The Cast of Hamilton Delivers at DPAC


Joseph Morales and Marcus Choi – Hamilton National Tour
(photo by Joan Marcus)

Ever since it was announced that the touring production of “Hamilton” would be making a stop in Durham it has been the most sought after ticket at DPAC. The show opened this month on November 6th – election night no less, for what is expected to be a string of sellout performances in the Bull City with shows running through December 2nd.

What can I say about this show that has not been said before? This musical exceeded all of my expectations. It was is one of those rare and beautiful instances where something with a lot of buzz really does live up to all the hype.

Like many before me I wondered how a hip-hop based musical about one of our nation’s more obscure founding fathers would work. But work it does and on so many levels. Hip-hop is not just a music style it is also the voice for the underprivileged – a perfect match for the title character who is an orphaned outsider from the west indies, who for all his influence on the founding of our government, will never be eligible to be president.


Elijah Malcomb, Jospeh Morales, Kyle Scatliffe, Fergie L Philippe & Company
Hamilton National Tour
(photo by Joan Marcus)

In retrospect delivering the story of Alexander Hamilton in the hip-hop style makes perfect sense and is actually a pure stroke of genius. First of all there with so many historical characters in the show and the extensive history covered in both acts, there is simply a massive amount of information the audience needs to take in.

It just so happens that hip-hop fits four times as many words into each measure of music compared to other styles of music – making hip hop a perfect delivery mechanism. But the real genius of it all is that through the fusion of hip hop and the musical form, the creators of this show transform American history into a contemporary format reflecting the fact the America’s history and the road ahead belongs to all men and women regardless of their color.

The show starts off fast and does not let up until the intermission. In the first number “Alexander Hamilton” we are introduced to the title character , played by Joseph Morales, his compatriots, including the man who will ultimately take his life – Aaron Burr, played by the incredible Nik Walker.


Shoba Narayan, Ta’ Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre – Hamilton National Tour
(photo by Joan Marcus)

Every single member of this cast delivers a performance that makes you think they were born for the role they are playing. Morales and Walker are wonderful as Hamilton and Burr. Both command the room whenever they are on stage and when they share it you can sense the growing tension of these one-time friends drifting apart through life as their beliefs and politics evolve resulting in their tragic duel in the final act.

The entire ensemble is so strong, but a few really stand out. Like Shoba Narayan as Eliza Hamilton, Marcus Choi as George Washington and Kyle Scatliffe as Thomas Jefferson. It was a pleasure seeing each of these actors pouring their souls into these historical figures and their portrayal of their unique personalities.

And I just can’t say enough about the actors who played Burr and King George. I felt that every time Nik Walker or Jon Patrick Walker (King George III) were on stage they stole the scene if not the show.

The set itself is kind of secondary to what you are seeing on stage and doesn’t really change much throughout the performance. I’m not sure if the muted scenery was done on purpose, but in the end that works perfectly and lets the focus be on the actors and their words.

Transitions from scene to scene are seamless and the use of simple props works well. There is also the crafty use of a rotating stage that works wonders for scenes where multiple actors are walking and interacting, providing multiple perspectives of the action as well as smart “rewind” and slow motion sequences.

In the end “Hamilton” is a cultural wonder with choreography and vocals that are among the best I have ever seen. With its talented cast, this touring production delivers an amazing theater experience on all levels . I am grateful that this production made a stop in Durham and that I had the opportunity to see such a wonderful show that is making a cultural impact that is sure to continue for years to come.

Tickets for “Hamilton” are hard to come by, but don’t lose all hope of seeing the show if you don’t yet have a ticket in hand. You still have a chance to nab one of the 40 tickets released in advance of each performance for purchase by a special ticket lottery.

Hamilton” performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center through December 2nd. To learn more about how to enter the ticket lottery visit:


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Tar Heel 10 Miler Discount Code


The Tar Heel 10 miler is a great local race with a course that showcases downtown Chapel Hill, the UNC Campus and some nice surrounding historic neighborhoods. The 2019 race will take place on Saturday, April 13th. The registration fee is currently $65 but you an  use the discount code THJOHN and save an $5 on your race registration.


I’v run the Tar Heel 10 Miler three times now and I’m looking forward to doing it again in this year. A ten mile race is a great distance to train for especially if you are looking for something a bit longer than a 5k. It is long enough that it’s challenging yet not so far that you need months and months to prepare like you might with a full or half marathon. There is also a 4 mile option if you are looking for a shorter distance race. The course is really nice and you will have lots of support along the way. Keep an eye out for the folks playing the Alpenhorns along the course!


Of course there are some hills, but that comes with the territory when running in a place named Chapel Hill. With approximately 6,500 runners this is a nice size local race with good energy and has become one of the premiere races in the Triangle. It’s one of my favorites and a must do if you area a local runner. Hope to see you out there on the course!

Race Details:
Date: Saturday April 13, 2019
Tar Heel 10 Miler Discount Code: THJOHN (Saves you $5)
Race Website:

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Triangle Guide: Where to buy Thanksgiving Day Pies


My favorite thing about Thanksgiving besides spending time with family is dessert. Yes I love the turkey too, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a fresh baked apple pie? I have never met a dessert I didn’t like and a great slice of pie and ice cream is probably one of my all time favorites. As you plan out your Thanksgiving day meal here is a list of local bakeries that are now taking orders for Thanksgiving day pies.

Make sure you get your orders in early! While a few are first come first serve many of these places require orders to be in by next week. In addition to pies, several of the local businesses below offer fresh baked breads, rolls, tarts, pastries and other delicious confections to help round out your feast.

If you need some great locally roasted coffee to serve your guest along with dessert I recommend picking up a bag of coffee beans from 4th Dimension Coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham or Black & White Coffee Roasters in Wake Forest. Both of these roasters offer excellent fresh roasted coffees that will go perfect with a slice of pie or make for the perfect party host gift.

Here are some great places to get your Thanksgiving Day pies around the Triangle:

East Durham Bake Shop
Rose’s Sweets
Jack Tar
Bean Traders

Angus Barn
Union Special Bakery
Boulted Bread
Raleigh Night Kitchen
Share The Pie

La Farm Bakery
Triangle Pastry Company
Slice Pie Company





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Oakwood Halloween House!

Today I made my annual visit to the scariest Halloween House in Raleigh. Located in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood on the corner of Oakwood Avenue and East Street, this house is definitely one of the best places to visit to get into the Halloween Spirit.

There is a great story by the N&O from 2013 with more info about the owner, Jesse Jones, and his inspiration for the the haunted house. I swung by during the day to check out all the detail and grab some decent photos, but it is even spookier to stop by at night when it is lit up.

As you can imagine it gets VERY busy at that intersection on Halloween. But  here is a map to the exact location in case you want to check it out. Hope you have a safe and Happy Halloween!

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Wegmans is coming to Wake Forest!

Some welcome news for everyone looking for more grocery store options in northern Wake County. On Thursday Wegmans announced plans to build a store in Wake Forest off the 98 bypass just east of Capital Boulevard.

No opening date has been set for the Wake Forest locatio at this point as they work through the planning and approval process with the town. Meanwhile progress at the Raleigh Wegmans site off Six Forks road is moving along with a scheduled opening date of sometime in late 2019.

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