Weekend Pick: Cat Show!


The Raleigh CFA Allbreed Cat Show is this Saturday and Sunday (March 17th & 18th) at the NC State Fairgrounds in the Holshouser Building.

Attendees will see over 150 purebred and household pet cats compete for top cat in 6 different judging rings each day. Meet Maine Coon Cats, Persians, Siamese, Exotics, Tonkinese, Ocicats, Burmillas and many others. Watch cats of all breeds and household pets compete for the fastest time on the agility course.

You can sit and watch cats on the judging table or in the agility ring, or walk around and visit with the cats between judging. No matter what time you arrive you’re bound to see your favorite breed being judged.

Ticket Info:
Tickets : Adults $6, Seniors/Students $4, Children 3-12 $3, Under 3 Free.
Bring a cat food donation to receive $1 off admission (1 per group).

Holshouser Building at the NC State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Rd. Raleigh, NC 27607


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St. Patrick’s Day Pick: Nee Ningy Band at Mystery Brewing Public House!


Nee Ningy Band

I caught the last few songs of the Nee Ningy Band playing at The Bullpen last week and instantly became a fan.  They have a great energy and a unique sound. They describe themselves as  an “uncommon blend of American and European trad tunes from blues, southern old time, and Cajun to Swedish walking music, Scottish reels, and the French bourrée.

They also do entire shows of Irish and Celtic music which makes total sense as they are are slated to perform a high-energy Irish music set next weekend at the Mystery Brewing Public House in Hillsborough for their St. Paddy’s Day celebrations on Saturday March 17th!

The celebration will include plenty of St. Stephen’s Green on tap, which is Mystery’s award-winning Dry Irish Stout. No cover, as always. If you have been looking for an excuse to explore Hillsborough I recommend you check this out!

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration – March 17th 8:30-11:30pm
Mystery Brewing Public House
230 South Nash Street
Hillsborough, NC 27278


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Review: ‘Phantom of the Opera’ continues to thrill at DPAC!


Enjoying “The Phantom of the Opera” at DPAC – Shows through March 11th

It has been 30 years since The Phantom of the Opera won the Tony Award for Best Musical, but it continues to wow audiences with the national touring production which is now performing at DPAC with shows through this Sunday, March 11th. I went to see it last week after having last seen the production more than 15 years ago on Broadway. I found it to be a wonderful production with an outstanding cast, revamped sets, and of course filled with all of the classic songs we have all grown to love.

01. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Quentin Oliver Lee and Eva Tavares - photo by Matthew Murphy

Derrick Davis as ‘The Phantom’ and Eva Tavares as ‘Christine Daae’
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Phantom is the longest-running Broadway musical in history. But even if you have seen the show before the touring production is totally worth experiencing. All of the classic songs are  still part of this amazing production, but the sets, staging and the overall feel of the show have all been updated making it a new and exciting experience. So even if you know the story… you are still in for a treat!

Leading up to the show I got a special sneak peek at the famous chandelier and had a chance to speak to the stage manager about the sets and the amazing costumes created by Tony Award winning costume designer Maria Bjornson. I was also honored to get a chance to talk to leading man Quentin Oliver Lee! 

Standing at 6′ 8″ Lee is a formidable presence as the Phantom and delivers a powerful performance as the disfigured musical savant who lives in the sewers and oversees and rules over the the performers and managers of the Paris Opera House, all the while longing for love to ease his pain from years of isolation.

Lee also does a wonderful job of bringing a sense of humanity to the Phantom, and makes the character vulnerable and somewhat of a sympathetic figure. So much so that by the end of the show you feel a bit sorry for him and the life he has had to endure.

12. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Trista Moldovan as Carlotta - photo Matthew Murphy.jpg

Trista Moldovan as ‘Carlotta’
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

With such a great cast at the helm, the beautiful songs and the shows score truly shine in this performance.  Eva Tavares delivers an  wonderful performance as soprano Christine Daae’, who initially starts as one of the many girls in the chorus at the Paris theater but is picked to fill in the lead role of their production of Hannibal after the shows leading lady and diva, Carlotta Giudicelli, played by the talented Trista Moldovan, refuses to perform after the famous chandelier incident and the specter of the Phantom’s wrath spooks the show’s cast.

In her new found role as the lead Christine is secretly mentored by the Phantom during nighttime voice and music lessons as he molds here into a star. But the Phantom has a dark and demanding side and things turn a bit scary when Christine’s handsome childhood friend Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, played by the dashing Jordan Craig, enters the picture and makes the Phantom jealous.

10. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - The Corps de Ballet in Hannibal - Choreography by Scott Ambler - photo by Matthew Murphy

The Corps de Ballet in “Hannibal”
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

With such a large cast (topping out at 52) there are some awe-inspiring scenes throughout the show where much of the ensemble is on stage dancing together in amazing numbers that include some beautiful ballet. It is during these amazing scenes the dancers really get to shine center stage and show off their talent.

There are several tweaks to the shows sets and new technology adding a little flash to the production giving it a fresh look without distracting from the beauty of the story and the performance.  The skillfully executed staging and lighting do a wonderful job of setting the mood and make you feel like you are getting an intimate look at the opera house and its ornate design. Equally impressive is The Phantom’s dark lair in mysterious basement hidden below the theater.

The tale of The Phantom is that of  timeless human experience. Filled with love, longing, and beautiful songs and staging it is now wonder why this show has audiences still flocking to see it after three decades.

This national touring production of The Phantom of the Opera is currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through March 11th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/phantom-of-the-opera-1

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“Phantom of The Opera” Opens This Week at DPAC!


01. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Quentin Oliver Lee and Eva Tavares - photo by Matthew Murphy.jpg

Derrick Davis as ‘The Phantom’ and Eva Tavares as ‘Christine Daaé’
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will make its highly anticipated return to DPAC for two weeks, February 28 through March 11, 2018. With newly reinvented staging and stunning scenic design, this new version of PHANTOM is performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America.

Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, the show tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it.  He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

10. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - The Corps de Ballet in Hannibal - Choreography by Scott Ambler - photo by Matthew Murphy

The Corps de Ballet in “Hannibal” – Choreography b Scott Ambler. Original Tour Cast
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

I saw PHANTOM almost 15 years ago while living in New York and I am very excited to see the touring production come to DPAC this week. In preparation for opening night I interviewed Jordan Craig by phone earlier this month. Jordan plays Raoul in the show. He is the foil to the Phantom in many ways and the competing love interest of Christine. We talked about the enduring popularity of the show and what it is like to tour with the production.

08. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - Jordan Craig as Raoul - photo by Matthew Murphy

Jordan Craig as ‘Raoul’
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

What was it like going from regional theater in Atlanta to touring in Phantom?
The years I spent in Atlanta were wonderful for me as an artist. I learned so much about the business and what it means to live in a community of artists who care about one another and support each other. My work there prepared me for life on this tour and I am so grateful for that. When I initially moved to New York it was even tougher than I imagined. I had to work two different jobs just to make rent and started to question whether a life in theater was going to work out for me. I was actually on my way to interview for a third job to help pay my bills when my agent called to tell me I landed the role of Raoul in Phantom. I was so happy I got off the bus at the next stop and and never even went to the interview! Landing this role has been a dream come true for me. It’s like Christmas. I love me job so much that ever day feels like Christmas to me!

Why do you think Phantom continue to be such a great success after all these years?
The thing about this show that makes it so appealing is that it presents you with a timeless human experience. It doesn’t tell you what to think. It simply holds a mirror up to human nature and allows us to get a glimpse of ourselves and the how we behave. And it does so in a way that’s non-threatening. So every person can have an opinion of what this show is about. At the end of the day it is a love story, and we can all relate to that in our own way.

Can you tell us a little about your character?
I play Raoul. In the political landscape he is what one would call a vice-count. More formally he is called him the Vicomte de Chagny. He is a person of power. He is the patron of the Paris Opera House which means he pays their salaries. He shows up at the opening night of the operas latest production and sees his childhood best friend is playing the lead and falls for her. He becomes a part of the love triangle that so much of the drama is centered around with the Phantom of course at the center of it all.

How has the production changed over the years?
All of the music remains the same, of course. It is so wonderful that would never be changed. But the sets and scale of the production is just huge, it’s massive actually. It’s an ingenious set design. It’s grand, it embraces the spectacle of it. Part of the re-envisions of the show is about technology. In the ’80s we didn’t have a lot of the stage technology that we now have. The lighting, pyrotechnics, automation, are all newer technologies  that we now are able to use and harness. This production integrates that technology into the show in ways that I think are going to surprise audiences.

Phantom of the Opera” has performances at DPAC Wednesday February 28th through Sunday, March 11th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/phantom-of-the-opera-1


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Matcha Art Throwdown at Black & White Coffee in Wake Forest – February 27th!


On Tuesday, February 27th the new Black & White Coffee Café in Wake Forest is hosting a Matcha Art Throwdown where local baristas will compete head to head. The event is free and open to the public, but if you want to compete it is just $5 to enter the contest. This throwdown is similar to a latte art throwdown, except instead of using espresso coffee based lattes the baristas will be creating their art with colorful matcha green tea lattes.

Black and White Coffee is a wonderful coffee shop located on Brooks Street in downtown Wake Forest in the former Back Alley Coffee location. I highly recommend any local coffee lover check out as they are producing some wonderful coffee there. It is owned and operated by two US Barista Champions and has recently undergone renovations to redesign the interior and add more seating. They roast their own coffee and offer a full menu of excellent coffee and espresso drinks as well as an assortment of baked good from Stong Arm Baking. It has quickly become one of my favorite places in the Triangle for a great cup of coffee. Add them to your list!

Black & White Coffee Roasters
314 Brooks Street
Wake Forest, NC 27587

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