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The Cast of ‘CATS’ Delivers a Powerful Performance at DPAC!

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019 3b.jpg

The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

You know you are in for a magical performance from the moment you enter the theater at DPAC and see strings of lights draped over the seats leading to the stage. It was a magical opening night for ‘CATS’ on Tuesday which is performing now at DPAC through this Sunday. Don’t have tickets yet? Don’t despair, there is a daily lottery for tickets that are just $35. I highly recommend you try and nab a ticket, it was a truly wonderful performance!

Now on to the show. What can I say about ‘CATS’ that hasn’t been said before? Well for one thing, this touring production based on the 2016 revival is every bit as captivating and moving as the original that opened on Broadway in 1982 where it had an amazing 18 year run. There is just something so special about seeing such a beloved show that has not only stood the test of time, but somehow managed to become even better now almost 40 years later.

Brandon Michael Nase as 'Old Deuteronomy' and the North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019.jpg

Brnadon Michael Nase as ‘Old Deuteronomy’ and the North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

The musical, based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” centers around a community of “Jellicle” cats who convene once a year in hopes of being chosen by the Old Deuteronomy, a father figure of a cat who is tasked with choosing one among the group to be taken above to be “reborn”. The audience is treated to a series of numbers throughout the show to introduce each cat as they try to prove themselves to be worthy of being selected.

The show has all the whimsy and spectacle of the original. With beautiful costumes and makeup that you get to admire up close as there are several points where the cats romp through the theater and interact with the audience. Known for it’s amazing score by Andrew Lloyd Weber, its the dancing during each of these numbers that really steals the show in my opinion.

While the show continues to delight with its amazing music and choreography, I found myself marveling at the incredible talent of the cast assembled for this touring production. For two high-energy acts they pour themselves into their roles and leave it all on stage. It is a real testament to the talent of the cast that they are able to deliver beautiful vocals while executing difficult dance routines that would leave a mere mortal out of breath.

‘CATS’ is not your classic character-based show with typical “central” characters, but there are some standout performances I just have to mention, like the awesome Tion Gaston who almost steals the show playing the high-energy and playful Mr. Mistoffelees. The number where he is introduced utilizes all the magic of the set and is one of the high points of the second act. Then there are Tony d’Alelio and Rose Iannaccone’s who have a wonderful mischievous chemistry as the Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019 2B.jpg

The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2019)

I also need to give a shout out to Caitlin Bond, who plays the eye catching “White Cat” aka Victoria. At one point when the cats roamed the theater during a number I heard one of the younger theater goers yell “the white cat!” and run over to her to receive hug. It was a touching moment and a theater memory I’m sure that young fan will remember for a long time.

Finally, Keri Rene’ Fuller truly shines with her powerful vocals as the haunted lonely outcast Grizabella, a former fancy cat now shunned by the cat community. Dressed in shabby clothes, and limping hunched over slowly across the stage you can feel her pain and regret. Typically played by an older actor, 25 year old Fuller delivers a spot on performance proving she is up to the challenge of filling such an iconic role, and her rendition of the most popular number in the show, “Memory” gave me chills and had the crowd at DPAC on their feet.

The song “Memory” remains a surefire showstopper. Keri Rene Fuller as Grizabella, shabbily dressed in gray rags and long-laced boots, as if she’d wandered in from a Tim Burton movie, delivers it almost as if it’s an operatic aria, and on Tuesday night received a long warm ovation for her efforts.

After almost 40 years the excitement and magic of ‘CATS’ is still going strong and with this committed cast this production is truly not to be missed. Whether your seeing this classic for the first time or returning for the 30th time try to catch this magical at DPAC before these CATS hit the road to enchant another city.

‘CATS!’ performs at DPAC through Sunday, June 9th . For tickets visit:


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East Durham Bakeshop to Host Baking Workshops July 5-7th!

East Durham Bake

Photo courtesy East Durham Bakeshop

Do you like to bake? East Durham Bake Shop has announced plans to host a series of baking classes on July 5th, 6th & 7th offering both afternoon and evening baking workshops for both kids and adults.

Friday and Saturday will be adult classes and Sunday will be family day- a mix of classes for kids and parents.  Individual classes include Pie Dough 101, a Pop Tart class (both parent-child and a teen class), and an “American” Pie, a class that digs into the humble history of pie.

Tickets for theses classes will sell out fast so be sure to check out the details and full list of classes and reserve your spot on their website here.

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Hey folks, Ali & Ben here! You all have been asking for classes, but with our extended hours we’ve been struggling to find a time to make it happen. That’s why we’re SOOO excited to announce something we’ve been cooking up: CAMP BAKE SHOP We’ll be closing our doors a bit early on July 5th, 6th & 7th to offer afternoon and evening baking workshops for both kids and adults. These classes will include things we’re super passionate about and that we love to teach like Pie Dough 101, a Pop Tart class (both parent-child and a teen class), and for all you super nerds, “American” Pie, a class that digs into the humble history of pie. With the number of requests we receive we expect tickets to sell fast, so don’t delay! Check out the details and full list of classes on our website. 📷 the incredibly talented @vaysgantphoto

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East Durham Bake Shop
406 South Driver Street
Durham, NC

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The Magical World of ‘CATS’ Opens at DPAC Tuesday, June 4th!

Dan Hoy as 'Munkustrap' and the North American Tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy.2019

Don Hoy as ‘Munkustrap’ and the North American tour of CATS (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Growing up at the Jersey Shore all of our network tv stations were broadcast out of New York City. As a result I have many wonderful memories of tv spots during commercial breaks enticing you to go see an amazing Broadway shows during commercial breaks. One that had always stuck out is the ad for CATS. It had an incredible 18 year run on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater where it won an astonishing 7 Tony Awards.

I think they used the same commercial during those nearly two decades on Broadway, but I never grew tired of it. It looked like such an amazing show, and I was mesmerized by the intricate cat costumes, makeup, and of course those stirring songs. Now almost 40 years later the national touring production is coming to Durham with performances at DPAC June 4th through the 9th and I can’t wait to see it!

As I understand it this production, based off the 2016 revival features some updates to the musical for the newest generation of CATS fans, including new sound design, direction and choreography. But don’t worry, the beloved musical remains true to the original, including the breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater, “Memory.”

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019 (1)

The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to one of the actors from the show coming to DPAC next week. Timothy Gulan has been with the national touring production since its launch in January. While this is his first engagement with CATS he is a veteran actor with over thirty years of theater, tv and film experience. Most recently he has performed in Sting’s “The last Ship,” the 25th anniversary production of “Les Misérables,” “South Pacific” and “The Lion King”. Timothy also teaches and guest lectures when he is not touring.

Timothy has an amazing job with the cast of CATS as he doesn’t play just one cat – he plays four! Each with their own costume, personality, signing voice and story arc in the show. It was a real pleasure to talk with Tim about the upcoming show at DPAC, what it’s like to be part of such an amazing cast, and what he hopes people take away from the performance.


Is this production different from the original in many ways?
This production true to the original with just a few updates for the new generation of fans. The amazing score and all of your favorite songs are still very much a part of it. You may notice a few of the songs are sung by different characters than in the original production. But I think the most significant change or update if you will is with the choreography which now includes some fresh contemporary dance moves that are blended in nicely with all the ballet moves from the original.

What’s it like for you to play several different cats in the show?
Well its both fun and a challenge at the same time and I love it. I have been in theater for over 30 years and I love a good challenge. When it comes to playing multiple roles I just jump right in with each character and become them. I’m of the mindset that you do the thing that is front of you and don’t get lost in what is next. The costume changes in some cases has to be very quick. In fact in one scene I’ll have part of the costume for one cat under the other so I can change quickly between scenes. It can get a bit hot! Ultimately, I relate with each of my cat characters in some way, though as one of the older members of the cast I certainly identify with Gus – the theater cat. He is old and frail, but is a paternal figure and who likes to talk about his exploits from when he was a famous actor!

What fun fact about CATS can you share that many fans might not know?
Judi Dench was cast in the role of Grizabella in the original London production. Unfortunately shortly before the opening of the show she suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the production and she was replaced by Elaine Paige. Andrew Lloyd Weber was still working on the melody and lyrics for “Memory” which obviously go on to be an amazing hit and become a signature song for Elaine.

Why do you think CATS has remained such a favorite all these years?
This show speaks to the human spirit. At its core it is a story about redemption. But more importantly we are all the cats or rather the characters and personalities they portray with all their flaws. The cats all look different, talk different and act different. But those differences are celebrated rather than used to drive them apart. Something about that is very appealing and something people hope humanity can reach.  The beauty of this show is that because the characters are all cats, you give in to the creativity of it all and just accept that cats for who they are.

DPAC Ticket Information – CATS 
A limited number of $35 seats will be available all-week long via an online lottery.  The lottery will happen online only the day prior to each designated performance.  Please Note: Seat locations vary per performance and winners may be sat in pairs or single seats. To enter, click here starting June 3 at 9am.

‘CATS!’ opens at DPAC on Tuesday, June 4th and runs through Sunday, June 9th . For tickets visit:

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Betty Buckley Delivers Top Notch Performance in “Hello, Dolly!” at DPAC!

8_Hello, Dolly! National Tour Company - 2018, Julieta Cervantes.jpg

Betty Buckley and cast in ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Photo Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

By the end of Tuesday night’s opening performance of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ the audience at DPAC was on their feet … and rightly so. The wonderful cast, led by the incredible Betty Buckley in the lead role as Dolly, had just delivered nothing short of an amazing performance of this Broadway Classic to the crowd in Durham. It was a treat to see the talented cast bring this hilarious musical to life on stage in the Bull City.  Based on the spontaneous cheers throughout the evening’s performance and the energy surging through the room following the closing number, you could tell the audience knew just how special the evening was.

One of the most enduring musical theater hits, Hello, Dolly! launched on Broadway 55 years ago and is an astounding 10-time Tony Award winner. The musical has been revived four times on Broadway, most recently in 2017 with Bette Midler in the lead role. This was followed by the launch of the national tour of the revival in October 2018 with Betty Buckley in the title role.

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Cast of ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Photo Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

The story follows widow and matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi, a middle-aged marriage broker in 1880’s New York who herself is looking to get back in the game. To make ends meet she runs a series of side hustles including dance lessons and long-distance hauling among an assortment of other odd tasks, all while she continues to set up eligible couples across the city.

Dolly is hired by the cranky feed store owner and “half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder (played by Lewis J. Stadlen) to find him a wife and Dolly lays out a playful scheme to land him herself, even if it takes tricking him into proposing to her. Stadlen is great as the Yonkers based bachelor complete with a thick New York accent.

The role of Dolly has been played by a series of amazing actors over the years, from Ethal Merman to Barbra Streisand in the 1969 film and Betty Buckley is right up there with the best of them delivering a world class performance and making the character very much her own.  From the moment she takes to the stage you just know you are witnessing something special. It’s not just her great comedic timing, or beautiful vocals that carry the shows big songs. Buckley adds genuine emotion to her character with heart-felt monologues to her late husband asking for his blessings to move on with her life.

Of course, as Dolly implements her plan to land a husband she plays matchmaker to Horace’s two overworked store clerks, Cornelius and Barnaby (played by the talented Nic Rouleau and Sean Burns) who are enjoying a rare jaunt around the NYC.  During their misadventure though the big city the two broke clerks from Yonkers become smitten with with hat shop owner Irene Molloy (played by Analisa Leaming) and her shy clerk Minnie Fay (played by Kristen Hahn).

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Cast of ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Photo Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

The love-struck, couples head out on a double date that leads to my favorite scene of the whole show in the Harmonia Gardens restaurant, where Dolly makes a spectacular entrance atop a grand staircase in a sparkling red gown and feathered headdress and delivers the title number surrounded by dancing waiters that left the audience roaring.

While Buckley is the standout star of the show, the dance numbers by the supporting ensemble and excellent score are equally worthy of praise. Warren Carlyle’s dazzling choreography results in dazzling routines and dancers bustling across the stage in high-energy numbers that are a delight to see. And Jerry Herman’s score is so perfectly executed by the amazing orchestra it is easy to forget that you are listening to live musicians creating the catchy melodies washing over the theater from the pit.

While the story of Dolly comes from a time where a woman’s role in society was measured most often by marriage and her husband’s wealth, this musical transcends those old stereotypes and trumps those outdated notions and to reveal the true heart of this story as one of love and romance and delivers an important message that we all need to be reminded of  – that no matter what hardships you have had to endure in life, never give up and just get out there and live your best life!

‘Hello, Dolly!’ performs at DPAC through Sunday, May 26th . For tickets visit:

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Dove & Olive – Grand Opening Saturday, May 18th!

There’s a new retail shop with a coffee and tea lounge opening in Raleigh’s Five Points area this weekend. Dove & Olive Mercantile will host a Grand Opening celebration this Saturday, May 18th from 1pm-4pm with a parking lot party. Barbox Raleigh will be there serving craft beers from Neuse River Brewing Company and the Pit BBQ Food Truck will be onsite selling some great food. Inside you can browse the store or just relax and enjoy coffee from Raleigh Coffee Company in their spacious lounge area.

Dove & Olive Mercantile is a rotating, curated collection of lifestyle inspired goods ranging from locally sourced items to products discovered through inspiring travel experiences.


The core mission of the store is to facilitate relationships within the community by creating an environment that brings people closer together through offering inspiring products. Along with discovering new finds, patrons can enjoy down time in our coffee and tea lounge.

Dove & Olive Raleigh
233 Bickett Boulevard
Raleigh, NC 27608
Instagram: @doveandoliveraleigh

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