Weekend Picks: June 23rd – 25th

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Here are my top picks of things to check out over the next three days. Happy Exploring!

Friday – June 23rd

The Adventures of Annabelle Lyn at Sola Coffee
Sola Coffee and Cafe continues to bring great touring acts to Raleigh this Friday with The The Adventures of Annabelle Lyn, a trio of female folk artists that brings together heartbreaking original songs, tight and sweet vocal harmonies, powerful instrumental solos, and crowd-pleasing acoustic covers. Music starts at 7:30pm. No cover but tips for the musicians always appreciated!

Orquestra GarDel at Durham Central Park
On Friday Durham Central Park debuts its new free 10-week concert series with the multinational but uniquely North Carolinian, Orquesta GarDel and their high-energy Latin dance music experience. The thirteen-member lineup has a full deck of horn players, percussionists, and coro singers. Rooted in its own arrangements of songs from the great salsa, cumbia, and merengue artists, this is ultimately not a cover band. There will be Food trucks and craft beer venders as well. Music from 6-8pm.

Saturday – June 24th

Historic Hillsborough Walking Tour
Experience American history through the unique perspective of one of North Carolina’s oldest and most historically significant towns, with a guided walking tour of downtown Hillsborough. Established in 1754 as the seat of government for Orange County, Hillsborough’s colonial legacy and signs of its importance in NC and American history can be seen everywhere. The tour begins at the Hillsborough Visitors Center, located in the eighteenth century Alexander Dickson Farm House, and guides visitors to a variety of historic places. $6

Sunday – June 25th

Oak City Chamber Players at Rebus Works – Raleigh
Rebus Works is throwing another Classical Hang on Sunday from 4-7pm. Music will start at 5pm. This is always a popular event, so make sure you get here early to grab a seat! The Chamber Players, led by Dovid Friedlander, will be performing Beethoven’s Quartet Opus 59 Number 3. They  will have a food truck, local NC beer for sale at Rebus Works and the Oak City Chamber Players performing up close and personal.

Cary’s Downtown Chowdown Food Truck Rodeo
Trucks will line Academy Street from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Event will feature 25+ food trucks along with local beer and wine vendors, and live music. You can view a list of the trucks here.

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Motown The Musical Ticket Giveaway!

I am excited to share the news that MOTOWN THE MUSICAL returns to the Durham Performing Arts Center in August for a with performances Tuesday, August 1st through Sunday, August 6th. I’m also thrilled to offer a lucky reader a chance to win two FREE tickets to enjoy the show – thanks to my friends at DPAC!

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, this musical tells the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.

The show features more than 40 classic hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and explores how the whole Motown family fought against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. Motown shattered barriers, shaped our lives and made us all move to the same beat.

Tickets start at just $30 and can be purchased by going to dpacnc.com or via the Ticket Center at DPAC either in person at 123 Vivian St. Durham, NC 27701 or by phone at 919.281.0818.

I’ve partnered with my friends at DPAC to give away two FREE tickets to a lucky Triangle Explorer reader for the opening night performance on Tuesday, August 1st.  To enter leave a comment below about a fun experience you’ve have had at DPAC or why you love Motown. I will randomly select one lucky winner on Sunday, June 25th and contact them via email with details. Good Luck!


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Celebrate the Summer Solstice with Sunrise Yoga in Dix Park

Enjoy Sunrise Yoga in Dix Park Wednesday, June 21st
(Photo courtesy Happy & Hale)

Looking for a fun and healthy way to welcome the Summer Solstice? Celebrate the longest day of the year with yoga practitioner Carrington Jackson as she leads a class through an early morning yoga session this Wednesday, June 21st in Flowers Field in Dix Park. Enjoy watching the sun rise over downtown Raleigh on the first day of summer as you breathe, stretch, relax and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.

This session is open to the public, FREE, and suitable for all ages and abilities. Plan to arrive at 5:45am, and find a spot in Flowers Field. The class will begin a little after 6 a.m. This event is being hosted by Raleigh Parks and co-sponsored by Happy+Hale.

What to Bring
Bring a yoga mat or towel, and a water bottle.
Please Note: Walking up hills, in grass and on uneven surfaces will be necessary. There are no bathrooms in Dix Park and no drinkable water. Plan to bring your own water and be prepared to only have portajohns available.

Directions to the Program Location
Going southeast on Western Boulevard (toward downtown Raleigh), turn right onto Hunt Drive. Turn right onto Umstead Drive.

Parking Instructions
Parking is available in the NC State University Lot at the corner of Barbour Drive and Umstead Drive.

Additional details can be found here.

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Weekend Picks: June 16th – 18th


Curtis Eller performs this Friday at Mystery Brewing Public House in Hillsborough

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Here are my top three picks of things to check out. Happy Exploring!

Friday – June 16th

Curtis Eller Music at Mystery Brewing – Hillsborough
Curtis Eller will continue his monthly acoustic residency at Mystery Brewing Public House in Hillsborough with his friend Jeremy Boomhower joining him with his Sousaphone. show will be a double header with the  The Lady Comes First” out of Charloote. Music starts at 8pm.

Saturday – June 17th

“Fantastic Beasts” Outdoor Movie at NCMA – Raleigh
Enjoy an outdoor movie Saturday night at NCMA. Movie starts at 9pm. Tickets are just $6.

Sunday – June 18th

Durham Food Truck Rodeo
Enjoy over 50 food trucks and local beer in Durham Central Park from 12-4pm this Sunday. YOu can view a list of all the trucks here.




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“The King and I” Brings Classic Broadway to DPAC!

Laura Michelle Kelly and Jose Llana in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy.jpg

Laura Michelle Kelly and Jose Llana in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

On Tuesday my wife and I attended opening night of “The King and I” at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Growing up in New Jersey I can still recall the television commercials on local stations for the 1985 revival on Broadway with the formidable Yul Brynner. Even as a young boy I was mesmerized by the elaborate costumes, the dancing, and of course the incredible music. Somehow I never made it up to NYC to see the show so it was a thrill to go see the touring production during their visit to Durham.

The original production dates back to 1952 with the story setting even further back in 1860’s Bangkok. Laura Michelle Kelly is wonderful as Anna Leonowens, a widowed British schoolteacher hired by the King of Siam, played by the funny and talented Jose Llana, to help teach his many children and wives about western culture in an attempt to modernize his country. Cultural clashes lead to a complicated relationship between the two but ultimately they develop a bond and become confidants that in the end teach each other valuable life lessons.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

I really loved this show. While the central story is a bit dated with themes of male chauvinism and slavery, it’s presentation is somewhat softened for this more modern version of the show, with very little actual violence and ample doses of humor. It still has a powerful message, but I think it is conveyed in a manner that is adapted for today’s views on such issue and in the end is more thought provoking while still entertaining.

Actually this was my favorite show of the Broadway series that just wrapped up at DPAC. Several things about this particular production really stood out to me. First of all, the singing was amazing. The vocals by the leads and supporting cast were world class. Listening to the Kelly and Llana was a delight. They each had a commanding presence on stage and from the first number until the final curtain they owned each number and filled the theater with heartfelt versions making them truly their own. They also had great chemistry on stage that made for a very believable complex relationship between their characters as their feelings and perspectives evolved as the story developed and two began to better understand each other.

Manna Nichols voice was equally amazing. Nichols plays the role of Burmese princess Tuptim, who is presented to the King as a peace offering early in the show. She has several scenes where she secretly meets her lover Lun Tha, played by Kavin Panmeechao. Their tragic love story underscores the long road ahead for the King and his country until together they accept the modern age and abandon slavery and oppression. I would be remiss to not mention the incredible talent of Joan Almedilla. She has a standout performance as the kings first wife Lady Thiang. Together the leads and supporting cast delivered amazing performances from start to finish.

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

The sets for this production where also very elegant an inspiring with beautiful hand-painted backdrops instead of the popular modern projections you see so often these days. The color schemes or red and gold and the fiery sunsets in the background transported you to a different time and place. Something about this more traditional approach to sets for such a classic musical added a majestic quality to the production for me. I was awestruck by the very first scene when Anna arrives by boat and the stage is suddenly transformed into a port with a large boat pulling in. Moments later the boat is magically pulled in half and turned around to transform into the setting with small buildings on the dock of Bangkok.

Finally, the music and the orchestra are also to be commended. I loved how the show started out featuring the band and the conductor (actually shining a spotlight) on the conductor.   It was wonderful to hear a full pit orchestra bring the classic music of this production to life. I think it is a great reminder that the amazing talent of the live orchestra provides the life-blood to a stage production.

This production of the “King and I” is a real treat and perfect night at the theater showcasing everything that an amazing classic musical with a dose of modern sensibilities can be.

“The King and I” has performances at DPAC through Sunday, June 11th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-king-i

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