Elizabeth R, written and directed by lebame houston and starring Barbara Hird, had its seventh season during the summer of 1999. Weather permitting, the show was performed on Tuesday afternoons outside in the Elizabethan Gardens next to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on the north end of Roanoke Island. (On rainy days, the production was moved into the Gardens’ Meeting Hall.) The show portrays Elizabeth I in her private alcove at Richmond Castle where she ponders the events of her life, from the beheading of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to her own relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh and his attempt to colonize Roanoke Island and beyond. The show has played not only on Roanoke Island, but also has toured the east coast of the United States and had a three-week run at the 1995 Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.
Running simultaneously with Elizabeth R last summer was the third season of Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, which played Wednesdays at the Pioneer Theatre in downtown Manteo. The play is set in London’s Westminster Abbey, where the sisters Queens Mary and Elizabeth are buried in the same tomb. Events take place at night after the tourists have left and the queens’ ghosts come out to bicker and fight with one another. Also directed by houston, Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen starred Katherine Burke as Bloody Queen Mary, Hird as Queen Elizabeth I, and featured Sidney Bounds as the befuddled Westminster Abbey tour guide. Keeping the royal theme, aside from her work in Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, Burke played Queen Elizabeth in last summer’s production of The Lost Colony.
On April 6 of this year, Elizabeth R & Company worked with students from Manteo Elementary School to produce The Colony That Was Lost, whose story tells of the 1584, 1585-86, and 1587 Roanoke voyages. The play is based on a concept by Bonnie Duckworth of Charlotte Country Day School. Duckworth wrote the play’s original music and houston wrote the script as well as directed the production. Some 68 fourth and fifth graders took part, playing members to the English court, English colonists, and Native Americans. The production was made possible with grants from the Percy W. and Elizabeth G. Meekins Charitable Trust, from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and from East Carolina Bank. Plans are being made for the play to be produced at other elementary schools throughout Dare County.
Elizabeth R runs its eighth season, again at the Elizabethan Gardens, on Tuesday evenings from June 13th to August 22nd at 5:00 p.m. Ticket are $8.00 and include admission to the Gardens before the show. For those interested in this or any other of these productions, Elizabeth R & Company can be contacted at (252) 473-1061.
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