Piece of Eden Reminds That (Almost) All Are Newcomers

Watching PIECE OF EDEN, it feels like the entire Eastern Shore is working out its culture and history and doing it with enthusiasm and integrity. The play runs through Sunday at Cape Charles’ Historic Palace Theatre. (Wave photo by Ted Warner)

Cape Charles Wave

November 16, 2012

Piece of Eden is a rare accomplishment. Theater can be entertaining, and it can be an escape. It can challenge us and move us. But rarely are we reminded that theater can be an artistic expression from the imagination of an entire community — or, in our case, an entire peninsula.

Watching Piece of Eden, it feels like the entire Eastern Shore is working out its culture and history and doing it with enthusiasm and integrity. One suspects that few communities could muster such relevant and enjoyable theater.

The play is a history of the Eastern Shore, beginning moments before the arrival of Europeans and ending at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Jean Collins, the play’s author, avoids revisionism (the Native Americans are neither noble savages nor savages). Likewise, neither does the play depict the Europeans as greedy, genocidal conquerors, as was fashionable until recently. It is a balanced history.


“History” shouldn’t sound dry. The play is remarkably rich with song and stylistically authentic music. The music is original and was composed by Gwen Skeens. William Neill leads the small but professional and robust orchestra, including a remarkable performance from flutist Ally Tarwater, Adam Clifford on violin, Tony Sacco on clarinet, and Michaela D’Angelo on cello. Brad Ford and Yuh Mey Hwang add an extra punch to the final number on drum and fife.

Amy Watkins graces one scene with an interpretive dance that adds another dimension to the play’s artistic breadth.

Krystl Bono lends an able solo to a tender view of a domestic scene.

John Parker lends a commanding and charming presence to many scenes and is also the play’s narrator.

Bob Mashefski’s indubitably ebullient performance is his first and inaugurates what will certainly be a bright career on the stage.

There are countless other strong performances that shouldn’t be missed, but chief among them are a surprising number of young children, several of whom steal their scenes.

The director’s chair is occupied by both Clelia Shepherd and Susan Kovax. They have marshalled their troops remarkably well and have done so with compassion and wisdom.

During the play, there are powerful and pregnant moments which the directors allow to remain on the stage. We can’t look away and the experience is greater. Lessor directors would have hurried and rushed and lost something important.

Purists may initially shirk from the use of the projector during the play, flashing background images and title cards on the back wall. And yet, it is never overwhelming and, ultimately, adds a valuable depth to the stage.

We spend a great deal of energy in Cape Charles trying to attract tourists for the summer months. A small suggestion: let’s put A Piece of Eden on the road. It is an exportable show and would play very well in Williamsburg, Norfolk, and Richmond, where communities are also tied to their local histories.

This critic is a newcomer to the Eastern Shore, and speaking to my neighbors, I suspect that I will be a newcomer until I die. Like all newcomers, I am constantly struck by this peninsula’s unique beauty. It’s hard to describe to people across the bay. Piece of Eden gives a great voice to the Native Americans (literally, in the Algonquian language) and to its long established families. But it gives a great voice to the newcomers, too. The play reminds us that almost all of us are newcomers, building up this “magic land,” as it describes the Eastern Shore, and living out a “broader dream.”

We are asked to think about how far we’ve come, how far we have left to go, and to think about our kinship with one another and our citizenship. Or, as one character says, “I would never have believed I would call it my home.”

PIECE OF EDEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20/adults, $8/students. Palace Theatre, 305 Mason Avenue, Cape Charles. Call Arts Enter at 757 331-2787 or visit

Ted Warner is a special educator at Northampton High School and the son of actor Rick Warner and artist Jillian Warner. A poet and writer, he lives in Cape Charles.



11 Responses to “REVIEW
Piece of Eden Reminds That (Almost) All Are Newcomers”

  1. Anthony Sacco on November 16th, 2012 5:48 am

    Ted Warner, welcome to the shore, you captured the “Piece of Eden” musical play with such exuberance and spirit that I must say “it was a beautiful and enjoyable piece of journalism to read.” The effort of everyone in the play was greater then 100%, the singing, dance, acting was right up there with the professionals. I would like to take the play a step further and perform with entire cast before the Queen of England and then to Russia. Our two U.S. Senators could make it happen and the benefits to the Shore and the theater would jump start our poor economy to rival other historical themes in our beautiful country — just to mention, George Washington, General Robert E. Lee, Capital of Virginia, the fusion of three cultures — Indian, African slaves, European. There are a lot more things about the Eastern Shore that have not been told to the vast population that want to know about American History and this musical play is a start. Again thank you Mr. Ted Warner — you just may have just put Eastern Shore on the World Map.

  2. Bruce Lindeman on November 16th, 2012 7:09 am

    This is the stuff that makes me proud of Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore! When all you read about in the media is the negative news about a place, your vision becomes clouded with mainly that view and we forget that there is so much good here. So many neighbors and friends, new and old who can come together to do something simply for the sake of art and to celebrate this place. Good, good stuff!

  3. Ted Warner on November 16th, 2012 7:17 am

    Thank you, Tony! It was a pleasure to write and to meet you.

  4. David Gay on November 16th, 2012 8:01 am

    I have seen “Piece of Eden” and agree that it is a great promotional vehicle for the Town and the Eastern Shore. I think it would be great to put the play on during the summer months when the town is full of tourists. They are looking for things to do with the family and this is an excellent venue.

  5. Ettore Zuccarino on November 16th, 2012 10:18 am

    I was pleasantly surprised by the richness and quality of the Piece of Eden show. Valuable history, costumes, and customs infuse the show in a captivating and enjoyable way. I feel it is truly remarkable that such piece of art can come from a relatively small town like Cape Charles. It attests to the artistic maturity and talent of so many local people and also to the relentless pursuit of artistic excellence of the Palace Theatre management and team. In every respect a real WELL DONE applause for all the actors, children, wenches, Indians and memorable men of our beautiful Shore!

  6. Jean-Paul Pare' on November 16th, 2012 10:48 am

    As one of the actors, (Debedeavon) I thank you for your words of praise. A lot goes into the making of a show like this and the local arts scene goes unreported too many times. It’s refreshing for the cast and crew to get recognition for the hard work and long months of effort. Many people do a lot to put on productions like this. I have to congratulate and thank personally the local Native community for all their help in making the native scenes come alive. Great show all around!

  7. Ted Warner on November 16th, 2012 11:02 am

    Mr. Pare, I apologize for not knowing your name or mentioning you in the review!

  8. Jean-Paul Pare' on November 16th, 2012 10:29 pm

    No worries. :) I’m just happy that the Arts in the Eastern Shore are getting recognition. Thanks for a great review. I’m happy you had a good time.

  9. Gertraud Fendler on November 17th, 2012 7:36 am

    Why stop here ……?


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    Creative Artists Agency
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    Phone: 310.288.4545

  10. Sheila Lovelady on November 19th, 2012 10:39 am

    What a fantastic review. I am very impressed yet again with the energy and commitment of the Arts Enter team! It fills my heart with gladness every time I visit the Palace Theatre and see it in its fully restored glory. But when the stage comes alive with members of our community, as it did this weekend, I overflow with pride. Nothing can replace the experience of live theatre and live music. Piece of Eden not only made our theatre spark to life, but our shared Eastern Shore history. In the end, most of us are “come here’s.” The important thing is that we’re all here because we love this land. I continue to applaud the cast, crew, staff, musicians, and directors!

  11. Yuh Hwang on November 19th, 2012 1:25 pm

    I appreciate this review immensely, because the actors/actresses worked hard. I wasn’t there for all the rehearsals, but the days I was there for reheasals I’ve seen the work that they had to do. Thank you for the small but mighty praise. There is one more performance tomorrow! We have students coming but should have some seats left. Hope to see you there :)