Saturday, August 02, 2014


Monday, July 28, was a pivotal point in this season's production of Julie Howard's three-act musical, A Tale of Blackbeard. To say the show was fraught with problems is an understatement!

From the very beginning of auditions everyone knew that Bill Jones, who plays Oliver Farthingham, watchman of the town of Ocracoke, would be off the island for this one performance. David Tweedie was recruited to fill in. In addition, several village girls were unavailable, so Jennifer Kidwell stepped up to grace the stage. Unfortunately, Bill Cole, who plays the ship's cook, had injured his back, and Maren Donlon, Katherine's little sister, arrived with a sore throat and an earache.

Then, at 4:30 in the afternoon Matt Tolson, who plays Blackbeard, realized that his worsening head cold and rising fever would make it impossible for him to perform!

Emmet Temple was enjoying an afternoon at the beach when Molly finally got him on his cell phone at 5 o'clock. All season Emmet had been playing Blackbeard's quartermaster, William Howard, and he immediately agreed to tackle this new role. He had three hours before the curtain would rise!

With barely a 1/4" beard (and a bit of makeup), Emmet took command of his pirate crew, and the stage, to give a stellar performance. The cast began referring to him backstage as "Lackbeard." As luck would have it, Wade Holloman, who had played William Howard early in the season, was back on the island for a two-day visit. He stepped in to help save the day.

"Lackbeard" battles Richard Evans

If all of that drama were not enough, problems with the set caused a half hour delay and minor injuries to two members of the cast. After much discussion and attempts to fix the backdrop for Miss Euphemia's Boarding House, the decision was made to proceed without the full set.

Just moments into the show, as pirates were assembled on the deck of the ship, the performance was halted when an audience member collapsed in front of the stage. After a few minutes, Ocracoke's EMTs arrived with a stretcher and carried him to the clinic (I heard later that he had recovered).

Finally, the show resumed. Emmet, David, Wade, Jennifer, and the rest of the cast demonstrated what only seasoned and resilient actors could accomplish. The performance continued without a flaw, and the enthusiastic audience awarded the cast with a rousing ovation.

Mr. Farthingham reacts to the Goings-On at Miss Euphemia's

You can read more about this eventful night at (All photos by Eakin Howard.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about the Ocracoke Crab Festival which was held each May from 1984 to 1989. You can read it here:


  1. Nobody ever said it was easy being a pirate!

  2. Debbie Leonard8:55 AM

    I was in the audience and they did a stellar job! In addition the audience member who collapsed did so right in front of us and I was impressed with the quick and professional response of the EMS.

  3. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Now I know why Thespians say "break a leg" or maybe I don't. I suppose you can plan ahead or the under study says this to the actor-- or now I know why they say "There's no business like show business...." lets go on with the show.

  4. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Wow--high drama adjacent to the high seas. Kudos to all (and the spirit of Ocracoke resilience) for pulling it all together.

    You know, at first glance I thought the title of this blog entry, "Lackbeard," foreshadowed commentary about the new NBC television series "Crossbones," featuring a bald, merely goateed John Malkovich as Blackbeard.