Weekend Pick: “Light The Woods with Sound” at Dix Park

There is a really cool event your whole family can enjoy at Dix Park in Raleigh that starts tonight and continues over the next three weekends that I wanted to let everyone known about.

Local visual and neon artist Nate Scheafer created 384 neon light tubes which will hang in the trees of Dix Park. Connected to a theremin, an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact, artists will perform songs and musical interpretations that will Light The Woods with Sound.

For a sneak peek of what the light installation looks like check out these wonderful pictures @netposer share in his instagram feed.

Light The Woods with Sound – Event Details:
Dix Park & Raleigh Arts is hosting this first-of-its-kind sound and light show in the beautiful oak trees of Flowers Field (May 11th-13th, 18th-20th & 25th-27th). This is a FREE event where over the course of the next three weekends attendees can watch as musicians produce beautiful music and neon lights dance in the trees. Each night will feature different performers, different musical themes and different experiences – no two nights will be the same!

There will be different food trucks each night and you can also bring your own food, chairs and blankets and have a picnic under the stars as you enjoy the show. You can even BYOB (Beer and wine only). Leashed, well-behaved dogs are also welcome.

This event is FREE, but please register if you plan to attendRegistering helps the event organizers know how many people to plan for, and we can alert you if we have to cancel due to weather.

For more details visit about each night’s music theme and the food trucks scheduled visit the official facebook event page here.

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‘The Illusionists’ Bring Amazing Magic to DPAC May 11th & 12th

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The Illusionists tour is  coming to DPAC for a limited engagement May 11th and 12th. This show showcases the jaw dropping talents of five world-class Illusionists creating a non-stop show packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic that will blow your mind.

The current tour features Trickster (Jeff Hobson), The Inventor (Kevin James), The Manipulator (An Ha Lim), The Daredevil (Jonathan Goodwin) and The Deductionist (Colin Cloud). All five bring their own unique talents to the stage for three performances this Friday and Saturday in Durham.

I recently spoke with Colin Cloud (The Deductionist) by phone to get the inside scope about what it is like to be part of the show and how he developed his amazing “mind-reading” skills. Colin was a semifinalist in season 12 of America’s Got Talent and  has been described as the “Sherlock Holmes of Entertainment”.

He is known for mixing comedy with his amazing skills of deduction while performing around the world everywhere from Off-Broadway, New York, to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As forensic mind reader he will know what you’ve had for lunch, where you’ve been that day, what you do for a living, the car you drive, even your PIN code. He can read you like a book!

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Colin Cloud – The Deductionist (Photo by Claudia James)

What was your inspiration for getting into the art of “Deduction’?
I was around eight years old I picked up a book with a character called Sherlock Holmes and he was deducing things about people. It totally  blew me away.  I totally thought this guy was real, but when I was ten I discovered that this guy never actually existed and I totally gutted. Yet, I was totally fascinated by everything that he did and I was really into the sciences, psychology and  understanding how people tick.

How did your education prepare for for a life as an entertainer?
When I started studying forensic investigation at Glasgow Caledonian University at the age of 16 o study Forensic Investigation. While I was there I discovered stand-up comedy. I realized that comedians are really good at observing the world. So I started getting into stand-up comedy and mixing the weird psychological tricks and techniques that I was developing and creating, and before I knew it forensics led to me performing. 
When I finished school I had the choice: do I continue a career in labs or do I want to travel the world and have a ball onstage?

What is it like sharing the stage with other performers?

The caliber of magicians that this show has is world class. I am excluding myself here LOL! I am talking about the other guys. They are some of the greatest names in magic. These are guys who are hailed by other magicians as being the living legends of magic today. THey are amazing to work with and audiences love them.

What makes this show different?
I think being able to create your own material, perform your own material, and do it in a way where you engage the audience, those three things when they overlap is rare. The fact that The Illusionists company are performers that all do that is really what sets us apart and makes our show so special.

The Illusionists will perform at The Durham Performing Arts Center May 11th & 12th. For tickets & more information visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-illusionists

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“Waitress” Has All The Ingredients For An Entertaining Night at DPAC

Waitress the Musical

Desi Oakley, Charity Angel Dawson and Lenne Klingman in the National Tour of WAITRESS
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

What do you get when you combine sugar, flour, butter and an amazing cast? I found out this past Tuesday when I visited DPAC to see the touring production of Waitress, the musical stage adaptation of Adrienne Shelley’s 2007 movie. This musical delivers an entertaining story of empowerment crafted by an all-female creative team with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles (Grammy nominee for “Brave” and “Love Song”). The production is based on the book by Jessie Nelson with choreography by Lorin Latarro  and direction by Diane Paulus.

The show will be in town at DPAC through this Sunday and it’s a real treat if you are lucky enough to snag the few remaining tickets. It stars the terrific Desi Oakley in the title role as Jenna. She is joined by a solid cast in this tale of friendship, growth and finding your own voice.

The musical tracks the movie closely and centers on Jenna, a waitress and pie baking pro working at a small-town diner. Jenna is popular among her customers for baking incredible pies at the diner but her creativity and bright spirit is dulled by the fact that she is married to an abusive loser Earl (Nick Bailey).

Waitress the Musical

Maiesha McQueen, Desi Oakley and Bryan Fenkart in the National Tour of WAITRESS
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Jenna dreams of leaving her life husband and life behind but runs into a snag – after a night of drinking she let her guard down with Earl and now she is pregnant. Fortunately Jenna has some great friends and coworkers. There is fellow nerdy waitress Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) and the strong willed Becky (Charity Angel Dawson) who both offer her the words of encouragement and emotional support that she does not get from home.

Jenna also get support from an unlikely source when she has an affair with her geeky but caring (also married) gynecologist (played Bryan Fenkart). I’ll admit this was a tad weird since the story overlooks the ethical problems of such a relationship and does little to explain why the doctor feels the need to cheat on his wife, who only appears briefly on stage.

However, despite the odd nature of the affair, their interaction provides the spark for Jenna to realize that she deserves better in her life and prompts her to take action to change her situation. When Jenna learns of an upcoming pie contest with a $20K grand prize she sees her ticket to a new life for her and her unborn child and an escape from her abusive husband.

Ryan G. Dunkin and the Cast of the National Tour of WAITRESS  Credit Joan Marcus 0385r.jpg

Ryan G. Dunkin and the Cast of the National Tour of WAITRESS
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Oakley is wonderful as Jenna – playing her with the believable vulnerability of a country girl who has let her oppressive husband bully her into feeling guilty for even thinking about leaving him. A pattern repeated after her mother before her. Klingman and Dawson are terrific as her fellow waitresses at the diner. All three deliver powerful performances with vocals that had the audience almost coming out of their seats at times.

Klingman and her love interest – the nerdy and goofy Ogie (played by Jeremy Morse) deliver some best comic relief of the night with their awkward courtship and frenetic yet hilarious numbers. Morse almost steals every scene he is in and had the audience rolling with his crazy delivery of “Never Ever Getting Rid of Me.”

I also really enjoyed the music of the the four-piece onstage band — three of them women. They had a unique sound and the upbeat and colorful score blended well with the vocals. The set was sharp too. With many pieces slowly drifting across the stage during scenes and being turned around between scenes only to be transformed into an entirely new set piece. It was very creative. All in all Waitress serves up a fun night of entertainment is and is supported by and outstanding and I highly recommend getting a seat at the diner while it is still in town.

This national touring production of “Waitress” is at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, May 6th. For Tickets Visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/waitress-the-musical

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‘Waitress’ Opens at DPAC This Tuesday – May 1st!

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of WAITRESS  Credit Joan Marc.jpg

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of “Waitress”
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Triangle theater fans are in for a treat this week! The Broadway hit WAITRESS opens at DPAC this Tuesday, May 1st with performances through Sunday, May 6th.

This musical is a story about empowerment, taking action and finding your self-worth. Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of away out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland).

This national touring production of “Waitress” is at the Durham Performing Arts Center May 1st through May 6th. For Tickets Visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/waitress-the-musical

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Smashed Waffles Grand Opening Celebration April 26th!

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Quilted Pig Waffle & Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Smashed Waffle Company opened its first Triangle location back at the end of January on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Since then NC State students and Raleigh residents alike have made the new cafe a popular spot for enjoying delicious waffles and creative coffee drinks. Now that Spring has arrived and the weather is warming up Smashed Waffles is holding their Grand Opening Celebration with an official ribbon cutting ceremony this Thursday, April 26th at 11 a.m.

Part of that celebration will include a chance to win a Year’s Worth of Waffles! Everyone visiting the Raleigh Smashed Waffle Café on April 26th can enter a drawing, and the lucky winner will receive a dozen waffles every month for an entire year.

The Grand Opening Celebration will continue throughout the day, and conclude with a themed pajama party that evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. During which, anyone dressed in pajamas will be able to purchase a waffle for only $1.00!

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Founders Justin Cox and Hunter Harrison
(Photo Courtesy Pam Varela)

About Smashed
Co-founders, Hunter Harrison and Justin Cox, both former commercial bankers, were so inspired by a 2016 brainstorming session that within weeks they quit their jobs, and a gourmet waffle company was founded with visions of changing the landscape of the waffle industry.  The concept was solid, but the trick was how to keep the waffles from getting soggy, which occurs when a traditional batter is used.  To ensure a quality product, Harrison and Cox experimented with a series of scratch made dough as a base, which created a hard outer shell, and a delicious soft, airy center.  The dough is then “smashed” into heavy-duty cast iron waffle “smashers.” Problem solved and The Smashed Waffle brand was created!

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Smashed Waffles!

Moving into a cafe has allowed The Smashed Waffle Company to broaden their offerings. “We expanded our menu to include not only the sweet waffle versions that people had grown to love, but also savory waffles like smashed Waffle-Wiches, ice cream Smashed-Wiches, custom lattes, and specialty coffees,” co-founder Justin Cox said.

This expansion keeps Smashed Waffles true to their vision of showing the world that the waffle can be not only an amazing breakfast item or, in their case, an alternative to the doughnut, but they want to prove that waffles are the new bread!

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Inside Smashed Waffles on Hillsborough Street
(Photo courtesy of Pam Varela)

The waffle menu at Smashed includes waffle based sandwiches and of course lots of tasty and creative toppings to add to your waffle.  They also have a full coffee and espresso drink menu. My favorite combo is the Nitro Cold Brew and the “Quilted Pig”waffle with its maple icing, candied bacon crumbles and powdered sugar. You can view the menu here.

Another cool aspect of this company is that they help serve the community beyond just providing fun waffles and coffee. The Smashed Waffle Company believes in making a difference. For every cup of coffee they sell, a portion of the proceeds goes to help benefit families that are affected by Autism.

If you can’t stop by this week for the Grand Opening Celebration make sure you add this spot to your list the next time you are exploring Hillsborough Street. The hours for the cafe and delivery services are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday -Thursday and 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.  Catering and delivering is also available: To place an order for delivery, go to http://www.smashedwaffles.com

Smashed Waffles
2304 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smashedwaffles
Instagram: @smashedwaffles  
Twitter: @smashedwaffles

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