The Sea Witch comes to Colonial Williamsburg

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

After Colonial Williamsburg's inaugural Halloween programming drew more than 10,000 people to the historic area last October, the return of "A Haunting on DoG Street" seemed inevitable.

How it would return, though, was less certain. Would it continue the same Blackbeard storyline as last year?

Robert Currie, director of entertainment at Colonial Williamsburg, said that during initial creative meetings for the 2016 program, the team started researching the history of Blackbeard in the area. This led to researching sea myths and monsters of the time and, eventually, the "Curse of the Sea Witch" was born.

"It gave us a lot of new characters and interesting story lines to play with," he said.

Here's the basic premise. Blackbeard's severed head, in the hands of a sea witch, contains immense power, but someone has stolen the head. So the sea witches place a curse on Williamsburg. The curse summons Blackbeard's crew from the dead, a curse that will remain until Blackbeard's head is found.

While the sea witch tale does capture the "folklore feeling" present in the 18th century, Currie said it's mostly just fun, both for the guests and the Colonial Williamsburg team.

"It touches on the main reason why we do Halloween," he said. "It just shows that you can have a lot of fun here."

And "A Haunting on DoG Street" is all-hands-on-deck for the foundation. The live program involves around 75 interpreters each of the four nights, but the entire production encompassed everyone from the costume department to social media team.

"While we had already showcased the spookier side of the area's history with popular year-round program like the Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk and Cry Witch!, until last year, we did not fully realize Halloween's potential to engage guests and showcase our staff's remarkable talents," said Joe Straw, foundation spokesperson.

The evenings begin with free trick-or-treating, made possible for a second year by Mars Chocolate North America, and kid-friendly "A Pirates Life for Me" activities. But come 8 p.m., the sea witches descend. "Curse of the Sea Witch" is recommended for guests ages 13 and up.

Currie, who started at Colonial Williamsburg in February, said he drew some inspiration from the "Sleep No More" production in New York City. Set in an old hotel, this theater experience based loosely on "Macbeth" allowed audiences to follow whichever character they chose through the hotel.

"The fun of this year is that we really tried to design it as a free-flowing experience," Currie said. "The idea on the street is that the whole street is a stage."

From the Tavern of Terror haunted house experience to screenings of "The Black Pirate" at the Charlton Stage, Currie said guests create their own experience. But he advised not to miss the grand finale at Capitol circle at 9:45 p.m.

Overall, it's a different sort of Halloween experience, Currie said. It's more than just scares.

"I think we're into telling stories," he said.

Tickets to all Saturday night programming are sold out, though limited space still remains for Friday, Sunday and Monday. Free trick-or-treating for children is sold out.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Curse of the Sea Witch

When: 8-10 p.m., Oct. 28-31

Where: Colonial Williamsburg

Tickets: $25, call 855-296-6627 or visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/haunting

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