Gordon in the News: last updated 09/27/2013
Additional information about Goodnight, Captain White
The reviews of Goodnight, Captain White have been excellent: “An ideal production for a dinner theatre” (Essex County Newspapers); “a provocative script…dialogue with the tone of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta” (Georgetown Record); “A hysterical whodunit…both comical and personal” (Salem News); “Quick-witted, playful…a brilliant script” (Weekender); “a spritely murder mystery…dashedly clever” (Lowell Sun); “A zany who-done-it…it captivates you” (Eagle Tribune); “a tour de force…a fun worthwhile evening out” (Daily News of Newburyport); “Rich with innuendo…relies on a talented cast for improv and audience interaction… a night of good fun” (Destination Salem).
A little-known event: The story of Captain White’s murder in his Essex Street home was not well known when playwrightand Salem resident Mark Stevick—a professor at Gordon College—began writing his play two decades ago. Stevick learned about the murder in 1985 on a tour of the Gardner-Pingree House, curated then by the Essex Institute, in which the event occurred. Tour guides were discouraged at the time from mentioning the murder because an Institute benefactor, Louise DuPont Crowninshield, was connected by marriage to the 1830 murderer, Richard Crowninshield. “I was on a private tour of the house as a college student when a guide let the story slip,” Stevick says. Years later, after writing and performing in Cry Innocent, the long-running reenactment of the witch trial of Bridget Bishop, Stevick was looking for a new project for his troupe. “I remembered old Captain White and that rogue Richard Crowninshield, and I got to work researching.”
Based on the characters and events surrounding that murder, Goodnight, Captain White is not a reenactment like Cry Innocent. “We’re not sticking to the exact history here,” Stevick says. “We follow the original story, but we’ve cut and combined to make for a more high-energy, comic period piece.” Though set in 1830, the play is peppered with double-entendre and quotes from film and television. Director Jill Miriam Rogati’s style is feverishly paced and highly physical. And the play’s themes of façade, double-crossing and revelation permeate the direction and design.
About the venue: Rockafellas Restaurant is the latest and largest venue for this widely travelled production, which premiered in 1999 at Salem’s Lyceum Bar & Grill, and received an extended run at Giordano’s Starlite Dinner Theatre in Georgetown. Located only a few blocks from the murder house, Rockafellas occupies a building with many ties to Salem’s history, including witch trial victims Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey and Salem author Nathaniel Hawthorne. “This building’s past connects well with History Alive!’s mission to enliven Salem’s history through theatre,” says artistic director Kristina Stevick. “The characters in Goodnight, Captain White would know the 1826 building, and the international menu lets us all enjoy exotic tastes from far-off ports. This will be an event that is quintessentially Salem. We could hardly ask for a more perfect venue for this show.”
Rockafellas owner Dave McKillop says, “Colonial Hall at Rockafellas is thrilled to be working with History Alive! on this wonderful Halloween event. We’re looking forward to providing amazing food and a memorable show to tourists and locals alike.”
About History Alive!
History Alive!, a branch of the Gordon College Department of Theatre, creates original theatre based on true stories from the past. Emphasis is given to audience interaction so that each show is fresh, surprising and playful. The company also seeks to invigorate the local economy by designing activities which connect the community and its visitors to a distinct, local history.
Imagery available on request.