Ahoy! “A Tale of Blackbeard” Returns!

Sundae Horn
Yes, that IS Jenny Scarborough on that stage!
Yes, that IS Jenny Scarborough on that stage!
Photos from the 1987 production courtesy of Amy Howard.

All are welcome to Deepwater Theater on Thursday, February 6th, at 4:30pm and 7:00pm to view screenings of the 1991 and 1987 productions.

“We want people to get to know the show before we start auditions for the spring production,” said Ocracoke Alive president David Tweedie.

Written in 1974 by Ocracoke resident Julie Howard, “A Tale of Blackbeard” was produced nine times on the island. The last staging was in 1994, back when today’s village girls and pirate boys were mere twinkles in their parents’ eyes.

For those of us over, ahem, forty, memories of the play are sweet, and many have been eager to see Ocracoke’s own musical brought back to life.

Ocracoke Alive is sponsoring the spring revival, which will go on stage sometime in May, and continue a regular schedule of Monday night performances all summer long. Auditions will be held on February 22nd at the Community Center. Keep checking the Current calendar for more details!

The show’s creator, Julie Howard, who now lives part-time in Bellingham, WA, will return to the island this spring to be the accompanist.

“The music is really good,” said “Blackbeard” vet Kitty Mitchell. “And Julie’s an awesome accompanist.”

Shiver me timbers!
Shiver me timbers!

The legends say that Julie could immediately transpose the key of a song to fit the singer, and that if an actor had a good voice and a non-singing part, she would just go home and write another song.

“Julie changed the play according to who was in it,” said alum DeAnna Locke, who has helped to keep the spirit alive by singing a song from "A Tale of Blackbeard" ("Mama Never Told Me About Sailors") at the Ocrafolk Opry.

In classic Ocracoke fashion, Julie surveyed whom and what she had at hand, and made it work.

The new directors, Charles Temple and Desiree Ricker, will also have the same challenges – and fun.

“The play is in the classic musical theater style,” said Desiree. “This style of show is really making a comeback, so this is a good time to bring it back. It’s fun, the music is beautiful, and the script is really wordy in a good way.”

There are fourteen key roles, plus a chorus of 3 or 4 sailors, and 3 or 4 village girls. Five characters sing solos, including Blackbeard, Richard (the handsome pirate), Elizabeth (the girl Richard falls for), and Catherine (Elizabeth’s little sister.) Don’t sing or dance? There’s still a part for you.

The inimitable Danny Garrish.
The inimitable Danny Garrish.

The size of the cast really depends on “how many people want to be a part of it,” said Desiree. “We can add people of any age.”

Charles and Desiree will be co-directing. Charles revived the theater scene on Ocracoke in 2010 by directing (and acting in) a school and community production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He followed up that success in 2011 with “We Must Kill Toni” and in 2012 with “Macbeth.” Last year, he and Desiree were both actors in “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Emmet Temple. 

Desiree is a singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor, so combined with Charles’s acting and directing talents, their theater experience will bring new life to “A Tale of Blackbeard.”

David Tweedie says his job will be “helping with logistics.” Talented stage manager Molly Lovejoy and actor/director Emmet Temple have also expressed a willingness to help out when they get home from their respective colleges this spring.

Julie at the piano.
Julie at the piano.

Charles made it clear that not all the work will be on the stage, and that, in fact, the backstage jobs are often the most fun.

Intrigued by set design, sound, lighting, putting up and striking the set, costumes, stage management, etc.? Let the directors know, as all interested parties will have some work to do.  

Rehearsals will begin in March, and the directors hope their onstage and backstage crews can get most of the work done before the season kicks in on Ocracoke. The show will debut in mid-May, and then they’ll decide about a summer run.

“We’d like to do the show every Monday night all summer at the Community Center,” said David. “Once we get the cast together and know the reality of people’s summer schedules, we’ll be able to plan for that.” 

Check the Ocracoke Alive websites for more information as the show progresses, or contact David (252-921-0260), Charles (252-921-0462) or Desiree (828-243-8148) if you want to get involved. 


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