9 Outdoor Dramas to Enjoy Under the Stars in North Carolina

North Carolina is the birthplace of the American outdoor drama, entertaining theatergoers under the stars since 1937. Since then, opportunities to step back in time surrounded by settings only Mother Nature could provide have expanded across our state and beyond.

With subjects ranging from a crime of passion to a mutiny aboard a slave ship, here are nine dramas to take you outside and back through history this summer.

1 The Lost Colony

1 The Lost Colony

ManteoSee on mapSee on map

 

Set on the legendary Outer Banks, The Lost Colony is the nation’s longest-running symphonic outdoor drama and tells the story of America’s first unsolved mystery. A full 22 years before Jamestown was settled, colonists from England tried to carve out a home on North Carolina’s Roanoke Island. Left to survive when their ship went back to England for supplies, the colony disappeared into the mists of history, becoming known as “The Lost Colony.”

Performed in the Waterside Theatre, a cast of more than 200 people brings this 2013 winner of the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre to life.

See it: mid-May through mid-August

 

2 Unto These Hills

2 Unto These Hills

CherokeeSee on mapSee on map

 

Staged in the sacred mountain land of the Cherokee, Unto These Hills paints a vivid portrait of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The story unfolds as members of the Cherokee nation first encounter Spanish explorers in 1540. This tale of tragedy and triumph follows them through their tragic removal from their ancestral North Carolina home and forced march along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

Bring jackets or blankets to see this show at the Mountainside Theatre, as temperatures can drop as day turns to night during the 2-hour performance.

See it: early June through mid-August

 

3 Horn in the West

3 Horn in the West

BooneSee on mapSee on map

 

One of North Carolina’s most famous sons takes center stage in Horn in the West, the country’s oldest Revolutionary War drama. The story follows Daniel Boone as he migrates westward into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Under oaks as old as our nation, you’ll be swept away into the spirit and perseverance of Boone and like-minded settlers who sparked our westward expansion and fought to maintain their freedom against the British.

Many people believe the magnificent Daniel Boone Amphitheatre is worth the price of admission alone. It sits amid 35-acres of rugged Watauga County terrain hidden among giant rhododendron.

See it: mid-June through early August

 

4 First for Freedom

4 First for Freedom

HalifaxSee on mapSee on map

 

Celebrate Independence Day with a drama about the Halifax Resolves, the first formal declaration of independence by an American colony, in the very place the document was signed.

See it: every Fourth of July

 

5 Montford Park Players

5 Montford Park Players

AshevilleSee on mapSee on map

 

For more than 30 years, the Players have made it their mission to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone through both their performance style and by offering shows free of charge.

See it: May through early September

 

6 Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre

6 Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre

Snow CampSee on mapSee on map

 

Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre is home to two original plays: The Sword of Peace and Pathway to Freedom. While one focuses on the Revolutionary War and the other on the Underground Railroad, both tell stories of persecution and perseverance.

See them: July through mid-August

 

7 Cape Fear Shakespeare

7 Cape Fear Shakespeare

WilmingtonSee on mapSee on map

 

Pack a picnic for the free-to-the-public Shakespeare on the Green Festival, where local players bring to life selections from the bard every summer at the renovated Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.

See it: late May through June

 

8 Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend

8 Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County Legend

WilkesboroSee on mapSee on map

 

The murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dooley in Ferguson more than a century ago was one of the nation’s first highly publicized crimes of passion. Explore the unanswered questions surrounding the crime while enjoying authentic foothills bluegrass music.

See it: throughout July

 

 

Updated March 25, 2018
Top of Page