Radio-style production ‘Blackbeard’s Ghost’ wins national award

Actors read from their scripts during WCU’s production of “Blackbeard’s Ghost and the Queen Anne’s Revenge.”

Actors read from their scripts during WCU’s production of “Blackbeard’s Ghost and the Queen Anne’s Revenge.”

Western Carolina University’s 2016 original radio-style production of “Blackbeard’s Ghost and the Queen Anne’s Revenge” has won a “best of festival” award from the national Broadcast Education Association.

The WCU show received the Best of Festival King Family Foundation Award in the association’s Festival of Media Arts faculty audio division.

This marks the fourth time in seven years that an annual radio-style show performed live at WCU has garnered the honor – the highest award presented at the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts. The 2017 Best of Festival winners were selected from a pool exceeding 1,450 entries and representing more than 175 colleges and universities.

The show’s creators are writer and producer Don Connelly, head of WCU’s Department of Communication, and music director Bruce Frazier, WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music. Frazier wrote the original musical score for the production. They will be honored Monday, April 24, at the Broadcast Education Association national convention in Las Vegas. Peter Savage, an adjunct professor who teaches acting in WCU’s School of Stage and Screen, directed the show.

“The original work drew talent from three academic departments and the region,” Connelly said. “Students and faculty from each of the individual departments worked independently in planning, creating and rehearsing their part of the project, then came together to complete the performance.”

This image of the pirate Blackbeard comes from a woodblock print created by Outer Banks artist Glenn Eure. The original is kept at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Visitor Center on Ocracoke Island. (Used with permission of the artist.)

This image of the pirate Blackbeard comes from a woodblock print created by Outer Banks artist Glenn Eure. The original is kept at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Visitor Center on Ocracoke Island. (Used with permission of the artist.)

The show featured musicians from the School of Music, actors from the School of Stage and Screen and sound effects technicians and actors from the Department of Communication. Area residents, professional actors and members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra also were involved in the production. “This was an outstanding experiential learning opportunity for the students and that is what our projects have always been about,” Connelly said.

Frazier’s original music “highlighted the shifting emotions of the drama ranging from swashbuckling adventure, tender romance, eerie late night visitations, military flourish and of course, maritime battle,” Connelly said. The WCU Artist-In-Residence Orchestra conducted by Frazier provided musical accompaniment for the program. The ensemble represents a partnership between WCU and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra in which WCU students play alongside professional musicians in a collaborative orchestral experience. “The music showcased the virtuosity of the ASO strings and the excellent artistic abilities of WCU’s music students,” Frazier said.

The show, which helped raised money to fund scholarships, was the eighth in a series of academic-based entertainment projects that hark back to the golden age of radio, featuring a live orchestra and sound effects. The productions have raised nearly $40,000 for departmental scholarships.

The Broadcast Education Association is the premier international academic media organization, Connelly said. The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international refereed exhibition of faculty creative activities and a national showcase for student work.

The Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation was created by King World Productions, which is known for its television program syndication including “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Dr. Phil.” The foundation was created in 1988 to support individuals, institutions and organizations committed to educational excellence and professional development in the media. The company was purchased by CBS in 2007.

For more information, contact Connelly at 828-227-3851 or dconnelly@wcu.edu.