “A Tale of Blackbeard,” of course.

“Julie’s music is amazing,” Courtney said at her farewell rehearsal. “And Desiree is a fantastic choreographer. The singing and dancing performances are going well, too. I appreciate how cooperative and patient everyone has been with me. We keep using different practice space and that has helped them try new things on stage. The actors have all grown so much.”

“I’m pleased with the cast,” Julie agreed. “Some people from last year are in different roles, and we have new cast members, too. Rob’s doing a great job as Blackbeard.”

“We cast Rob for the ladies,” David added.

Avast! "A Tale of Blackbeard" Returns

“Rob is going to be awesome,” said Debbie.

“The past couple of rehearsals were really fun to see as people begin to internalize the play and actually act,” said David, who was himself an acting major at Davidson and is no stranger to Ocracoke stages. “Everybody’s finding their character, with a different approach and different energy than last year.”

Miss Euphemia is, I hear, quite sassy. The Farthinghams are comical. And there are some new, younger pirates, a new heroine, and new little sisters.

Also new is the in-the-gym venue where set designer Charles Temple is building a “black-box theater”-type set-up within the cavernous space. If that sounds vague, it’s intentionally so. I haven't seen the set, and the cast hasn't either. They have yet to practice in their official performance place.

Understatement alert: “We still have a lot to develop with the tech in the gym,” said David. 

Julie was more confident. “We would’ve been ready for opening on the 29th, but now we have this extra week to polish,” she said.

Tonight’s free performance will be virtually set-free. Minimalist theater, if you will. For the real deal, come again next week!    

"A Tale of Blackbeard" is working in partnership with the Ocracoke PTA this season, and will run Mondays (July 6th – August 17th) at 8pm in the Ocracoke School gym. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the Ocracoke PTA with remaining funds designated towards Ocracoke Alive programming in the community. Food concessions will provide an opportunity for classroom fundraising for Ocracoke teachers. 

Find out more about the play  – and, most importantly – how to get tickets at www.ocracokealive.org.

Ocracoke Current stories about the "A Tale of Blackbeard"'s plot and history, and last year's production are here, here, and here.

Pirate Crew:

Blackbeard ~ Rob Touhey

Mark Brown/Tom Pahl ~ William Howard

Waylon Underwood ~ Richard Evans

Bill Cole ~ Ezekiel

Peyton Piquard~ Helmsman

Nathan Modlin ~ Sailor

Derek Gilliam ~ Sailor

John Brodisch II ~ Sailor

Parker Gaskill ~ Cabin Boy


David Tweedie ~ Oliver

Trisha Davis ~ Victoria

Caroline Temple ~ Elizabeth

Emilia Jordan/Katie Kinnion ~ Katherine 

Village Girls:

Megan Spencer ~ Euphemia

DeAnna Locke ~ Marjorie

Village Girls ~ Callie Davisson, Amy Howard, Chrisi Gaskill,

Mary Chandler Storrs, Lori Masaitis 

Production Staff:

Directors ~ Courtney Conner, Desiree Ricker

Books, Music and Lyrics ~ Julia C. Howard

Musical Director and Accompanist ~ Julia C. Howard

Choreography ~ Desiree Ricker

Stage Managers ~ Debbie Leonard, Karen Lovejoy

Lighting ~ George Roberson

Sound ~ Molly Lovejoy

Costume Design ~ Linda Ward, Heather Johnson, Amy Campbell

Set Construction ~ Charles Temple

Backdrop Design ~ Mark Brown

Artwork & Graphics ~ Casey Robertson

Publicity & Production ~ David Tweedie & Ocracoke Alive



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