Gloria and Jeffrey Emmerich say goodbye to Eastern North Carolina
Saturday, April 27, marked the final performance of the “Emmerich Era” at the Rocky Hock Playhouse in Edenton. With all of the performances for the Easter show, "It Is Finished," sold out before it opened and more than 1,000 people turned away, the Emmerichs said, "The kindness of our patrons was overwhelming, and our cast and crew 'felt it' as tears, hugs and parting words were shared."
The Rocky Hock Playhouse doors opened in Edenton in 2000. But the theatre's roots go back to 1997. That summer Jeffrey and Gloria Emmerich were invited to Nags Head to put together a summer stock pilot theatre. They ended up taking nearly 40 students to the Outer Banks from North Central University in Minneapolis, where they were professors of theatre, music and communications. In Nags Head the cast performed such musicals as Under His Wings, The Fantasticks, and Anne of Green Gables.
The Emmerichs worked out of a temporary theatre on the Outer Banks again during the summer of 1998, but it was soon apparent that they needed to find a more permanent location. It was their desire to stay in the general area since the location was good and patrons were coming regularly from the Hampton Roads area and as far away as Richmond, VA, Raleigh, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC. They ended up settling on Edenton, located on the Albemarle Sound in Chowan County and about 60 miles west of Kitty Hawk.
Since the move to Edenton, the Emmerichs have mounted over 85 major productions at the playhouse, turning it into a premier area dinner theatre venue. Gloria has been the writer of nearly all the musicals. Her two-act “Broadway Style” musicals have been performed around the world and are available through Emmerich Publications, Inc., based in Edenton (www.christianmusicalsonline.com).
With only a handful of full-time Christian theatres in the United States, the couple are keenly aware of the responsibility they have to continue giving Christian actors and singers an opportunity to work in a wholesome theatre atmosphere. Over the years the playhouse has succeeded in maintaining the reputation of being unique, wholesome and family oriented.
With Gloria serving as the playhouse's resident musical director, playwright, lyricist, composer and arranger, Jeffrey has served as the artistic director and frequently starred in the productions. Jeffrey and Gloria have performed for over 325,000 people at the playhouse since it officially opened in 2000.
Jeffrey has also served as director of the COAST (College of the Albemarle Student Theatre) Players at the Elizabeth City COA campus, He has directed a total of nearly 200 plays and musicals over the last 45 years.
During that time the couple have also worked as evangelists, professors and staff pastors at a local church, along with ministering through music and drama in nearly every state in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Israel, Great Britain, New Zealand, Fiji, Suriname, South America and throughout the Caribbean. Jeffrey is an ordained minister and a tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
Next up for the Emmerichs is moving to Henderson, Nevada and working in Oregon with composer/playwright Mike Herron on his new musical, “The Gearheart Hotel.”
"Our ministry will continue in an exciting new way," added Jeffrey, "and we’ll be making an Australian concert tour within the year." They also are planning to expand their publications company.
The couple said they are thrilled to announce that Darryl Stallings will continue to operate the Rocky Hock Playhouse. "The style of the theatre will be Darryl’s and we trust that you will support him as you supported us over the last two decades," Jeffrey said. "The theatre name, logo, website and phone number will remain the same."
Reflecting that the playhouse was unique, he added, "Back in the early '70s we dreamed of owning our own theatre. The dream took a while, but by 2000 the Rocky Hock Playhouse became a reality. The shows were primarily premiers of Gloria’s musicals and many of those shows have gone on to be performed around the world."
Noting that they are both "humbled and honored" by the opportunity they have had to lead this work for 20 years, Jeffrey added, "We wish to thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for the friendship and memories you helped us make...It is with grateful hearts that we bid you all farewell. You have added immeasurably to our lives. We will always be grateful for you."
Coming next to the Rocky Hock is "A Carolina Christmas" on Nov. 19 and 23 and Dec. 3, 7, 10 and 17. This will be followed in 2020 by "Be My Valentine" on Feb. 11, 14, 15 and 18.
For tickets or information about the shows in Edenton, call 252-482-4621 or Darryl Stallings at 252-297-2135. The physical location of the playhouse is 749 Virginia Road, Edenton, NC 27932. The Box Office phone is 252-482-4621.