Category Archives: Events

Family Fun with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at DPAC!


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The cast of Road Dahl’s “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” (photo:Joan Marcus)

If you are like me, your introduction to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factorywas seeing the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. This was also most likely my first introduction to dark humor. I’ve never read the original book by Roald Dahl’s or seen the more recent Tim Burton film adaptation so I don’t know how they compare. My expectations going into the show at DPAC this past Tuesday night were squarely based on the original film.

I think this production does a fine job telling the crazy story of Willy Wonka and his plan to find a heir to take over his beloved chocolate factory. It’s still a mixture of imagination and wonder with a dash or two of old fashioned dark human nature. As you might expect, his story proves a bit challenging to portray on stage as a family musical, but in the end this production, directed by Jack O’Brien, does the story justice while keeping it suitable for the whole family.

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Reuby Wood as Charlie in Road Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” (photo: Joan Marcus)

Understudy Benjamin Howes did a wonderful job playing the lead role on opening night. Wonka is a complicated character when you really think about it. He is the mysterious maker of the chocolate everyone loves, but he isn’t really what you would call a “nice guy”. In fact he is more concerned about the quality of his chocolate than the well being of the kids touring his factory. But Howes, pulled off the character exceptionally well, and his vocals were always on point.

Charlie Bucket was played by Rueby Wood on Tusesday night. His portrayal of Charlie brought a kindness and optimism that was refreshing to see in a character that is usually portrayed more downtrodden due to his life of poverty. Having adults portray the other children who score golden tickets was an interesting twist, but one that works well as they provide a stark contrast to the innocence of charlie. And ultimately when you see Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee come to their dark demise, you don’t feel quite as bad, because well they are actually adults…not kids.

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Charlie and Willy Wonka in Road Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory” (photo: Joan Marcus)

This fun and modern version of the story provides a wonderful escape. From the catchy tunes you love from the the original film, to the creative sets and portrayal of the Wonka Factory. The famous Oompa Loompas are quite a treat as well, but I will not give too much away about them as they add to the the magic of the production.

Ultimately while this show has it dark humored moments, Charlie leaves us all with an inspiring message. No matter where you come from, or what obstacles you face, don’t be afraid to dream big!

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” plays at DPAC through through Sunday February 17th. For tickets visit:



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Founders of Gonza Tacos y Tequila to Open New Concept: Macondo


Opening this Fall in Raleigh

Just received news this week that Gonza Tacos y Tequila founders, Gonza Salamanca and Carlos Rodriguez, have announced their newest venture, Macondo Latin Cuisine, opening fall of 2019 in Sojourn Glenwood Place Apartments in Raleigh. Macondo will feature small tastes of traditional Latin flavors that will rotate seasonally. The vision says co-founder Carlos Rodriguez “is a straight forward simple culinary driven menu but with highly complex flavors.”


Founders Carlos Rodriguez (Right) & Gonza Salamanca (Left)
(Photo by Trish Witek, Witek Marketing)

“This was an opportunity for us to go back to our Colombian roots and the food we grew up on,” says co-founder Gonza Salamanca. “Latin food is so much more than tacos, and by bringing the unique ingredients of South America to the Triangle, we hope to showcase the incredible foods Latin America has to offer.”

They have partnered with renowned Colombian Chef Santiago Macías, of award winning i Latina in Buenos Aires, as a menu consultant. Gonza Tacos y Tequila Executive Chef Jose Miguel is also adding his unique and creative South American culinary skills to the new venture.

“After seven years, Gonza Tacos y Tequila has its own identity, and is highly successful, so we didn’t want to stray too much from that concept,” says Rodriguez. “With Macondo we are able to start the next chapter and showcase in a direct way, our South American background.”

Macondo’s interior will also be a departure from Gonza Tacos y Tequila with the creative help of the talented team at New City Design Group.  The bar will be a main feature in the restaurant, offering Latin inspired craft cocktails to further enhance the South American experience. Patio seating will also be available.

To stay up on their progress follow them at:

Twitter: @MacondoNC
Instagram: @MacondoNC
Facebook Page:


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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Opens at DPAC this Tuesday!

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The cast of Road Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (photo by Joan Marcus)

Grab your golden ticket! This Tuesday, February 12th the Bull City will get just a little sweeter when “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” opens at DPAC!

The musical tells the story of Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, who has just stunned the world by announcing he will allow a few lucky winners to visit his mysterious factory where he makes all his magical confections. Charlie Bucket and four other golden ticket winners embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka’s world of pure imagination.

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The Cast of Road Dah’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (photo by Joan Marcus)

The production features scenic and costume design by five-time Tony Award® nominee Mark Thompson, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Andrew Keister, projection design by Jeff Sugg, puppet and illusion design by Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Basil Twist, orchestrations by three-time Tony Award® winner Doug Besterman and music supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck.

The hit Broadway musical features songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters from Hairspray.

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Jessica Cohen – Plays the role of Veruca Salt

In preparation for the productions arrival in Durham I spoke to Jessica Cohen, who plays Veruca Salt, to learn a little more about what theater goers can expect from the show. Jessica was trained at the San Francisco School of Ballet. She danced with both the Northern Ballet in London and Sarasota Ballet in Florida before making the transition to musical theater and touring with her first musical “American in Paris” as well as landing a role with “Cats” on Broadway.

What was it that made you make the jump from ballet to performing in musicals?
I’ve loved performing in front of an audience ever since I was little. I also loved ballet and to develop that into a career you have to start early. So when I was young I decided to pursue ballet and there really wasn’t time for both that and other forms of theater as ballet is a full time commitment. But my love of acting, singing and never left  and while I love ballet over time I felt that I still wasn’t fulfilling my dream. So I took acting classes and vocal lessons at the Florida Studio Theatre while I was with the Sarasota Ballet and then the opportunity for a role with “American in Paris” happened for me, which was perfect because that role did actually involve some very technical ballet.

How do you approach your character Veruca Salt?
I like to think that I am a nice person in real life so when it comes to playing Veruca I kind of approach her as my alter ego. She really is a villainous character in this production, more so than in the book or movie. So when it comes time for her demise you are actually sort of glad to see her downfall.

What is it like playing a character that is a child?
It is a lot of fun! Of course we are still playing the characters as if they are children. And while the backstory of each child contestant is similar to the original, they have a few twist and have been updated a bit. Like my character, Veruca, she is actually spoiled a Russian Ballerina in this production. Choosing to have all of the children, except for Charlie played by adults helps set these other characters apart from Charlie. It is a smart tool in the production and helps the audience see the contrast between the innocence and goodness of Charlie’s heart in contrast to the other children.

Is the musical very different from the movie / book?
The basic story line is the same and all of your favorite songs are there. The sets are of course modified a bit from the movie to adapt it to the stage, but we still convey the same setting and even have the glass elevator and of course the famous Oompa Loompas. Of course I can’t give to much away about that as that is part of the magic of the show you will just need to wait and experience for yourself!

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” opens at DPAC on Tuesday, February 12th and has performances through Sunday February 17th. For tickets visit:

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New Raleigh Coffee Shop: Pine State Coffee


Larz Robison of Pine State Coffee in Raleigh, NC

There’s a new coffee shop located just north of downtown Raleigh! Pine State Coffee recently opened up in a little brown building located at 1614 Automotive Way, sharing the space with the Farmers Collective and a future bottle shop. It’s a cool space, with great coffee and best of all it is owned and operated by local legend Larz Robison. When Larz isn’t behind the bar at Pine State or roasting up their delicious coffee beans you can find him out and around the Triangle on his bike or on foot running as he logs miles training for his next half marathon or triathlon!


Pine State Coffee – Raleigh, NC

Pine State roasts all of their coffee on site and serve up some great coffee and espresso drinks at the bar. They also have cold brew coffee, tin roof teas, and have plans to offer draft beer in the future. If you need a little grub to go with your morning cup or afternoon respite they also get daily deliveries of fresh baked good from Strong Arm Baking along with veggie burritos from Umma Foods (formerly Kimbap).

I think Pine State Coffee is a great addition to the downtown Raleigh Coffee scene and I’m excited to see what they do with their space. They are currently open daily from 7am-2pm and I highly recommend you pay them a visit!

Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC
Instagram @pinestatecoffee

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Places to Get Pizza for your Super Bowl Party – 2019 Update!

Pie Pushers – Durham, NC

Each year I like to plan ahead and think about where I will get pizza and beer to enjoy during the Super Bowl. I know that creating a list of “great pizza” places can be very subjective since everyone has their own criteria and favorite styles, but there really are some great places in the Triangle no matter what your tastes are. Below is a quick list of my favorite places for a pie (in no particular order).

2019 list of places to get a great pie for the Super Bowl:


Oakwood Pizza Box – Raleigh

Oakwood Pizza Box
Frank’s Pizza


Johnny’s Pizza – Wake Forest

Wakefield / Wake Forest
Johnny’s Pizza
Dante’s Italiano


Pizzeria Toro – Durham (photo courtesy @pizzeriatoro)

Pie Pushers
Pizzeria Toro
Hutchins Garage


Pizzeria Mercato – Carrboro (photo courtesy @pizzeriamercatonc)

Chapel Hill / Carrboro
Capp’s Pizzeria
Pizzeria Mercato
Napoli Pizza

Johnny’s Pizza

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