Wake Forest Herb Festival Starts This Friday!

The 20th annual Wake Forest HerbFest will be held April 19-21 and 26-28 in downtown Wake Forest at 525 S. White Street. The festival runs from 9am until 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 10am – 4pm on Sundays.

The Annual event will feature a variety of vendors appealing to those interested in herbs, gardening, home, cooking and a healthy lifestyle. They have a HUGE selection of Non GMO organic herbs, heritage tomatoes, heirloom vegetable plants & local grown perennials.

Dave Devlin will perform Saturday April 20 beginning at 11 am, and Sunday April 21 at 1 pm. Saturday, April 27, the Franklin Academy Jazz Band, always a big draw, will entertain the crowd.

HerbFest is family friendly and as always, a free event, held outdoors rain or shine. For more information about the festival check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Herbfest/


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“Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical” Comes to DPAC April 24th!


Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical – Performs at DPAC April 24th

It’s hard to believe but the cult classic film “Cruel Intentions” starring Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillipe and Sarah Michelle Geller opened in theaters 20 years ago. Now the movie and it’s amazing 90’s soundtrack are coming to life on stage. Following sold-out runs in Los Angeles and a critically acclaimed, sold-out run in New York City, Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical launched its first national tour this past March and will make a stop at DPAC for a one night only performance next Wednesday, April 24th!

Based on the French novel, Les Liasions Dangereuses, this production tells the a tale of manipulation, seduction and revenge set among wealthy teenagers attending high school in New York City. Seduced by revenge and fueled by passion, the two diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet and set out to destroy and innocent girl and anyone who gets in their way. As their plan unfolds they find themselves entangled in a web of secrets, temptation, and the cruelest game of all: love.

Featuring your favorite throwback hits by artists like Boyz II Men, Christina Aguilera, REM, *NSYNC, and, of course, Britney Spears, this intoxicating new musical is “the ultimate night out” for any 90’s fan!


Dara Orland

In anticipation of the show next week I spoke with Dara Orland who plays Mrs. Bunny Caldwell in the production. Dara graduated with a BFA in Drama from the acclaimed NYU Tisch School of the Arts and has performed around the country and in multiple NYC productions and has had her choreography performed internationally and Off-Broadway.

When did you realize theater would be your life?
Basically as soon as I was walking and talking I was signing and dancing. My parents recognized my desire to perform for whoever would watch at an early age and enrolled me in singing and dancing classes early on. Then when I was in high school I performed in all the school musicals. My love for performance just never stopped and I went on to study theater at NYU.

What’s it like to be both a choreographer and actor in Theater?
Oh it definitely presents some unique challenges when you are involved in the choreography of a show you are also acting in. While I am not doing both for this show I have played both roles in the past and you have to be mindful of what you are supposed to be doing on stage and try to block out all the other direction you have given to the other actors on where they need to be in each scene and the choreography cues. It is a lot of information swimming in your head and you have the be on top of your part!

What is it like to play the role of  Mrs. Bunny Caldwell?
Well it is kind of funny to be playing in a role of an older woman. I’m actually 27 and my character is a mom with a high school aged daughter so she is older. But the hair and makeup and wardrobe really do transform me into the role of an older woman. It also work great for me to play this role as  we are a small cast and when I don’t have a scene as Mrs. Bunny Caldwell I can perform as part of the ensemble cast in the high school scenes portraying a younger character.

Is the musical different from the movie in many ways?
The plot and the dialogue are the same as the movie, but the production is not as dramatic and dark as the movie. The theatrical production adds a more flair and humor. Most importantly cast that plays the characters bring their own personality to the role. While each character represents the likeness of the character from the movie, we aren’t imitating the movie. We use the movie as inspiration but each actor brings a different personality to the roles to make it their own.

How is Cruel intentions different from other Musicals? 
This musical has a killer set list. It’s part musical part rock concert with the period music from the 90’s playing a large part of the show. When you look at the playbill it reads more like a set list than a scene list.

What do you like to do when you visit a city on tour?
I love a good sunset! Whenever I visit a new city I search out the best peaceful place to catch the sun go down. I also love exploring the food scene. I’m in Chicago right now and have tried the deep dish pizza. When I get to North Carolina I am looking forward to finding some excellent barbecue!

“Cruel Intentions: The 90’s Musical” will be at DPAC on Wednesday, April 24th. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/cruel-intentions-the-90s-musical.

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Hamilton to Return to DPAC in 2020/2021 Season!


Here’s some good news! It was announced today that the national tour of HAMILTON will return to DPAC in the 2020 / 2021 season!

SunTrust Broadway at DPAC members who renew for the 2020 / 2021 season will have first priority to purchase tickets to this next engagement of HAMILTON.  More information regarding engagement dates and how to purchase group and individual tickets will be available at a later date.

For more details about SunTrust Broadway at DPAC visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway/season/2019-2020-broadway-season



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Weekend Pick: Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday!


The weather is looking great for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Raleigh this Saturday, March 16th. The parade starts at 10am on Wilmington Street and Marches through parts of Fayetteville and Salisbury Streets before concluding in front of the Raleigh Convention Center. There are tons of great bands, dancing teams, and local groups in the parade. I think my favorite thing about it is all the dogs! I’ve never seen so many four-legged friends in a parade before!

After the parad the party continues with music and entertainment at the festival on City Plaza on Fayetteville Street. For more info about the parade visit http://raleighstpats.org

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Tap Dogs Dances Its Way on Stage at DPAC Next Week!


2018-19 International Tour Cast of “Tap Dogs” (Photo by Chris Richardson)

The stage at DPAC is going to take a pounding next week….literally, when it will be home to the amazing tap skills of the Tap Dogs crew when they bring their high energy tap show to the Bull City  next Tuesday, March 19th and Wednesday, March 20th.  This performance serves up an intermission free 85-minute high-intensity show filled from end to end with precision tap dancing moves and heart pounding rhythms and  music.

The performance is part dance and part rock concert with dancers showing off their skills on a set that resembles a construction site. The setting lends itself well to different surfaces and building materials like metal girders and moving platforms the dancers can manipulate for amazing stunts and tap routines. The set also includes a large digital screen background with a colorful light production blended into the performance making for an exciting backdrop to the dancers.


2018-19 International Tour Cast of “Tap Dogs” (Photo by Chris Richardson)

The popularity of Tap dogs has helped propel the popularity of tap in the United States and around the world and helped shaped the world of modern tap and features an amazing internal cast of dancers and musicians. It’s a small but tight cast with 6 guys tapping rounded out with two extremely talented female musicians adding a high-energy beat to accompany the tap moves.

Nathanial Hancock is one of the six talented tap dancers currently touring with the production and adding to the fancy footwork delighting fans all over the world. He has performed with Tap Dogs throughout Europe, Asia, Bahrain, UAE, Australia, and South Africa over the past 7 years.


2018-19 International Tour Cast of “Tap Dogs” (Photo by Chris Richardson)

Nathanial’s love of rhythm and unique, intricate time signatures place him at the forefront of modern tap dance in Australia. He has toured with the production for the past seven years and when he is not touring he is teaching tap in his home country of Australia. I spoke Nathaniel last week by phone to learn a little more about his journey to the stage and what the audience can expect from the show at DPAC.


Nathanial Hancock

When did you first know you wanted to be a tap dancer?
I pretty much knew I wanted to dance since I was a little kid. My first exposure was seeing Gene Kelly tap in the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” when I was around 6 years old. Then I saw tap dogs in Brisbane when I was just 11 years old and I knew tap is what I wanted to do!

What can Audiences expect at the show?
This is a high-intensity high energy show filled with amazing tap footwork all choreographed beautifully with music performed live on stage. There is no dialogue, just dancing and music. It’s very much like a rock concert, but with the rhythm and intensity of tap!

How has the show changed over the years?
Well Tap Dogs has been touring for almost 23 years. I’ve been with the Production for 7 years now. We added the two female musicians in recent years and modified the sets. There has also been the addition of an amazing light and digital screens to adding to the overall visual experience to attending the show.

What do you think makes this show so popular
It’s a family-friendly show that is accessible for everyone regardless of your experience with tap. There is dancing, music which really offers something for everyone to enjoy. Most if all, because there is no dialogue there is not language barrier so everyone all over the world can enjoy the performance as it speaks through the universal language of dance.

“Tap Dogs” has performances at DPAC Tuesday, March 19th and Wednesday, March 20th. through through Sunday February 17th. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/tap-dogs


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Boxyard RTP Coming in 2020!


Boxyard RTP – Coming in 2020

Cool announcement out of from Research Triangle Park today. Boxyard RTP, a 15,000-square-foot cargotecture development, will be coming to the Frontier RTP campus (Highway 54 near T.W. Alexander Drive) in 2020.

Plans for Boxyard RTP include space for up to nine food and beverage vendors, as well as several retailers and service providers. The site will be designed to support retail and dining entrepreneurship in the Triangle. Food and beverage container spaces will come with partial kitchen equipment upfits, enabling smaller businesses to focus on preparing food rather thanexpensive overhead.

The unique development will also be home to a rich program of events, providing social, educational and health-oriented opportunities to patrons. Covered spaces for seating, special events and performances will be located throughout Boxyard RTP, creating an indoor/outdoor shopping and dining experience to enjoy year round. The complex will be people and dog-friendly, and is adjacent to an existing public dog park on the Frontier RTP campus.

For more information check out https://boxyard.rtp.org/ and follow them on instagram at @boxyardrtp.


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Durham Mardi Gras Celebration this Tuesday!

Durham Mardi Gras is one of my favorite local events! This Tuesday night you can catch New Orleans inspired music and festivities on 5 stages in the Bull City (all within walking distance of each other). Best of all it is all FREE and open to everyone. Check out the full music schedule below and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Durham Mardi Gras 2019 Schedule:

Motorco (723 Rigsbee Avenue)
7:30 – Phil Cook
9:15 – The Bulltown Strutters

The Blue Note Grill (709 Washington Street)
8:00 – Ragweed Brass
9:45 – Lester Coalbanks & the Seven Sorrows

Fullsteam Brewery (726 Rigsbee Avenue)
8:30 – Mystery Hillbillies
10:00 – 11:15 Ally J

The Pit Authentic Barbecue in Durham (321 W Geer Street)
8:00 – Shamu Garcon
9:30 – Cajammers

the bar… durham (711 Rigsbee Avenue)
9:30 The Mardi Gras Drag Show


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Five Places to Celebrate National Margarita Day!


National Margarita Day is Friday February 22nd (photo courtesy Gonza Tacos)

I love a good margarita! While it is a little funny that “National Margarita Day” is celebrated in the dead of winter it is a welcome escape and a friendly reminder of the warm spring and summer weather that is just around the corner. Here are my top five picks (in no particular order) of great places to celebrate with a delicious cocktail this Friday.

1. Gonza Tacos y Tequila
With five locations across the Triangle Gonza Tacos y Tequila is the perfect spot to meet with friends and celebrate the end of a busy the work week. This Friday each location will feature their tasty grapefruit/rosemary margarita alongside their classic cocktail offerings.

2. Bartaco
Bartaco has two locations in the Triangle – one in Chapel Hill at University Place Mall and another located in North Hills in Raleigh. They offer a great classic margarita made with fresh squeezed lime juice. The tacos are delicious too!

3. Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria
Gallo Pelon has a wonderful cocktail menu and what I think is probably one of the best beverage programs in downtown Raleigh. This is the place to go for a simple yet sophisticated margarita this weekend.

4. NanaTaco
Switching gears here for a moment, the drinks at NanaTaco in Durham are high on my list for somebody looking to celebrate national margarita day on a budget. Nana’s has some great food but most importantly they offer $5 Margaritas every day!

5. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar
A burger bar may not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for places to enjoy a Margarita, but Bad Daddy’s Burger is a hidden gem with great drink specials at the Morrisville, downtown Raleigh and North Raleigh locations. They have a solid house margarita on the menu and best of all it is the featured $5 drink special each Friday!

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Family Fun with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at DPAC!


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The cast of Road Dahl’s “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” (photo:Joan Marcus)

If you are like me, your introduction to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factorywas seeing the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. This was also most likely my first introduction to dark humor. I’ve never read the original book by Roald Dahl’s or seen the more recent Tim Burton film adaptation so I don’t know how they compare. My expectations going into the show at DPAC this past Tuesday night were squarely based on the original film.

I think this production does a fine job telling the crazy story of Willy Wonka and his plan to find a heir to take over his beloved chocolate factory. It’s still a mixture of imagination and wonder with a dash or two of old fashioned dark human nature. As you might expect, his story proves a bit challenging to portray on stage as a family musical, but in the end this production, directed by Jack O’Brien, does the story justice while keeping it suitable for the whole family.

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Reuby Wood as Charlie in Road Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” (photo: Joan Marcus)

Understudy Benjamin Howes did a wonderful job playing the lead role on opening night. Wonka is a complicated character when you really think about it. He is the mysterious maker of the chocolate everyone loves, but he isn’t really what you would call a “nice guy”. In fact he is more concerned about the quality of his chocolate than the well being of the kids touring his factory. But Howes, pulled off the character exceptionally well, and his vocals were always on point.

Charlie Bucket was played by Rueby Wood on Tusesday night. His portrayal of Charlie brought a kindness and optimism that was refreshing to see in a character that is usually portrayed more downtrodden due to his life of poverty. Having adults portray the other children who score golden tickets was an interesting twist, but one that works well as they provide a stark contrast to the innocence of charlie. And ultimately when you see Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee come to their dark demise, you don’t feel quite as bad, because well they are actually adults…not kids.

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Charlie and Willy Wonka in Road Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” (photo: Joan Marcus)

This fun and modern version of the story provides a wonderful escape. From the catchy tunes you love from the the original film, to the creative sets and portrayal of the Wonka Factory. The famous Oompa Loompas are quite a treat as well, but I will not give too much away about them as they add to the the magic of the production.

Ultimately while this show has it dark humored moments, Charlie leaves us all with an inspiring message. No matter where you come from, or what obstacles you face, don’t be afraid to dream big!

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” plays at DPAC through through Sunday February 17th. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory


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Founders of Gonza Tacos y Tequila to Open New Concept: Macondo


Opening this Fall in Raleigh

Just received news this week that Gonza Tacos y Tequila founders, Gonza Salamanca and Carlos Rodriguez, have announced their newest venture, Macondo Latin Cuisine, opening fall of 2019 in Sojourn Glenwood Place Apartments in Raleigh. Macondo will feature small tastes of traditional Latin flavors that will rotate seasonally. The vision says co-founder Carlos Rodriguez “is a straight forward simple culinary driven menu but with highly complex flavors.”


Founders Carlos Rodriguez (Right) & Gonza Salamanca (Left)
(Photo by Trish Witek, Witek Marketing)

“This was an opportunity for us to go back to our Colombian roots and the food we grew up on,” says co-founder Gonza Salamanca. “Latin food is so much more than tacos, and by bringing the unique ingredients of South America to the Triangle, we hope to showcase the incredible foods Latin America has to offer.”

They have partnered with renowned Colombian Chef Santiago Macías, of award winning i Latina in Buenos Aires, as a menu consultant. Gonza Tacos y Tequila Executive Chef Jose Miguel is also adding his unique and creative South American culinary skills to the new venture.

“After seven years, Gonza Tacos y Tequila has its own identity, and is highly successful, so we didn’t want to stray too much from that concept,” says Rodriguez. “With Macondo we are able to start the next chapter and showcase in a direct way, our South American background.”

Macondo’s interior will also be a departure from Gonza Tacos y Tequila with the creative help of the talented team at New City Design Group.  The bar will be a main feature in the restaurant, offering Latin inspired craft cocktails to further enhance the South American experience. Patio seating will also be available.

To stay up on their progress follow them at:

Twitter: @MacondoNC
Instagram: @MacondoNC
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MacondoNC


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New Raleigh Coffee Shop: Pine State Coffee


Larz Robison of Pine State Coffee in Raleigh, NC

There’s a new coffee shop located just north of downtown Raleigh! Pine State Coffee recently opened up in a little brown building located at 1614 Automotive Way, sharing the space with the Farmers Collective and a future bottle shop. It’s a cool space, with great coffee and best of all it is owned and operated by local legend Larz Robison. When Larz isn’t behind the bar at Pine State or roasting up their delicious coffee beans you can find him out and around the Triangle on his bike or on foot running as he logs miles training for his next half marathon or triathlon!


Pine State Coffee – Raleigh, NC

Pine State roasts all of their coffee on site and serve up some great coffee and espresso drinks at the bar. They also have cold brew coffee, tin roof teas, and have plans to offer draft beer in the future. If you need a little grub to go with your morning cup or afternoon respite they also get daily deliveries of fresh baked good from Strong Arm Baking along with veggie burritos from Umma Foods (formerly Kimbap).

I think Pine State Coffee is a great addition to the downtown Raleigh Coffee scene and I’m excited to see what they do with their space. They are currently open daily from 7am-2pm and I highly recommend you pay them a visit!

Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PineStateCoffee
Instagram @pinestatecoffee

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