Chef Scott Crawford announces re-opening of Jolie with a French picnic menu!

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Jolie’s French Crullers

Good news Raleigh Friends! Chef/Owner Scott Crawford announced this week the re-opening of his French bistro Jolie with a French picnic menu to complement Crawford & Son’s dinner service.

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Chef Scott Crawford

“It feels amazing to activate the Jolie space again. We have missed her energy!” Crawford added, “We are very thankful that our customers have responded so well to Crawford Curbside. It has been really meaningful to safely feed our community. Now, with more of our team on board, and experience crafting meals to-go, we’re excited to bring Jolie back to life by sharing that quintessential French picnic experience – perfect for enjoying at home, in your backyard, or in one the Triangle’s beautiful green spaces, for lunch or dinner.”

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Jolie’s all-new menu can be viewed here and ordered á la carte, complete with bubbles, rosé or craft beer. Jolie’s menu will be ever-evolving and available for curbside service beginning Wednesday May 20th and on-going, Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon and to 6pm. Orders may be place daily from 11am until 6pm by calling 919-803-7221. Walk-up orders can be picked up at Jolie’s charming French window and curbside pick-up will operate on Pace Street.

For more info Follow @JolieRestaurant on Instagram & Twitter and Jolie Restaurant on Facebook. Sign up for the newsletter and view the menu at www.restaurantjolie.com

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Support Local: Little Waves Coffee Roasters of Durham – Coffee Subscription Program

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A lot has been going on since my last post in February. Everyone’s routine has changed as we all work through this new normal. Like so many others I needed to take a few weeks to focus on other things. As we all look to a brighter future I am continuing to explore ways we can lift each other up and support our great local businesses in the Triangle that are navigating through these challenging times.

One thing I have been doing to support some of my favorite spots is buying local coffee. Most if not all of the local coffee shops in the area remain open offering to-go orders that can be conveniently ordered online for curb-side pickup. Many also roast their own coffee and selling their retail bags is a great way for them to generate revenue to continue paying their staff.

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Areli Barrera de Grodski & Leon Grodski de Barrera
Little Waves Coffee Roasters & Cococa Cinnamon

Durham’s own Cocoa Cinnamon is a great example of this approach. Their in-house coffee roasting business is called Little Waves Coffee and it supplies all of the coffee served at their three shops. You can buy their beans at the shop (curb-side pickup) as well as online and they recently announced the launch of their coffee subscription service with different coffee options to suit your tastes and delivery options from once a month to every two weeks.

Signing up for the Little Waves Coffee Subscription service is an easy way to make a major impact on the long-terms sustainability of their business and in the short-term it will go a long way to ensuring they can continue to pay their staff a living wage during the pandemic.

For more information visit: https://littlewaves.coffee/collections/subscriptions

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“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” brings Disco to DPAC

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Dan’yelle Williamson (Diva Donna) and the Company of SUMMER
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

If you have ever been to a wedding, you have heard “Last Dance” but I didn’t realize just how many Donna Summer Songs I knew until this past Tuesday night when Summer: The Donna Summer Musical opened at DPAC in Durham. I also didn’t know that Donna Summer also wrote most of her hits or that she faced so much sexism and adversity in the music business as her fame grew while she simultaneously tried not to be pigeonholed as just the “Queen of Disco”.

With over two dozen iconic Donna Summer songs in this hour and forty-five-minute production with no intermission, in many ways this show is more of a concert, but between the musical numbers they do a good job of capturing the highlights of Summer’s life story in the form of a career retrospective starting from her early years growing up sing in her church choir to the time she dropped out of high school to perform in a touring production of Hair in Germany to the apex of her musical career as queen of 70’s.

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Steven Grant Douglas (Bruce Sudano), Alex Hairston (Disco Donna) and the Company of Summer
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

The show starts off with and is narrated by Dan’yelle Williamson who portrays “Diva Donna” representing her later years. The story bounces through time throughout with glimpses of milestones and hits throughout her career with Alex Grayson playing her mid-career years as “Disco Donna” and Olivia Elease Hardy playing the young “Duckling Donna”. All three of these actors do an amazing job channeling the spirit of Summers and their powerful soaring voice are truly the highlight of the show.

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Katherine Roarty, Brooke Lacy, Tamrin Goldberg, First National Tour of SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

There are a limited number of speaking roles among the rest of the company with the majority of the cast serving to provide spirited dance numbers as the backdrop for each number. Actually casting is really streamlined in this show with a predominantly female both Williamson and Hardy playing dual roles as Summers and other family members in her life.

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Dan’yelle Williamson (Diva Donna) and the Company of SUMMER
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

The costumes are everything you would hope they would be in a show rooted in the 70’s Disco scene. I do have one minor quibble with the set and how it was so minimal. The opening scene with a lone stereo turntable a symbolic start, but the majority of show is set to an empty black backdrop occasionally populated with some moving video panels that don’t add a whole lot to the scene. I think it is a missed opportunity to capture some of the magic and unique 70’s vibe. Still It is the music that makes this show so great and it is jam packed with it from start to finish.

For some this show may be a fun stroll down memory lane to the exciting and uncertain times of the 70’s while for others it offers a glimpse into a storied past they’ve only heard about but never experienced. Either way Summer is a widely entertaining show about a music legend that empowered women in the industry for years to come and that is a story everyone should see.

The touring production of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical performs at DPAC through Sunday, March 2nd. For tickets and more information visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/summer-the-donna-summer-musical

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Sassool Cafe Announces “Sisters vs. Sisters Battle” Against Food Bloggers, Soul-Full Sisters

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Photo courtesy Stacey Sprenz Photography

This sounds like a fun foodie throwdown! Earlier this week the sister owners and managers of Sassool Cafe, Simone Lawson and Noelle Scott,  announced the date for a Sisters vs. Sisters Battle against food bloggers, Paten Carlton and Quinn Bostic from Soul-Full Sisters. This special event will be the first of its kind and will take place at 1705 East located at 1705 E Millbrook Road in North Raleigh.  The sisters will faceoff in a cooking competition, using recipes derived from their grandmothers for an epic battle that will benefit the Lucy Daniels Center. The event will take place Thursday, April 2, 2020 from 6pm-10pm.

The competition will be a full sensory experience where the sister duos will tell the stories of their biggest food influences —their grandmothers —through food. The Sisters vs. Sisters Battle pits Lebanese family recipes against Southern home cooking. Each pair of sisters will be preparing 4 courses each to be voted on by the diners. Between each course, the dishes will be explained with heartfelt stories for why that particular dish was chosen. The winner will be announced after the final course.

Tickets available for purchase: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sisters-vs-sisters-battle-tickets-94533972657

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Photo courtesy Stacey Sprenz Photography

About the Lucy Daniels Center
The Lucy Daniels Center was founded in 1989 to provide mental health services to children and families in the Raleigh, N.C. area. They serve nearly 700 children and their families each year. The Lucy Daniels Center believes that the earlier a child’s challenges are addressed, the better the chance to help that child develop socially and academically. Their founder, Dr. Lucy Daniels, noted author and psychologist, founded the Lucy Daniels Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering emotional and creative freedom through education, outreach and psychoanalytic treatment and research; and the Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood, now known as The Lucy Daniels Center, to promote the emotional development of young children and their parents.

About the Sassool Sisters:
We are Noelle and Simone, and we run the three Sassool restaurants.  We both share the passion for our roots and “Sassool’s standard,” ensuring that the tradition will continue.  We could not be more opposite, but we have learned a lot working together and have found a synergy. Nothing and no one is left unattended, just like Grandma “Taita” Cecilia would insist. We know the restaurant inside and out, having started working since the age of 15 with our father when he was at Neomonde.

About the Soul-Full Sisters:
We are Paten and Quinn, and we are sister food bloggers and storytellers who just really love food. It all started with us watching, listening, and tasting. We were brought up with the divine instinct that food must be appreciated in its most simplistic form. The dishes we loved the most were the ones with the shortest ingredient list you’d ever seen. We were taught to appreciate fresh food in season. We promise to bring our deep roots and unique flavor combinations to help create long lasting memories and leave your palate comforted and full of soul.

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‘RENT’ Brings Heart & Nostalgia to DPAC – January 28th – February 2nd

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Aiyana Smash & Coleman Cummings – RENT 20th Anniversary Tour (photo by Amy Boyle)

It is a little hard to believe that RENT first hit Broadway back 1996. I’ve seen this musical three times since then. First in New York almost 17 years ago, and twice on tour now at DPAC. While the story remains unchanged, the energy of each performance has been a different each time as each cast puts their stamp on their character. I am still struck however by how this story about a year in the life of a group of young artists dealing with addiction, love, and AIDS in 1989 New York City remains as relevant today as it was more than two decades ago. RENT ‘s powerful message still resonates after all this time. In the face of fear, it reminds us to celebrate joy and measure our lives with the things that truly matter, friendship and love.

Mark (Cody Jenkins) and Roger (played by Coleman Cummings) are both struggling artists that can’t afford to pay the rent for their old apartment that coincidentally doesn’t’ have heat or electricity. But their friend and landlord makes them a deal, they can continue to live in the apartment for free if they can stop Mark’s ex-girlfriend, Maureen, from holding a protest in opposition to his redevelopment plans for the block.

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The Company of RENT 20th Anniversary Tour (photo by Amy Boyle)

The highlight of the first act is when audiences are first introduced to Mark’s ex-girlfriend Maureen (Kelsee Sweigard) who arrives on stage via motorcycle and delivers a hilarious (and intentionally overacted) protest song “Over The Moon” in the form of performance art that left the audience rolling. Aiyana Smash as equally impressive as Mimi, Mark and Cody’s drug addict neighbor who works as a dancer. She plays the love interest of Roger as the two struggle with opening up about the fact they each have AIDS. She truly shined during her signature number “Out Tonight” that was filled with energy as she kicked and danced along a platform high above the stage without missing a beat.

Other Standout performances include Shafiq Hicks who does a magnificent job and brings warmth to the endearing character of Tom, an HIV positive professor who falls for Angel, a drag queen and street musician suffering from AIDS, played by Joshua Tavares. This is Joshua’s first national tour, though you wouldn’t know it by his solid performance of this iconic character. In fact, I think I enjoyed his portrayal of Angel the most out of the three times I’ve seen the show. The chemistry between Angle and Tom is palpable throughout the show in comes to head during the sad but moving number “I’ll Cover You” in the gut-wrenching second act.

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Shafiq Hicks & Joshua Tavares – RENT 20th Anniversary Tour (photo by Amy Boyle)

It’s difficult to believe this show started its journey more than two decades ago, but Rent remains a timeless musical with a few doses of nostalgia that hark back to it’s early 90’s origins. RENT serves as a reminder that the strength to endure and the compassion and support of our friends and loved ones is what can help us maintain that unbreakable spirit that flows through each and every one of us as we travel through life – as long as we focus on what counts.

RENT plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, February 2nd. For more information and to order tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/rent-1

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