Lost Colony rises from the ashes

This, unfortunately, is the second post I’ve written about a fire at an NC cultural institution destroying irreplaceable costumes and artifacts. The good news is that today’s subject, The Lost Colony outdoor drama of Roanoke Island, is currently celebrating a renewal.

The September 2007 fire destroyed the costume shop and its contents, requiring renowned designer William Ivey Long and his crew to painfully reconstruct and “age” the approximately 1,000 costumes lost—a task Long described as “the greatest challenge and . . . the greatest assignment of my entire life.”

The Hugh Morton image below shows some of those beautiful costumes in detail—and, you just might recognize the young lad on the right.


This image appears on page 281 of the 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina, with the following caption:

The lanky, tousel [sic]-headed Sir Walter Raleigh is Andy Griffith, a former drama major and PlayMaker at UNC-Chapel Hill. Paul Green’s great outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, was just beginning its long run to success when Griffith won the audition for the role. He moved to Manteo and played Sir Walter for the next six years. The drama was, and is, valuable experience and summer employment for summer actors and actresses.

In the wake of the fire, Griffith donated his sword (shown above), initially thought destroyed, back to the production.

The image below shows the costumes in full color (though they look slightly altered from the earlier image), worn by later versions of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter.

One thought on “Lost Colony rises from the ashes

  1. “The Lost Colony” is a North Carolina treasure, and as such, it has been well documented by Hugh Morton and one of his photographer contemporaries Aycock Brown. On the front cover of the 1953 “Lost Colony” souvenir program is a color picture of the Andy Griffith image in this post. It’s just a slightly different perspective…a little wider shot.

    Back in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, Kay Kyser and Emma Neal Morrison came up with an idea to bolster “Lost Colony” attendance. They called it Celebrity Night. It was simply putting names in the news as players in the show. Some of the folks who participated were: novelist and movie writer James Street; radio personality Kay Kyser and his wife Georgia Carroll; undersecretary of state James Webb; authors William Norman Coxe, Jonathan Daniels, Foster FitzSimons, and Betty Smith; UNC All America Football Star Charlie Justice; football coaches Carl Snavely from UNC and Wallace Wade from Duke; and Miss North Carolina and Miss America. Each was given a part in the show. Needless to say, photographers loved the idea and scrambled to get their shots. Many of those shots appeared in the souvenir programs over the years.

    Elizabeth, to follow up on your “from the ashes” theme: Waterside Theatre has been destroyed and rebuilt twice–once after a devastating fire in 1947 and again after Hurricane Donna in 1960…so it’s not surprising that they are up and running for the 2008 season.

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