The Lost Colony Finds Its Way 

By on June 4, 2023

The Storyteller (Kat Littleturtle) foretelling of the coming of the English in the opening scene of The Lost Colony. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Imani Joeph’s Troubodour Dance was a highlight of the performance. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Virginia Dare, first English child born in the New World, is baptized. (L to R) Attendant (Maxwell Glasser); Father Martin (Robert Erdman); Elanor Dare (McKenzie Troyer) and Anais Dare (JT Atwood). (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Old Tom (Chris Rothbuer) meets Agona (Stevie Lowry). (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Queen Elizabeth I (Libby Otos) makes her appearance. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
John White (Stuart Parks) falls to his knees before Queen Elizabeth I (Libby Otos) pleading for the suppose that will save the lives of his daughter and granddaughter. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Our Song, performed by (LtoR) Olyvia Gregg, Katie Smith and Simone Gutierrez was a musical highlight. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
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Curtain rose for 86th season on June 2

The 2023 version of The Lost Colony offers a great night of theater under the stars. The special effects are compelling; the pacing of the play is brisk but keeps the story line intact; and there is not a weak link among the actors.

There is something for everyone in this year’s play. The choreography is superb. Imani Joseph, reprising her role from last year as the Troubadour Dancer, is a highlight of the play and is mesmerizing in her performance.

The fight scenes are very well done. The sword fight between Simon Fernando (Benedetto Robinson) and John Borden (Luke Stage) in particular stood out. It was during the sword fight that Anais Dare’s pledge to always have Borden’s back is confirmed as he comes to the aid of his friend and, unknown to him, a rival for the affections of his wife, Eleanor (Mckenzie Troyer).

The musical performances overall were excellent. Our Song, performed by Olyvia Gregg, Katie Smith and Simone Gutierrez truly stood out. Their voices blended perfectly and the song itself helped to explain their hopes and dreams in the New World.

Perhaps most importantly, Paul Green’s 1937 play has been updated. While Green was a master at blending character development and plot to create the storyline, the play desperately needed updating in the pacing of that plot and in how a number of the characters were depicted.

Not all of the updating worked. Eleanor Dare was presented as too much of a 21st Century woman. She has been a strong character in the play, but she now seems so outspoken about the role women should have in the colony, and about their place in society, that it seems inconsistent with 16th Century mores. That is not a criticism of Troyer’s performance, which was wonderful, rather noting a characterization that seems inconsistent.

Significantly though, the racist depictions of the Native American peoples in the original script have been revised. The principal parts of the Roanoke and Croatan tribes are played by indigenous peoples, primarily from the Lumbee Tribe.

No longer do they speak in simplified English, and from the outset, it is clear from the interaction with the English when they first arrive on Roanoke Island that the native peoples are a sovereign nation and that they have a king—King Wingina (Cam Bryant).

The interaction between John White, played by local actor Stuart Parks, establishes that the two leaders share a vision of peaceful coexistence, and perhaps even a friendship. It is Wingina’s decision to send Manteo (Nakya Leviner) and Wanchese (Ethan Oxendine) to England, hoping that by learning the language and customs of the English, his people would be better able to coexist.

It is there that Manteo and Wanchese meet Queen Elizabeth I ((Libby Otos) in all her opulent glory.

While Wanchese and Manteo are in England, Elizabeth sends 100 men under the command of Captain Ralph Lane (Aaron Coleman) to establish a foothold in the New World.

The depiction of Lane in the 2023 play is an improvement over the ineffectual court fop presented last year. In this portrayal, Lane is seen as a social climber who will do anything to advance himself. If he has to kill Wingina to make himself seem strong and willful, he will not hesitate.

Historically it is known that Lane was a violent military leader who ordered the death of Wingina—a death that contributed to Sir Walter Raleigh’s failed attempt to colonize the New World.

How Wingina’s death is presented is another notable improvement. For the past two years, that was depicted by a large puppet owl, the owl being the symbol of death for a number of Native American people.

Symbolically that may work; realistically it was hard to recognize what happened. This year, the owl was there, but the death of Wingina is called out. And it sets up one of the most powerful scenes of the play.

When Manteo and Wanchese return from England, they learn of the death of Wingina, and they argue different, yet equally valid, points of view.

Manteo sees the path forward as cooperation, arguing that there are so many of the English, with technologies that the Native Americans could use, that working with them was the best way to insure their survival. Wanchese sees the English as filthy, (in the 16th Century, they were) untrustworthy invaders who will steal the land if they are not stopped.

As performed by Leviner and Oxendine, the clash of ideas made for compelling theater.

That clash of ideas comes to a head when the colonists arrive and Wanchese tells White the only way to appease the Roanoke tribe is for the colonists to leave. The colonists decide to stay, but short on provisions and without the help of the indigenous peoples, who themselves were struggling through an extended drought, the colony must have more supplies.

It is for that reason John White returns to England, seeking resupply for the colony. But the Spanish have declared war upon the England and the Queen will allow no English ships to leave port. White pleads with the Queen to allow just two ships to sail for the colony. Falling on his knees, he cries out that it is his daughter and granddaughter that are there and will die without the supplies.

But to no avail, as word comes that a Spanish Armada is approaching England.

Left on their own, the colonists face a desperate situation. Without the help of the Native Americans, there is not enough food to survive. Anais Dare is killed in a raid by the Roanoke tribe, and the village is under constant threat of attack.

It is at this time that perhaps the seminal speech of the play is delivered by Old Tom (Chris Rothbauer).

In England, Tom was the town drunk, a man ridiculed and reviled by the people who knew him. But in the new world, he is remade, finding strength he did not know he had and a wife, Agona, who now speaks.

It is at this desperate moment that Tom stands guard upon the palisade protecting the homes, that he marvels at the change that has come over him.

“Roanoke, o’ Roanoke, thou hast made a man out of me,” he cries out.  And the words are as powerful now as they were when Green first wrote them.

When Green wrote The Lost Colony, the nation was engulfed in the Great Depression, and Tom’s message of hope and resilience was a call to believe in the potential of a troubled nation. It is perhaps for that reason that his words have as much impact today as they did when they were first spoken 86 years ago.

For tickets and more information visit


  • Frank

    The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama has always been, and is even more so now, fiction. The fate of the colony, while not exactly known, is generally understood to be that they went to live with the locals on Hatteras Island.
    They were not lost. The play is a revisionist drama. Now it’s even worse. Sadly, the play has influenced peoples understanding of history. I understand that it’s fictional drama, but too many people believe the story line as being accurate. It’s a big money draw for the area, but too bad that it’s fake.
    I enjoyed the play when I was a kid, but won’t return to see it, and can’t recommend it for anyone now.
    They need to make it historically accurate, not some “unknown fate” revisionist history.

    Sunday, Jun 4 @ 8:38 pm
  • Janice Markkey

    There is a problem with the site. As you are reading the text it jumps forward. I am visual impaired and this makes it almost impossible to read

    Tuesday, Jun 6 @ 3:45 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Sorry Janice, we haven’t heard that complaint before.

    Tuesday, Jun 6 @ 4:44 pm
  • Tony K

    The problem is the photo height. As each picture changes the text moves up and down. This was with MS Edge.

    Tuesday, Jun 6 @ 5:37 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Thanks, Tony.

    Tuesday, Jun 6 @ 6:31 pm
  • Sis

    Frank, it’s just a well done play like any other. Whether they went to Hatteras or Edenton I believe is still up for debate. So saying, in these days and times,it’s delightful to be entertained so one can escape into fantasy. The Lost Colony play will be well rid of you and your depressing attitude. Take care.

    Friday, Jun 9 @ 3:39 pm