“Fiddler on the Roof” Opens at DPAC Tonight!

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof (photo by Joan Marcus)

This Tuesday night at DPAC Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher brings his fresh take on a beloved masterpiece to life with “Fiddler on the Roof” direct from Broadway. With a wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra this show is full of classic songs and universal themes as It tells  the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.

Based on tales by Sholem Aleichem, the story revolves around Tevye a poor milkman living in the small Russian village in 1905. With five daughters, a demanding wife, and the threat religious persecution a struggle emerges to balance religious beliefs and traditions against the ever changing realities of family and community.

Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof (photo by Joan Marcus)

In preparation for opening night I had the honor to speak with Carol Beaugard who plays matchmaker Yente in the touring production. Beaugard has appeared in many off-Broadway roles, and worked in both film and television. Although she has always had the bug for acting she only started doing it full time a few years ago after three decades working in radio and Fiddler is her first experience in a touring cast. She was a  lot of fun to talk to and brings a lot of positive energy to this exciting production.

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How did you prepare for the role of Yente? 

The Yente character is the “matchmaker” of he village. Her job was to ensure families would continue. She is very proud and well respected in the community.The first several days of rehearsal we were immersed in history. The goal in this production is to play the characters realistically and be true to how people in those situations would behave during that time period. Our director Bartlett Sher talked to us about the history of Fiddler on the Roof and how it’s based on tales by Sholem Aleichem. I read historical books about the Jewish culture during 1905 and  worked closely with a dialect coach to develop Yente’s speaking style. 

How has your work in other roles prepared you for touring?
Working Off Broadway has given me the opportunity to work on great stages and often to create original characters in new works involving intense research and character development. Last year I made my Carnegie Hall debut in a work for actors with an orchestra portraying a Russian Jewish immigrant in Ellis Island, Dream of America. I also played a Jewish mother in the Off Broadway show Jackie Mason, the Musical.

What do you like to do during your downtime while on tour?
I love to immerse myself in every city we visit. I’m a history buff and love exploring the local history of each stop on the tour. But most of all I like to explore and meet everyday people everywhere we go and have conversations with them to broaden my horizons and experience the relationships and beauty wherever we go.

Why do you think Fiddler on the Roof remains such a popular musical?
This is a musical everyone knows and loves, because regardless of who you are or your background everyone can relate to the theme of love and family and we all struggle with the same problems. This show is both funny and serious but most of all it is on a mission of love.

“Fiddler on the Roof” has performances Tuesday, January 8th, through Sunday, January 13th at The Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to get tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/fiddler-on-the-roof


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Cheers to 2018 and Thank You!

Best Local Blog of 2018

I don’t typically do end of year posts reflecting on all the stories I’ve shared throughout the previous twelve months, but I did want to take a moment to thank all of you who follow the blog for another great year of exploring the Triangle together. This past year was particularly special for me because of your wonderful support. Thanks to you, The Triangle Explorer blog was voted “Best Local Blog” of 2018 in the Independent Weekly’s annual “Best of the Triangle”.

I’ve been sharing my thoughts about things to do in the Triangle for 10 years now and I continue to enjoy exploring everything the Triangle has to offer. This blog is a labor of love for me and I truly appreciate all the support, comments, emails and tips everyone provided me throughout the year. So here’s to another great year of exploring the Triangle together in 2019! I hope you and yours have a healthy and prosperous New Year!

– John

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Winter Solstice Lantern Walk in Hillsborough this Friday

Each December, the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longest night of the year. This astronomical event is significant to many cultures, religions, and traditions, for many different reasons. For the Hillsborough, North Carolina community, it has become a beautiful evening to gather and recognize the peaceful quiet that the darker, colder months of the year can bring.

The Solstice Lantern Walk takes place at 5:45PM on December 21, 2018. It is a non-denominational winter event that encourages creativity and community participation. Individuals are asked to bring a handmade lantern that lights up (using LED lights), to guide them along the walk.

Participants will gather at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion and be led on a procession along the path of the Riverwalk in Hillsborough, looping around and ending at the Weaver Street Parking deck.

This event is free (donations encouraged), but the The Hillsborough Arts Council does require all participants to register in advance. REGISTER HERE.

For parking and more information about this event visit the official website here: https://www.hillsboroughartscouncil.org/lantern-walk

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“Elf the Musical” Brings Christmas Cheer to the Stage at DPAC!

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Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf the Musical” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago it was 70 degrees in the Triangle. Fast forward to this week and it finally felt like the holiday season had arrived in Durham this past Tuesday as my wife and I made our way to DPAC for opening night of  “Elf the Musical”. By the end of the evening we had visions of dancing elves and the melody from the song “Buddy the Elf” cheerfully running through our heads

As we hustled into the theater to escape the cold outside before the show I saw more than a few Santa hats and even a few audience members people completely decked out in elf costumes. Christmas cheer was in the air! I’m a big fan of the 2003 hit movie “Elf” and was excited to see the live production on stage.

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“Elf the Musical” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The touring production does a nice job transitioning the hit movie to the stage with the help of a talented cast and some wonderfully designed sets. There are a few minor changes to the story to condense the plot and make time for the musical numbers, but all the major elements of the story from the film are still there. Eric Williams delivers a cheerful performance as Buddy the Elf as he journeys from the North Pole to New York City in search of his birth father, only discover that his real Dad is a workaholic and has lost the his Christmas spirit.

Having grown up surrounded by elves and living off a diet of candy and maple syrup, Buddy is a fish out of water in the big city, but manages to spread Christmas cheer to everyone he encounters as he works on building a relationship with his real Dad and family. In the process buddy helps the people of New York rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

The production does a wonderful job bringing the movie to life on stage with a colorful and magical set designs by Christine Peters that capture the mythical spirit of the North Pole and the larger than life feel of bustling New York City Streets. The beautifully choreographed dance numbers by Connor Gallagher add a dose of razzle dazzle to this holiday story and serve as a reminder that underneath those elf costumes and business suites the company on stage really knows how to deliver a dance number.


Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf the Musical” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

In addition to Eric Williams as Buddy, other standout performances included that of Grady Miranda as Buddy’s brother. He has a strong signing voice with vocal chops beyond his years and was beautifully paired with Caitlin Lester-Sams as his mother. Together the two delivered some of the most moving duets of the night.  I also liked  the way John Adkison portrays Buddy’s Father, Walter Hobbs. He is less angry than in the movie and does a nice job of embodying the work focused dad who, while well meaning has lost his way.  The manner in which he stands up for Buddy and his family in the end will warm your heart.

Going to see a Christmas show like this live on stage is a wonderful way to build delightful holiday memories with your kids. Elf the Musical is fun and endearing show, that spreads Christmas cheer and the importance of family and makes for a fun night out with the ones you love. You’ll leave the theater smiling and humming the closing number as you ease back into the holiday hustle. Remember, “the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf

“Elf The Musical” has performances through Sunday, December 9th at The Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to get tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/elf


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Elf The Musical Arrives at DPAC Just in Time for the Holidays!

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Matt Kopec (Buddy)and Gordon Gray (Santa) in “Elf the Musical”
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

It may be 60 degrees today in the Triangle, but make no mistake, we are in the throws of the Holidays and Christmas is only three weeks away! And just in time for the holidays  “Elf The Musical”  is rolling into town with performances at DPAC starting this Tuesday, December 4th through Sunday December 9th.

It’s hard to believe “Elf” first hit the big screen over 15 years ago and has become a modern Christmas Classic. The movie made the transition to the stage as a musical in 2010 featuring jazzy upbeat score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. And ever since then the touring production returns to delight audiences each holiday season. If you’re like me you have probably seen the movie, but I am really looking forward to seeing this story in a musical format and transformed into a live production.


Matt Kopec (Buddy) and the cast of “Elf The Musical”
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

The musical tells the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who through a mishap ends up working in Santa’s workshop in the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth leading him to embark on a journey to New York City to find his birth father. Along the way he will discover his true identity, learn what its like to have a family and help New Yorkers remember the true meaning of Christmas.

In preparation of the show I had a chance to speak to actor John Adkison by phone. John plays Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s birth father and a guy who always seems to be on Santa’s Naught List.


Actor John Adkison plays Walter Hobbs in “Elf The Musical” opening at DPAC this Tuesday

This is John’s second holiday season touring with the “Elf the Musical”. His other credits include playing Harold Hill the national touring production of The Music Man and numerous regional theater productions such as Damn Yankees (Mr. Applegate), 1776 (John Hancock), Grease (Vince Fontaine) and Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Lumiere). When not on stage John works as an independent filmmaker developing documentaries by This’n That Films. For the past 16 years, each holiday season (when is not on tour with Elf) he has also performed as part of a professional Christmas Caroling Group in California.

How is the Theater Production of Elf different from the Movie?
Well the story stays true to the movie in many ways but there are a few changes that are made for the transition to the stage. All of your favorite scenes are still there, but we’ve added a few elements for the stage production but the story is still the same. Santa, Buddy, and all the main characters are there, but there may be small shifts in their personality. Like my character Walter. James Caan is wonderful in that role. For the stage production Walter is less of an angry executive and played off more as just a super busy businessman who doesn’t make time for his family.

What do you hope people take away from seeing the show?
The holidays about family, whoever that may be, taking the time to slow down, connect with the ones you love and share time with family. This is a wonderful show with a great cast that can really put on a performance with a lot of energy and holiday spirit. I think the audience is in for a real holiday treat!

What is your favorite part of the show?
Honestly there are so many great numbers, both those I am in and those that I am not. At the end of the day my favorite part of the show is seeing the reaction of the audience members and the children watching the show. Sometimes I’ll hear a child yell out a warning to buddy, or see somebody dancing in their seat just having the time of their life. Those moments of witnessing joy are my favorite part of the show.

In addition to acting you are also an independent film maker. What is it like trying to balance both careers?
I consider myself very lucky to have both the opportunity to act and produce independent films. When I am not working with a production I am working on my own film projects. But I have a love for both. My major in school was film / television production with a minor in theater. I can sing, dance, and act but I also love to produce independent films. I am very fortunate!

What do you like to do when you visit a city on tour?
I make documentaries so you know I love history. I love checking out local museums and monuments in every city I visit and take in as much history as I can while I am on the road. I’ve spent time in North Carolina before working in a regional theater in Blowing Rock, NC and I am looking forward to visiting Durham for the first time!

“Elf The Musical” has performances Tuesday, December 2nd, through Sunday, December 9th at The Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to get tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/elf

Special Note: DPAC will host an Autism-Friendly performance of Elf on Saturday, December 8th, at 10am. There will be less loud noises and flashing lights that could be challenging to some audience members. DPAC will also have designated areas to help make the experience more enjoyable for those with autism and other sensitivity issues. For more details about this sensory friendly performance visit their DPAC website here.




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