Burning Coal Theatre Company’s recent presentation of Oakwood: 150 Years Young, written by Ian L. Finley, Rebecca Wyrick, and Brook North, directed by George Jack, performed Oct. 4-6 at the Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC, was a chilling but enlightening experience. Every actor really did a great job at mixing storytelling with audience interaction.
I was surprised to find out was about Haywood Hall and its history. It is the only historic home still owned by the family, which piqued my interest about the Marshall Haywood and the rest of the Haywood family.
I found the storytelling of the Mordecai family both touching and humorous. The actress playing Margaret Lane Mordecai did a great job at balancing the emotions of telling the story of such a wonderful early family life and then describing the terrible end of all of it with the death of Margaret’s son.
I also enjoyed the story of Jesse Littleton Broyles, a.k.a. The Peanut Man. The actor displayed the characteristics and personality extremely well and made you feel like you’ve known The Peanut Man all his life.
The history of Historic Oakwood Cemetery was topped off by the beautiful natural scene, which was in the Oakwood Cemetery. Oakwood Cemetery still has its historic drapings, which puts you in the time of each character’s voyage. Luckily, the North Carolina weather wasn’t in too much of a bad mood and gave a well-deserved early fall breeze throughout the show.
Director George Jack and the stage manager did a wonderful job with setting up “stage” exits and entrances for the actors and making sure that the show flowed well with the storytelling. I would definitely come again for more tales of this gorgeous historic community in Raleigh, and I encourage everyone to research Oakwood Cemetery and visit these historic sites whenever you get the chance.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 18th Hillsborough, NC WHUP/104.7 FM interview with director George Jack, conducted by Wayne Leonard for “Lights Up!” (Note: This interview starts at the 42:00-minute mark): https://whupfm.org/episode/lights-up-9-18-19-permanent-archive/; and a guest N.C. Museum of History blog by Caroline Gregus: https://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/blog/untold-history-of-oakwood-cemetery.
OAKWOOD: 150 YEARS YOUNG (Burning Coal Theatre Company and Historic Oakwood Cemetery, Oct. 4-6 in Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27601).
BURNING COAL’S HISTORY PLAYS: https://burningcoal.org/ourhistory/.
VENUE: https://www.historicoakwoodcemetery.org/, https://www.facebook.com/historicoakwoodcemeteryraleigh, https://twitter.com/HistoricOakwood, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_Oakwood_Cemetery.
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Germôna Sharp is a vocalist and actress from Pittsburgh, PA. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC; and she has appeared in many different productions in the area and is very happy to contribute to the talent in the community. Click here to read Germôna Sharp’s reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.