William Ivey Long and the Lost Colony

Noted for his attention to historic detail, this image from William Ivey Long Studios, shows how Long created a modern costume from a 16th century portrait.
Noted for his attention to historic detail, this image from William Ivey Long Studios, shows how Long created a modern costume from a 16th century portrait.

Now that we’re in May it’s just a few weeks before the The Lost Colony opens for the season at Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island. Opening night this year is Friday, May 27.

This will be the 79th year for the play. First staged in 1937 with the hope that it would last one season, it proved so successful that it was brought back in 1938  . . . and 1939, and in 2016 it’s still very much a part of the Outer Banks experience.

Over the years a number of well-known actors have been a part of the production—Andy Griffith starred as Sir Walther Raleigh in the late 1940s; Christopher Guest was part of the production n the 1980s; Lynn Redgrave played Queen Elizabeth. But if there is one well-known figure in the world of stage and film who has been associated with The Lost Colony’s Production Designer William Ivey Long.

Long is one of the most sought after costume and production designers on Broadway and in film. Over the years has won six Tonys and seven Drama Desk Awards, been elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame, and he is currently the Chairman of The American Theatre Wing.

Even before he was born, Long’s parents were part of The Lost Colony—his father’s history went back to the very beginning; he was a graduate assistant attending UNC  and he helped get the play off the ground in 1937.

His mother, Mary, played Queen Elizabeth for a number of years and his father eventually became the director.

He credits his lifelong fascination with design and costume to lessons he learned working with the production’s first costume director, Irene Smart Rains.

Although the play has been updated—especially some of the special effects and lighting—it is still very true to the original production that Paul Green wrote. It is the longest running outdoor play in North America, and the history it tells and the history of the play itself makes for a great evening of theatre.

Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates is a proud sponsor of The Lost Colony.

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