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Historic Waterside Theatre

Historic Waterside Theatre

The Historic Waterside Theatre in Manteo, North Carolina offers visitors a unique glimpse into the past. With live performances and interactive exhibits, this is a great place to learn more about the history of this region. The theatre has been in operation since the early 1900s and has seen many changes over the years. Today, it is just as popular a destination as it was then. 

The theatre offers a variety of live performances throughout the year, as well as exhibits on local history. Visitors can also take part in interactive experiences, such as guided tours of the theatre and its grounds.  Whether you're interested in history or just looking for a fun night out, the Historic Waterside Theatre is sure to please.


The Historic Waterside Theatre initially featured simple, backless bench seating for 3,500 patrons. It also included rain shelters, restrooms, and concession stands. The main stage was referred to as a permanent set- featuring a log-structured settlement area that included a chapel, four cabins, and ramparts. The house-right and house-left stages were transition areas that softened the forestage walls, allowing the audience to feel close to the performance.

Originally constructed in 1937 to house Paul Green’s symphonic drama The lost colony, the Waterside Theatre was built to resemble the original colonial Williamsburg theater. It was destroyed by fire in 1947 and twice hit by hurricanes. The drama was not shown during WWII because of the war effort, and was canceled in 1947 due to the damage caused by a fire. In 1948, the theatre reopened and continued to play plays into the 1950s. However, due to financial difficulties, the theatre closed in 1959. After being restored in 1961, the theatre re-opened in 1962. The theatre continues to operate today, playing dramas each summer.

The theatre has been used for many purposes including plays, musicals, and concerts. It is a good place for aspiring actors, directors, and technicians to train. People also come to enjoy quality entertainment here. The theatre is an important part of Outer Banks history and culture and it will continue to be important for years to come.

The Lost Colony

The Roanoke Island Historical Association (RIHA) is responsible for commemorating the history of the first English colonies in North America on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.The Lost Colony outdoor drama is the main way they accomplish this mission. And they also offer educational events and programs for those who desire more about the English colonies' history. 

The 83rd season of The Lost Colony, America's longest running symphonic drama, opened on May 29th and closed August 21st at Roanoke Island’s Waterside Theatre. 

This epic story about humans struggling against nature will be sure to engage you with its powerful messages about unity among people no matter what their backgrounds are or where they come from! 

This play was written by Paul Green who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on it. And their website reports that dates for The Lost Colony's 86th season are to be announced soon. 

At first glance, The Lost Colony is an old story about Englishmen who settled in North Carolina and became builders for their colony on Roanoke Island. But it’s so much more than that! With live music performances throughout your visit to this historic site. Whether you are listening while walking among the beautiful gardens or sitting near strategically placed speakers outside waiting. Through the realistic sound effects like rainstorms & Native American attacks, visitors will gain insight into what life was really like back then during "the time before TV."

Each summer, over 100 actors, technicians, designers, and volunteers rehearse to bring the Lost Colony of Roanoke story to life. You will be surrounded by history when you come to see a show in this historic venue. The production is enormous and so are the stars above you, as live action happens on the entire three-sided stage! Come experience epic battles between good versus evil amongst other things during your visit to the Lost Colony. 

The production will not disappoint any avid theater goers or even the most critical critic. Come and witness the pageantry of the Queen and her court and celebrate the birth of Virginia Dare. There is music, laughter, romance, and dance. The Lost Colony production has been celebrated as the “founding father” of the modern American Musical. 

Annual Membership Campaign

In order to sustain production of The Lost Colony, the RIHA bylaws allow them to use funding from memberships sold. Annual memberships run from January through December, and their website reports that benefits may be subject to change with advance notice. Memberships are typically for individual donors and any Businesses or Organizations with a sponsorship interest are encouraged to visit their Corporate Sponsorship page. 

There are several levels of individual sponsorships available with varied benefits that escalate with member levels. And for the 2022 season, these membership levels included:

  • Patron Circle of Friends | Donations of $85 - $249
  • Bronze Circle of Friends | Donations of $250 - $499
  • Silver Circle of Friends | Donations of $500 - $999
  • Gold Circle of Friends | Donations of $1,000 - $2,499
  • Platinum Circle of Friends | Donations of $2,500 - $4,999
  • Diamond Circle of Friends | Donations of $5,000+

Some of the benefits included:

  • Complimentary Lost Colony tickets
  • Complimentary Souvenir Programs
  • Complimentary Backstage Tours
  • Recognition within the Program and Website
  • Early Notice and Booking Privileges to The Lost Colony Wine and Culinary Festival

The Historic Waterside Theatre in Manteo, North Carolina is a cultural and historical gem on Roanoke Island. This summer, make your plans early to see the Lost Colony outdoor drama production there. And don't forget to support the arts by becoming a member of the Roanoke Island Historical Association. Your membership helps keep theatre alive and vibrant for future generations of Outer Banks residents and visitors alike.

ENC Explorer
Author: ENC Explorer

After getting accepted to ECU, I started looking for things to do in and around Greenville, NC. However, my searches kept taking me to places in South Carolina! There must be things to do around ECU, so I started asking other students. They kept telling me to graduate and move away! This inspired me to begin exploring eastern North Carolina and build this website as a showcase of the places to go, sights to see, and things to do all over eastern NC. I have fallen in love with this region and started taking up roots here. After graduating, I didn't move away - I bought a house here and continue to explore eastern North Carolina.

This place is for Publicity

This place is for Publicity

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