the lost colony - waterside theatre

Behind the Scenes: The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony is a must-see production that runs during summer evenings at Waterside Theatre, an outdoor soundfront theater on Roanoke Island. The production celebrates the history of the first English colony on Roanoke Island and is the longest-running outdoor symphonic drama in the nation. We joined Director Jeff Whiting for a behind-the-scenes look at The Lost Colony



The Settlement at Roanoke

The Lost Colony tells the story of the first English settlement in the New World, which is one of America’s oldest unsolved mysteries. The settlers arrived and established Roanoke in 1587. When supplies ran low, the governor of the new colony sailed back to England to replenish the colony’s stock. Governor John White arrived as a war was breaking out between Spain and England. Queen Elizabeth I ordered every available ship to assist against the Spanish Armada. White was not able to return to Roanoke until 1590. When he arrived, there was no trace of the colony, with little information on what may have happened. Many have investigated the disappearance of the colony in the centuries since, with no definitive answers until researchers had a big break in the mystery in 2020. 


The Lost Colony, Refreshed for the 2021 Season

The Lost Colony - old tom and Cora Mae Basnight's agona
Old Tom and Cora Mae Basnight’s Agona in the Fishnet Scene, The Outer Banks History Center, Manteo, NC, Aycock Brown Collection

Paul Green wrote the production, telling the story of the colonists while weaving in drama, song, and dance. The show takes place at the Waterside Theatre, which was constructed on the very spot where the colonists settled. The show arrived to the stage in 1937 and has a rich history in itself. The infamous Andy Griffith had a role in the production from 1947 until 1953, and local legend Cora Mae Basnight played the role of Agona for 27 years. 

After taking the 2020 season off due to challenges caused by the pandemic, The Lost Colony returned to the stage in 2021 for its 84th season. Jeff Whiting joined the production as this year’s director. Jeff has worked on multiple Broadway productions in New York, and he brings a new perspective to the original symphonic drama written by Paul Green. In addition to enhanced visual choreography, acclaimed Broadway composer Sam Davis has also joined the production. The Lost Colony has been reimagined for this season, as Jeff put great effort into casting and preserving the authenticity of the time period. 


How to see The Lost Colony

In 2021, The Lost Colony will take the stage at 8:30 pm, Monday through Saturday, from May 28th through August 21st. The show runs for approximately two hours, with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets can be purchased in advance. We recommend grabbing dinner at Blue Moon Beach Grill in Nags Head on your way to The Lost Colony

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