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Ian Finley’s “Ghosts of Fayetteville Street” Teaches Lessons in Local History

Burning Coal's outdoor dramas explore local history

Burning Coal's outdoor dramas explore local history

Burning Coal Theatre Company teamed up with Raleigh City Museum over Halloween weekend to present The Ghosts of Fayetteville Street. The unique walking-tour experience started at the museum and took viewers all the way to the State Capitol building. Unfortunately, the show’s title proved to be misleading. There were no scares or thrills along the way, just a history lesson presented through a series of monologues given by seven actors, with most of them playing multiple roles. Sunday’s performance faced many challenges, such as barely audible dialogue thanks to the din of Fayetteville Street traffic and having too many audience members to give everyone a good view of the action.

Despite these hindrances, the show had some nice moments. Ashley Loren’s spunky portrayal of a Grog Alley prostitute entertained the adults, but was veiled enough to be kid-friendly. Together, she and actor George Kaiser showcased how the “vagrants” were forced to live in a Prohibition Era society.

Loren later appeared as the daughter of John Haywood (Stuart Jonap), the first mayor of Raleigh, and Eliza Haywood (Donna Rossi Youngblood). The characters discussed Mayor Haywood’s habit of throwing large parties and having people over to dinner — a fact that caused Mrs. Haywood great disdain. Portrayed hilariously by Youngblood, this character and the entire scene shone as one of the show’s better moments.

The performance’s over-the-top ending had all of the “ghosts” surrounding the viewers, chanting lines from their monologues and reminding viewers that they were always there. It was enough to make adults cringe, but perfect and maybe even a little eerie for younger viewers who weathered the walk.

Burning Coal Theatre frequently teams up with Historic Oakwood Cemetery and the Raleigh City Museum for outdoor performances. Information about future shows can be obtained by clicking

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