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My Fair Lady is a Delight at DPAC!

Touring Production of “My Fair Lady” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The North American tour of critically-acclaimed production of “My Fair Lady” opened at DPAC this past Tuesday to a full house and continues with shows through this Mother’s Day weekend. This production of the classic truly rises to the occasion by both sticking close to the original source material, George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play about England’s rigid social class snobbery, while also finding a balance with more contemporary social norms and avoids the outdated theme in which female characters return to misogynistic men who treat them poorly.

In this production the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle isn’t a cartoonish and helpless character played for laughs as she’s subjected to relentlessly demeaning treatment and insults by phonetician Henry Higgins. While Sheree Ahmed typically plays Eliza on this tour, her understudy, Nicole Ferguson, played part on Tuesday night and did a wonderful job. Ferguson compellingly captures Eliza’s struggle to improve herself and the joy she finds in it as she grows and realizes she is deserving of respect. She has grown and is no longer the student.

Touring Production of “My Fair Lady” (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Laird Mackintosh is excellent as the outlandish and some-what man-child like Professor Higgins that you cannot help but hate him. He delivers his withering comments to Eliza in a way that feels more oblivious than intentionally hateful but still, his self-important and misogynistic ways persist throughout and he never learns to change his ways, even if means he will lose the one he desires. His character repeatedly turns to the audience to deliver lines about language and social class, further cementing the relationship between tutor and student.

The sets and costumes in this production are gorgeous, with lavish, forced perspective scenery by Michael Yeargan and stunning period costumes by Catherine Zuber. Everything about the stage work, setting, and lighting is top notch as it transports you into the world of early 20th century England.

This production of My Fair Lady was a delight and a must see by anyone a fan of this classic! One of the biggest question in modern productions of “My Fair Lady” is whether the director will reunite Higgins and Eliza in the end. This production makes a choice that I won’t spoil here, but it’s one that may have audience members drawing their own conclusions at the end of the show.

“My Fair Lady” shows at DPAC through this Sumday, May 8th. To purchase tickets visit

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“Oklahoma!” National Tour comes to DPAC!

The National Tour Cast of “Oklahoma!” – Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

So let me just say up front that the national touring production of “Oklahoma!” that opened this week at the Durham Performing Arts Center is not quite like any production of the 1943 musical you’ve seen before unless you saw this Tony Award-winning revival on Broadway during its 2019 run.

Without altering the existing text, Director Daniel Fish and this extremely talented 12-member ensemble shine a new light on this classic tale of two romantic triangles, one played for drama, the other for laughs. What’s different is that a show that was originally normally presented as a celebration of the American spirit has been revamped to unearths the darkness beneath the surface with fear-based hostility toward outsiders that continues to fester today.

The musical takes place, ostensibly, in the early 1900s with Oklahoma on the cusp of statehood. The basic story is the same: a tale about farm girl Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly and the farmhand Jud. Violence and the threat of violence is simmering just below the surface throughout this production.  The setting staging is simple, with most of the story takes place in a community hall festooned with gun racks, holding dozens of rifles hinting at the legacy of violence that continues to infect the social landscape of America today.

Christopher Bannow, Sasha Hutchings & Sean Grandillo in “Oklahoma!” – Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Ordinarily, the story pits good guy Curly against the sinister Jud, but in this production Jud is portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character while “good guy” Curly ultimately gives in to violence to get what he wants and a community that conspires to bend justice and overlook the crime.

Fish’s production constantly surprises with such touches as live-feed black-and-white night-vision video of the actors and some scenes played entirely in darkness. You can feel the audience holding its collective breath during some of the darker exchanges. Other scenes are more static and slow, with actors seated. With intermission musical clocks is almost three hours.

Though it does have its lighter moments, this production is often more thought-provoking than merely optimistic. The ending of this “Oklahoma!” manages to be both unsettling and enlightening, turning what used to be a happy and joyous ending into a more modern statement view of how our justice system favors the powerful.

The ending of this “Oklahoma!” manages to be both ominous and enlightening, turning what used to be a happy ending into a view of how our criminal justice system favors the powerful. During the final number, a reprise of the title song, you can’t help but feel everyone is singing the song of optimism so hard because they’re trying to purge their underlying sorrow and trauma.

Oklahoma! shows at DPAC through this Sunday, April 3rd. To get tickets visit

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Mythical “Hadestown”delivers on every level at DPAC!

Nicholas Barasch & Morgan Siobhan Green – Hadestown North American Tour (photo: T Charles Erickson)

From the moment the cast ran out onto the stage at DPAC to thundering appause Tuesday night I knew I was in for a treat. There is a good reason Hadestown has won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score – the show is FANTASTIC!!

The touring production of Hadestown is every bit as magical as the original Broadway production.. The show is anchored by a phenomenal cast that make each iconic role their own and leave everything on stage. I also loved loved loved that the band was on stage and the fact that a trombone played such a prominent role in so many of the musical numbers. That trombone player was amazing by the way!!

No spoilers here, but of course it is widely understood that Hadestown is the retelling of the acient Greek myth of of Orpheus and Eurydice where Orpheus must travel to the Underworld to try to rescue his lover from the clutches of Hades. It uses modern stagecraft and music blending New Orleans jazz, funk, Caribbean rhythms that put a fun rhapsodic and modern spin on this old tale.

Levi Kreis and company – Hadestown North American Tour (photo: T Charles Erickson)

I loved everything about this production, from the set to the lighting, but the music and cast are the main focus and truly shine as they bring this tragic myth to life. Levi Kreis is wonderful as Hermes, giving of a Squirrel Nut Zippers type vibe as he entrances the audience with his wit and humor as he plays the fleet-footed narrator guiding souls to the underworld.

Both Kimberly Marble and Kevyn Morrow are splendid as Persphone and Hades too. But for me Morgan Siobhan Green’s fierce but troubled Eurydice and Nicholas Barasch’s youthful and earnest Orpheus shine brightest when they are on stage. Of course their romance is cut short as the young lovers are torn apart by the dangers in the world swirling around poverty and inattention all the while the quarreling gods wrestle with control and fighting their own personal vices and jealousy.

Hadestown North American Tour (photo: T Charles Erickson)

Hadestown is a magical journey to hell and back again that seems so timely given all the things going on in the world right now. It was great to be back at DPAC and experience such a wonderful show after the uncertainty of the past two years. In the end, this wonderful production will leave you with a positive outlook beleiving in the transcendent power of music and love and the ability of both to touch the soul and perhaps even make our turbulent world a better place in the end.

Hadestown shows at DPAC through this Sunday, February 27th. I highly recommend you see this show before it departs the Bull City! To get tickets visit

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New Paragon Theaters Now Open in Cary’s Parkside Town Commons!

I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to going to the movies again in 2022! Just before the holidays I had a chance to check out the new Paragon Theaters in Parkside Town Commons in Cary following their $2 million in rennovations to the exisitng theater. This is now my new favorite place to see a movie! (I went to see Spiderman, which by the way was fantastic!)

Paragon provides the ultimate moviegoing experience with a delux movie projection setup with their Extreme Theater featuring a 65 foot tilt screen with laser projection and Dolby Atmos Sound. They also have really cool ammenities like comfy seating with luxury zero gravity recliners and special Lux Box VIP areas. The Lux Box seats have privacy wings, adjustable heating & cooling controls for the seats, and individual retractable tables. It was so fun to be able to kickback and put my feet up in the recliner while enjoying a cold beer while I watched a movie!

This theater is the perfect date night spot w/ a full kitchen and bar. 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. There is even a bowling alley and arcade making it a great destination for birthday parties and family events!

If you’re like me and just getting back out to movie going you’ll be happy to know they also follow and exceed Cinema Safe protocols and have installed a HEPA hospital grade filtration systems throughout the theater!

The new Paragon Theater in Cary is super easy to get to from downtown & North Raleigh and an easy drive using I-540. You can find the showtimes for everything playing at

Paragon Theaters – Parkside Town Commons
1140 Parkside Main Street
Cary, NC 27519

Instagram: @paragon_theaters

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“Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” is a Must See at DPAC!!

“Ain’t Too Proud” (photo by Matthew Murphy)

If you are looking for a last minute date idea today or simply just want to have a great time and see what just may be the best musical out there, I highly recommend snagging some tickets for the final day of Ain’t Too Proud at DAPC. This amazing musical follows the journey of The Temptations from their humble beginnings on the streets of Detroit and Motown Records to becoming a household name as one of the most iconic acts over the past five decades. The musical opened on Broadway back in March 2019 and only recently launched its national tour and we are extremely lucky that Durham is one of the first stops! We saw the show this past Friday and LOVED it!

Ain’t Too Proud is without a doubt one of the best shows I have seen at DPAC. From start to finish it is two and a half hours filled with amazing vocals and choreography delivered by a superb cast. The show does an incredible job of including so many of The Temptation’s hits without it feeling forced.  The production is the perfect balance of musical-biopic performance and narration seamlessly hitting all the highlights of this dynamic group’s compelling story without shortchanging its rich history and the obstacles they had to overcome as individuals and as a group.

“Ain’t Too Proud” (photo by Matthew Murphy)

There are numerous standout moments throughout the show with each cast member getting their moment to shine at center stage. Each performer making up the five-member group truly captured the essence of The Temptations member they were portraying, but not in just singing style – they also had the perfect balance of personality and ego that each member was famous for that fed the dynamic of the original members of the group.

Marcus Paul James is wonderful as Otis Williams, the founder of the Temptations and narrator of the show, but each of the five leads puts on a memorable performance in their own right. The choreography for each number it top notch and the vocal talent of the cast will make you feel like you are seeing the original Temptations perform. The energy and talent each cast member pours into their role is amazing.

Whether you are a long-time fan of The Temptations or hearing their music for the first time, Ain’t Too Proud is a musical everybody can enjoy. The touring production is filled with so much talent and storytelling that is executed to perfection that you just might want to try and catch it the again the next time it rolls into town!

Ain’t Too Proud wraps up its visit to DPAC today Sunday, December 12th with two final performances (1pm matinee and 7pm evening show). To grab a ticket visit

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