The Rocky Hock Playhouse doors opened in Edenton, North Carolina in 2000. However, the theatre's roots go back to 1997. In the summer of that year Jeffrey and Gloria Emmerich were invited to Nags Head, NC to put together a summer stock pilot theatre. They ended up taking nearly 40 students to North Carolina’s Outer Banks from North Central University in Minneapolis, MN where they were professors of theatre, music and communications. In Nags Head the cast performed the musical, Under His Wings.
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 NE North Carolina was so receptive to their style. Patrons were coming regularly from the Hampton Roads area, (Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Newport News, Williamsburg, Hampton, VA, etc.), as well as from Richmond, Raleigh, Greenville, NC, and Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC. They began phoning county government offices in various small towns across NE North Carolina to see if anyone was interested in helping them move the theatre operation to their community. It seemed that everywhere they called people said, “Go to Edenton!”
While visiting Edenton, which is on the Albemarle Sound in Chowan County and about 60 miles west of Kitty Hawk, NC, the Emmerichs arranged to meet with various government officials, school principals, Edenton and Chowan County Chamber of Commerce representatives and local leaders. The reception was overwhelmingly positive. It turned out that many people from Chowan County had been to the Outer Banks to see Under His Wings and were thrilled that a theatrical production company might actually be willing to fill the void in a community primed for a full-time professional stock company theatre.
At this point Jeffrey and Gloria felt confident that things were falling into place so they could fulfill a 25-year vision and dream to own and operate their own full-time theatre. The Emmerich Theatre Production Company, Inc., (ETPC) was founded in 1998 and the operation was moved to Edenton for the summer of 1999.
During that time the Emmerichs again produced Under His Wings (the Love Story of Ruth and Boaz) and Gloria Emmerich’s first full-length “Broadway Style” musical, King David (Sweet Psalmist of Israel). Over 10,000 patrons enjoyed performances that summer at the White Oak Theatre — a temporary location provided by Chowan County for performances.
Jeffrey and Gloria were still teaching at North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. However, their pioneer spirits won out and they resigned from the University in the spring of 2000 and moved to Edenton permanently to begin operating the Rocky Hock Playhouse on a full-time basis.
Between 2000 and 2019 the Emmerichs mounted nearly 100 major productions at the Playhouse. Gloria Emmerich was the writer of nearly all the musicals. Her two-act “Broadway Style” shows have now been performed around the world and are available through Emmerich Publications, Inc. www.christianmusicalsonline.com.
Over the years more than 300,000 patrons enjoyed Rocky Hock Playhouse musicals and scores of fine actors from 32 different states worked in ETPC productions. Many college students also completed their theatre internships at the Rocky Hock Playhouse under the Emmerich’s supervision. Jeffrey and Gloria performed in all the musicals.
From time to time the Emmerichs took casts to perform their musicals on US military bases in Germany, to St. Croix (US Virgin Islands) and many times to Puerto Rico.
The Rocky Hock Playhouse relocated to Washington, North Carolina from 2009 to 2011 but moved back to Edenton as a dinner theatre in 2012.
Between 2010 – 2019 the Emmerichs also taught at College of The Albemarle in Elizabeth City, NC where Jeffrey was the drama director and instructor. Gloria taught voice and worked as musical director and pianist for all the musicals they produced. During their years at COA they directed 46 plays and musicals. The Emmerichs retired from the college and teaching in the spring of 2019. At the same time, they also turned the Rocky Hock Playhouse over to their friend and colleague, Darryl Stallings who continues in the venue producing quality gospel concerts.
The Broadway style, Christian musicals of Gloria Emmerich are unique in the world of Christian music and she has emerged as one of America's top writers of full-length biblical musicals. A well-rounded musician, Gloria is a composer, lyricist, orchestrator and arranger. She's also a classical pianist and has written hundreds of songs and orchestral pieces. In recent years, she has also released two gospel piano albums that include her original arrangements and orchestrations. Many of Gloria's Musicals are available online through their online publishing company. Click on the link below to be directed to the EPI website.