The play “1766: Shipwrecked on Dog Island” by Don Denig had its first indoor performance over Memorial Day weekend as a benefit for the Crooked River Lighthouse. Actors from the Panhandle Players did a fantastic job of portraying the challenging roles of 18th century French travelers., as recounted in “Shipwreck and Adventures of Monsieur Pierre Viaud,” first published in French in 1768 and in English in 1771.

Kudos to our locals for perfecting those French accents, especially 12 year old River Sheridan who really had it down pat. Excellent acting helped to paint the picture of a complex tale of peril, loss, desperation and jubilation. Clearly this was a huge undertaking.

With a great team of set and prop builders, including Natalie and Mark Parsley, Serge Latour and Jennifer Bowers, the story was told with a lot of charm, suspense and poignancy. The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association is most grateful for all who volunteered to make this production possible. Actors Frederic Kahler, Hank Kozlowsky, Renee Valentine, River Sheridan, Bob Inguagiato, Barry Hand, Wes Davis, Rodney Reeves, and David Adlerstein; plus director Judy Loftus and stage manager Michele Boston all gave their time and talent to the cause. The Vroegrops and Greg Riley helped with the set changes.

Special thanks to the Kaleidoscope Theater in Panama City for the loan of authentic period costumes and also to Candice Sheridan for costuming. Wes Davis thoroughly researched his Native American character and was an impressive presence in those scenes.

Not every play has the opportunity to have live musicians in the wings adding traditional tunes and setting the mood for the drama. Well -seasoned players of every kind of instrument you can think of strummed on mandolins, violins and guitars, as well as making beautiful flute melodies and timely percussion. Many thanks to Christy Crandall, Dick Kraft, Erice Shepard and Sandy McInnis. All of these fine talented folks played simply for gas money, coming from as far away as Monticello, Tallahassee and Mexico Beach.

Just before the play began, historian Madeleine Carr described just how rough life was in the 1700s in Florida. She also commended our players on their excellent depiction of the era.

This community theater production has future plans to ensure it will evolve and develop, and acquire new sets, rotating actors, different venues as opportunity allows. It was already enhanced from the very first outdoor performance in 2009 with a play script written by Caroline Ilardi and Don Denig.

If you are interested in help in the creation of a "1766 Shipwreck Company," just let us know. Leave a message at the lighthouse 697-2732. or chat with us on Facebook. We think this fascinating true story, that is probably the oldest documented tale from our Forgotten Coast, should be shared with new visitors so they can learn how about our ancient maritime heritage.

Joan Matey is curator of the Crooked River Lighthouse.