Category Archives: Events

“Elf The Musical” Brings Holiday Magic to the Stage at DPAC!

It’s crazy to think it is already December, but here we are and holiday season officially arrived in Durham this past Tuesday at DPAC with the opening night of  “Elf the Musical“. The touring production does a nice job transitioning the hit movie to the stage with the help of a talented cast and some wonderfully designed sets. There are a few minor changes to the story to condense the plot and make time for the musical numbers, but overall all the major elements of the story from the popular 2003 film it is baed on are still there. Cody Garcia delivers a cheerful performance as Buddy the Elf as he journeys from the North Pole to New York City in search of his birth father, only discover that his real Dad is a grumpy workaholic that has lost the his Christmas spirit.

Having grown up surrounded by elves and living off a diet of candy and maple syrup, Buddy is a fish out of water in the big city, but manages to spread Christmas cheer to everyone he encounters as he works on building a relationship with his real Dad and family. In the process buddy helps the people of New York rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

The production makes good use of magical set designs that capture the holiday magic of the North Pole and the larger than life feel of bustling New York City Streets. The beautifully choreographed dance numbers also add a dose of razzle dazzle to this holiday story and serve as a reminder that underneath those elf costumes and business suites the company on stage really knows how to deliver a dance number.

In addition to Garcia as Buddy, other standout performances included that of Jaxon James as Buddy’s brother. He has a strong signing voice with vocal chops beyond his years and was beautifully paired with Caitlin Lester-Sams as his mother. Together the two delivered some of the most moving duets of the night.  I also liked  the way Christopher Smith portrays Buddy’s Father, Walter Hobbs. He is less angry than in the movie and does a nice job of embodying the work focused dad who, while well meaning has lost his way.  The manner in which he stands up for Buddy and his family in the end will warm your heart.

Going to see a Christmas show like this live on stage is a wonderful way to build delightful holiday memories with your kids. Elf the Musical is fun and endearing show, that spreads Christmas cheer and the importance of family and makes for a fun night out with the ones you love. You’ll leave the theater smiling and humming the closing number as you ease back into the holiday hustle. Remember, “the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf

“Elf The Musical” has performances through Sunday, December 4th at The Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to get tickets visit:


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“Dear Evan Hansen” at DPAC through this Sunday!

This past Tuesday I returned to DPAC for opening night of Dear Evan Hansen. This wonderful touring production of the Broadway musical tells the story of a textbook loner Evan Hansen. Evan is an anxious and shy high school senior that gets caught up in a social media-fueled frenzy of grieving and good intentions after a classmate takes his own life.

As embodied with quirky and twitchy interest by actor Anthony Norman, Evan Hansen is mostly overlooked by his classmates as he struggles to connect with them socially and goes to therapy to help him break out of his shell. Part of this process involves him writing self-affirmation letters to himself

A school hallway encounter with the angry and somewhat bully-like Connor Murphy (Nikhil Saboo) turns mildly violent, but later, in a moment of uncharacteristic kindness, Connor agrees to sign Evan’s cast. But in the process finds one of Connor’s therapy letters that mentions his sister and storms off with the letter in hand.

The very next day the the school community learns that Connor has taken his own life. Connor’s family finds the letter and assumes their son had written it to Evan, a misunderstanding that Evan quickly embraces once he sees how much it comforts Connor’s parents and sister Zoe (Alaina Anderson), whose affection he is seeking.

The rest of the story hinges on the fallout from this misdirection and confused identities as the truth finally comes to light as Evan’s series of lies and deceptions spiral out of control, and force Evan to examine his own motivations.

This production is helmed by a wonderful cast using a smart and simple set to tell the story about how we all struggle with “being seen”, friendship and navigating society and trending social media in this complicated digital age.

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday, November 6th. For tickets and more information visit

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‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Review: An American Classic Comes to Life at DPAC!

Justin Mark (“Jem Finch”), Richard Thomas (“Atticus Finch”), Melanie Moore (“Scout Finch”) and Steven Lee Johnson (“Dill Harris”). Photo by Julieta Cervantes

It has been over 30 years since I last read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” so I went into Tuesday night’s performance at DPAC not knowing exactly what to expect. What I experienced was a magnificent performance of the Aaron Sorkin adaptation masterfully delivers a new look on a classic tale anchored by a supremely talented cast.

Set in Alabama in 1934, a black man named Tom Robinson (Yaegel T. Welch) is on trial for a crime he did not commit, and his fate hangs in the balance as he faces a jury of all white peers that could send him to the electric chair if he is found guilty. This is and enduring story of racial injustice and childhood innocence. At the center of the story is one of the most popular characters in American literature, the honest and meek small-town lawyer Atticus Finch (Richard Thomas), who grapples with his vision of justice and its place in the world. The adaptation manages to capture the very essence of the novel and it skillfully grapples with the age-old question: Who deserves to be treated with respect?

Melanie Moore (“Scout Finch”) and Jacqueline Williams (“Calpurnia”). Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The amazing cast for this fantastic production is rounded out with a small but wonderful set of characters that includes Atticus’s daughter Scout (Melanie Moore), her brother Jem (Justin Mark), their housekeeper and caretaker, Calpurnia (Jacqueline Williams, their visiting friend Dill (Steve Lee Johnson) who help cast a wary eye over some of the books more idealistic details as well as provide some well times comic relief set against the more serious tone of many of the scenes. In fact, one of the play’s greatest strengths is its ability to showcase a wide variety of emotions by including several humorous and childish moments along with the somber, serious, and sad ones.

Visually, the show is remarkable. The sets offer a great sense of depth with scenes set in the house managing to create both an inside and outside world. Alongside lighting and costumes, it perfectly complements the mood of the scenes and transforms the stage into the 1930s Alabama. The set transitions are very smooth and natural, with the acting seamlessly carried through.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Touring Cast. Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

The play stays true to the source material while also switching things up a bit with scenes that jump around from place to place in a non-linear fashion – I really enjoyed this approach to telling the story and found it well-paced and very easy to follow. The non-linear timeline also allows for contrasting scenes to be pitted right up against each other, enabling the audience to see many sides of the complicated narrative.

I truly enjoyed seeing this story played out on stage and appreciate the fine performance of the artist who have brought this American Classic to life. This production artfully tackles serious, relevant questions, and the cast delivers brilliantly, making this run of the show a must-watch in my book!

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center through Sunday, August 7th. For tickets and more information visit

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Raleigh Sunflower Field ~ 2022

I stopped by the sunflowers at Dix Park early this morning and they are in full bloom! The field looks great! The combination of rain and sun these past few weeks has helped produce a healthy crop of flowers this year. The flowers are the shorter variety (3’-4’) but still make for great photos. A new addition this year is the oversized “selfie couch” set up next to the field to enhance your Instagram shots. To enjoy the blooms in their prime I believe this week and next will be the best time to visit as the flowers tend to wilt after a few weeks of the July sun.

Visitors are welcome to check out the sunflowers all month long from dawn to dusk. The fields can be a little muddy if it has been raining and it is always a good idea to wear a hat and bring some bottled water. There isn’t much shade out there and it gets super-hot under the July sun!

The sunflower field at Dix Park is located off Hunt Drive near the soccer fields and the historic cemetery. The best way to find them is to enter the park on Hunt Drive off Western Boulevard. Once on Hunt Drive you will quickly notice signs for parking in a large soccer field and gravel parking lot on your right. You can park there and easily access the field from the gravel lot.

Click here for a google map of the field location (or just punch in the address 75 Hunt Drive into your GPS. For more information visit

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Paragon Theaters is Now Open in Cary’s New Fenton Shopping District!

This past 4th of July weekend I had a chance to check out the new Paragon Theaters for their Grand Opening at Fenton in Cary. The theater is awesome and a great addition to this new development located off Cary Towne Boulevard. If you haven’t visited Fenton yet check out their Instagram so you can stay up to date on the latest restaurants and shops opening in this new shopping district.

Paragon provides the ultimate moviegoing experience with cutting edge technology like the Axis15 Extreme Theater w/ 65’ tilt screen, laser projection, and amazing sound w/ Dolby Atmos immersive sound. You can actually feel the rumble of actions scenes come through your seats!

Speaking of seats, they have these awesome heated zero gravity recliners in every theater and Lux Box Suites offering a semi-private experience with at your seat dining. From the Lux Box seats you can enjoy full-service mobile ordering using your smart phone for in-theater dining for a private and luxurious movie experience.

This theater is a great date night spot or location for a party w/ a full kitchen and bar full offering chicken wings, potstickers, sliders, burgers, tacos, wraps, quesadillas, pizzas and vegetarian options. Enjoy at the spacious Agency Bar and Social or order right from your theater seat!

For showtimes & reserve tickets at and follow them over at Instagram at @ParagonTheaters.

Paragon Theaters – Fenton
21 Fenton Main Street – Suite #110
Cary, NC 27511

Instagram: @paragon_theaters


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