Tonight! Durham Mardi Gras 2023!!!

The weather is just perfect for the Durham Mardi Gras celebration TONIGHT in the Bull City! The fun starts with a min-parade at 6:30pm lead by the Bulltown Strutters from “the “Major” Bull in CCB plaza. Be sure to get there a little early to see all the krewes decked out in their Mardi Gras flare and listen to local musican jam. The crowd will then stroll down to Motorco to kickoff a family friendly evening of live music starting at 7pm. Multiple bands will be playing at three different locations all within walking distance of each other (The Blue Note Grill, Motorco, and The Pit). Additional deatils and band schedules are posted to the official facebook event here. Happy Fat Tuesday!

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“Come From Away” – Shines Brighter Than Ever at DPAC!

North American Tour “Come From Away” – Photo courtesy: Matthew Murphy

This is the second time I have seen Come From Away, and it remains one of the best shows I have ever seen. We all have our own story about where we were on September 11, 2001. It is a day none of us will ever forget and for so many it still evokes raw emotions. Even now, more than twenty years later I tend to shy away from movies and stories about that day. I am however drawn to stories that show the good in people and their ability to come together as a community and show the very best of humanity in the face of the worst. That is exactly what the musical Come From Away is all about. This production is a wonderful uplifting performance about the power of community and strength of human spirit. Yes, the backdrop of this story are the attacks, but its focus is on the good born out in response and not the dark.

“Come From Away” is the inspiring story about how a small town in Newfoundland that unexpectedly finds themselves host to over 7,000 stranded airline passengers from 38 planes diverted to their small airport in the wake of the terrorist attacks that day. The musical opens by introducing us to the residents of the small town of Gander played by twelve actors who tirelessly perform nonstop on stage for over an hour and a half with no intermission as they use small wardrobe changes to seamlessly transition from portraying local townsfolk to stranded plane passengers. There isn’t an actor on stage who doesn’t find themselves playing at least three different parts.

North American Tour “Come From Away” – Photo courtesy: Matthew Murphy

Each member of the cast does a beautiful and thoughtful job with each character they play. They capture the anxiety of the plane passengers starving for information as they wait stranded on the tarmac, while also bringing a wit and humor to their roles as residents of Gander as they struggle to deal with the logistical issues that come with the sudden influx of people from around the world in their small town.

The set is minamal with just a few tables and chairs moved around to quickly change scenes between the plane and shelters throughout the town. Set designers make clever us of a rotating stage to create motion and the transition of time as the passengers and locals slowly come to terms with unfolding events as the stranded passengers settle in to the town over five days amid local scrambling for supplies to provide for them and the new arrivals struggle to come to terms with what happened and connect with their loved ones in the United States to let them know they are alright.

A few of the standout performances for me we delivered by Marika Aubrey, who plays Captain Beverly Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines plane. She has a wonderful solo, “Me and the Sky” that captures her lifelong desire to fly and her dismay at the use of the things she loves as a weapon.  James Kall is delightful as Nick, a Brit who finds himself falling for a fellow passenger named Diane (played by Christine Toy Johnson) from Texas. It isn’t all laughs however as some of the harsh realities of the events that day impact some of the passengers directly. Hannah, played by Danielle K. Thomas reminds brings levity to the story as she anguishes over not being able to reach her son who is a New York firefighter. In the end the passengers and the townspeople all lean on each other to help one another cope with the unfolding events of the day.

North American Tour “Come From Away” – Photo courtesy: Matthew Murphy

I also need to give a quick nod to the amazing musicians in this production. They are on stage hidden behind a few trees on the set, and simply put they are FANTASTIC and bring a special energy to the show. I am so glad they have their moment to shine during at the final curtain!

At its core this show is about how even during the darkest times people will open their hearts and their homes to help strangers in a time of need. You will experience the full range of emotions seeing this production, but I promise you will come out smiling and feeling optimistic about humanity. This show is not to be missed. Truly one of my all-time favorite performances at DPAC.

“Come From Away” has performances at DPAC through Sunday, January 22nd. For tickets visit

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Weekend Pick: Under the Silver Moon Lantern Parade in Downtown Cary – Saturday, January 14th

The weather looks perfect for the “Under the Silver Moon” Lantern Parade in downtown Cary this Saturday, January 14th at 6pm. This event is a collaboration between A River of Light and the Town of Cary as part of their GLOW 2023 outdoor exhibit. Over the past three months internationally-renowned visual teaching-artist Gowri Savoor hosted a series of lantern making workshops for residents to help them create beautiful lanterns. This weekend they will be put to use as the community comes together on a perfect winter evening to parade from the Herbert Community Center to Cary Town Hall (approximately 15 minute walk). The event will include live music from the Bulltown Strutters as well as a drum circle by OneTribe Rythms and fire dancing by Caroleeena’s Circle of Joy.

This event is FREE & family friendly, everyone is welcome (except our furry friends please, they’ll have more fun at home).

Additional Event Details:

– Free parking is available in the multi-story parking garage right opposite the community center.

– Arrive at 6pm and take your place in line, or line the parade route.

– Hot drinks & baked goods will be available for purchase from Buzzy Bakes Bakeshop food truck.

– The event will conclube by 7.30pm at the latest.

– You do not need a lantern to walk in the parade or join in the fun, but if you have a lantern, please bring it along!

If you want to make a latern to parade with here is a great instructional video by Gowri Savoor on how to make one at home.

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Exploring Pizza – Coronato Pizza in Carrboro is a Must Visit!

I’ve had Coronato Pizza on my list of places to visit since Chef Teddy Diggs launched the Roman-style pizzeria in Carrboro back in 2019. For one reason or another I never made it over there until this past weekend. I am happy to report it was worth the wait and I am already looking forward to going back! Coronato is unique in that they serve up Roman style pizza which uses dough rolled very thin making for a crispy cracker-like crust. I like all kinds of pizza, but this was definitely among the best pizza I have ever had.

Chef Teddy Diggs has an impressive culinary background from his time spent working in highly rated restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, Washington, D.C. and most recently Chapel Hill. He has also sharpened his skills with several research trips to Italy that inspire his menu at Coronato while also honoring local sources of ingredients whenever possible.

On this first visit we ordered the ‘Americano’ (with pepperoni) and the ‘Roma’ (artichokes and olives) pies and both were outstanding. Normally my wife and I could polish both off between the two of us, but we had a few slices left at the end of our meal because we just had to order a few of the tempting starters off the menu as well.

We started with the pickled seasonal vegetables and truffle fries and I highly recommend them both! I’m not even a big veggie person but those pickled veggies were so tasty. I’ll likely have to get them again on our next visit, but we are also looking forward to ordering the roasted eggplant meatballs. We would have gotten them this time but knew we would be too full to enjoy them properly. Honestly everything on the menu sounded incredible and we are looking forward to trying something new on each future visit.

Coronato also offers a wide selection of enticing non-alcoholic cocktails in addition to Italian wines and beer. We had an excellent Chianti that paired nicely with our meal. There were several mocktails that caught my eye that I hope to try out next time as well. Everything about our first visit to Coronato was excellent, from the delicious food to the attentive service. Eating there was the highlight of an already great weekend and we look forward to going back soon!

Coronato is located just a few minutes outside of downtown Carrboro in the South Green Shopping Center with easy ample parking. They are open for dine-in Tuesday-Saturday (4pm-9pm) and for Takeout Only on Sunday & Monday (3pm-8pm). Follow them over on instagram at @coronatopizza for more tempting photos of their delicious pizza!

Coronato Pizza
101 Two Hills Drive #140
Carrboro, NC 27510

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Review: TINA – The Tina Turner Musical Rocks the DPAC!

Zurin Villanueva as Tina in The Tina Turner Muscial – Photo by Marc Viscardi

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical opened at DPAC this past Tuesday to a sold-out audience. The show was fabulous and a wonderful way to start off the new year! This is a high energy production that builds momentum throughout as her life story unfolds and really goes out with a bang in the final act with everyone in the theater on their feet.

The musical chronicles the life of Tina Turner, from her early childhood in Tennessee, to her rocky and abusive relationship with her musical partner and husband Ike Turner. I grew up listening to Turner in he 80’s and 90’s and this production did a fantastic job of following her evolution through musical styles including R&B and pop to her eventual rockstar status as a solo artist. This production also does a great job of using sets, costume design and period fashion to clearly mark the journey through the evolving time periods as it spans several decades of Tina Turner’s life, helping the audience keep track of when things are happening.

The show doesn’t hold back in portraying her personal and professional setbacks but does a good job of balancing the real-life challenges she faced with While the first act focuses on her early years and collaboration with Ike, the second act brings us to more recent history with Tina working as a solo artist, fighting financial and her financial and professional struggles to establish herself separate from Ike. Turner’s life was not easy and was filled with many highs and lows, including navigating an industry that was not always welcoming to people of color or aging female artists. But despite these challenges, Turner’s incredible talent and courage eventually help her take control of her destiny and deliver her to the stardom and recognition she has more than earned.

Photo by Matthew Murphy

The role of Tina is shared by Naomi Rodgers and Zurin Villanueva on alternating nights. I’m not sure exactly why that s, but I suspect no mortal human can sustain 8 high-energy performances a week portraying an icon like Tina Turner. On opening night, it was Villanueva’s turn to play the lead role and she did a wonderful job and left everything on stage. Her excellent vocals, dance moves and contagious energy dominated the stage just like Tina would. I particularly enjoyed her rendition “Proud Mary” that brought the house down. Make sure you stick around after the last act. You will be glad you did.

Tina Turner’s talent is second to none and the cast and crew of this production honor her with this incredible show. I would happily see this again and thought it was a terrific way to start off the new year. The production will be at DPAC through this Sunday, January 8th. Catch it while you can! For tickets visit

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