‘Waitress’ Opens at DPAC This Tuesday – May 1st!

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of WAITRESS  Credit Joan Marc.jpg

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the National Tour of “Waitress”
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Triangle theater fans are in for a treat this week! The Broadway hit WAITRESS opens at DPAC this Tuesday, May 1st with performances through Sunday, May 6th.

This musical is a story about empowerment, taking action and finding your self-worth. Jenna – a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of away out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland).

This national touring production of “Waitress” is at the Durham Performing Arts Center May 1st through May 6th. For Tickets Visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/waitress-the-musical


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Smashed Waffles Grand Opening Celebration April 26th!


Quilted Pig Waffle & Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Smashed Waffle Company opened its first Triangle location back at the end of January on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Since then NC State students and Raleigh residents alike have made the new cafe a popular spot for enjoying delicious waffles and creative coffee drinks. Now that Spring has arrived and the weather is warming up Smashed Waffles is holding their Grand Opening Celebration with an official ribbon cutting ceremony this Thursday, April 26th at 11 a.m.

Part of that celebration will include a chance to win a Year’s Worth of Waffles! Everyone visiting the Raleigh Smashed Waffle Café on April 26th can enter a drawing, and the lucky winner will receive a dozen waffles every month for an entire year.

The Grand Opening Celebration will continue throughout the day, and conclude with a themed pajama party that evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. During which, anyone dressed in pajamas will be able to purchase a waffle for only $1.00!


Founders Justin Cox and Hunter Harrison
(Photo Courtesy Pam Varela)

About Smashed
Co-founders, Hunter Harrison and Justin Cox, both former commercial bankers, were so inspired by a 2016 brainstorming session that within weeks they quit their jobs, and a gourmet waffle company was founded with visions of changing the landscape of the waffle industry.  The concept was solid, but the trick was how to keep the waffles from getting soggy, which occurs when a traditional batter is used.  To ensure a quality product, Harrison and Cox experimented with a series of scratch made dough as a base, which created a hard outer shell, and a delicious soft, airy center.  The dough is then “smashed” into heavy-duty cast iron waffle “smashers.” Problem solved and The Smashed Waffle brand was created!


Smashed Waffles!

Moving into a cafe has allowed The Smashed Waffle Company to broaden their offerings. “We expanded our menu to include not only the sweet waffle versions that people had grown to love, but also savory waffles like smashed Waffle-Wiches, ice cream Smashed-Wiches, custom lattes, and specialty coffees,” co-founder Justin Cox said.

This expansion keeps Smashed Waffles true to their vision of showing the world that the waffle can be not only an amazing breakfast item or, in their case, an alternative to the doughnut, but they want to prove that waffles are the new bread!


Inside Smashed Waffles on Hillsborough Street
(Photo courtesy of Pam Varela)

The waffle menu at Smashed includes waffle based sandwiches and of course lots of tasty and creative toppings to add to your waffle.  They also have a full coffee and espresso drink menu. My favorite combo is the Nitro Cold Brew and the “Quilted Pig”waffle with its maple icing, candied bacon crumbles and powdered sugar. You can view the menu here.

Another cool aspect of this company is that they help serve the community beyond just providing fun waffles and coffee. The Smashed Waffle Company believes in making a difference. For every cup of coffee they sell, a portion of the proceeds goes to help benefit families that are affected by Autism.

If you can’t stop by this week for the Grand Opening Celebration make sure you add this spot to your list the next time you are exploring Hillsborough Street. The hours for the cafe and delivery services are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday -Thursday and 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.  Catering and delivering is also available: To place an order for delivery, go to http://www.smashedwaffles.com

Smashed Waffles
2304 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smashedwaffles
Instagram: @smashedwaffles  
Twitter: @smashedwaffles

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Review: “The Sound Of Music” Brings a Family Classic to Life at DPAC


The Sound of Music on Tour (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Last week my wife and I had a fun Friday night date night in Durham and attended a performance of the touring production of “The Sound of Music” at DPAC. Like so many other people we have only seen the film version of this story and it was wonderful to see it come to life on stage with such a talented cast. From the very first scene to the final curtain the cast delivered a amazing vocals and a performance worthy of such a classic.

Inspired by the true story of an Austrian family that escaped the Nazis at the beginning of World War II, “The Sound of Music” was the last collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who died just months after the show debuted on Broadway in 1959. It ran for nearly three years on Broadway and won five Tony Awards.

The film version was released in 1965. It was a huge hit and is still considered one of the most successful films ever made. I was curious how a live performance would hold up to my high expectations.  I was not let down.

In the early scenes set in the abbey, Lauren Kidwell gives a standout performance as the Mother Abbess as she counsels of the impulsive young Postulant Maria Rainer (Jill-Christine Wiley). Their duet version of “My Favorite Things” is a standout in the show as is Kidwell’s rendition of “Climb Every Mountain”.

Of course the young actors playing the adorable von Trapp children steal almost every scene they are in. Mike McLean makes for a strong romantic lead as their widowed but devoted father, Captain Georg von Trapp. His friend Max Detweiler (Jake Mills) and love interest Elsa Schraeder (Melissa McKamie) are better developed in the stage version. This is aided to some degree with the inclusion of several songs in the production that were cut from the film.

There are a few minor differences between the movie and the stage version. Mainly some rearranging of where certain songs take place. For example, in the stage version “My Favorite Things” is a duet between Maria and the Mother Abbess – rather than the von Trapp children. There is also the elimination of the puppet show scene though the song from that scene, “The Lonely Goatherd” is part of the show, but is simply incorporated into a bedtime scene with the children instead.

There are a few parts of the show that feel a tad forced, like the quick shift of affections from Elsa to Maria but overall the characters are better developed in the theatrical performance compared to the movie, and the story arc of Maria’s falling in love with the entire family feels very real.

Act II takes on a bit of a darker tone when Austria is invaded by Nazi Germany. The sense of danger and doom is highlighted when armed soldiers enter the von Trapp household and Captain von Trapp must decided whether to defying the Nazi regime and risk his family’s safety. The presence of “Stormtroopers” and backdrop of  swastika flags during the final scenes brings a heavy dose of reality to the trials of the people during that troubling time and the sense of danger and reaction from the audience was palpable during some of these more serious scenes.

Ultimately  “The Sound of Music” is a tale of hope and love in the face of adversity and offers something for audience members of all ages to enjoy. The show was only at DPAC for a limited engagement and has already left town, but I highly recommend you try to see it if it swings back through the Triangle on a future tour. In the meantime there are several great shows coming to DPAC in the coming months. You can view the full schedule of upcoming performances here. https://www.dpacnc.com/events/all


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Wake Forest Herb Festival – April 20-22 & 27-29

The Wake Forest Herb Festival starts today at 9am and runs all this weekend and next (April 20-22 & 27-29). The festival is located at Festival Park in downtown Wake Forest at 525 S. White Street.

They have a HUGE selection of Non GMO organic herbs, heritage tomatoes, heirloom vegetable plants & local grown perennials.

For more information about the festival check out the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Herbfest/

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Tar Heel 10 Miler Discount Code


The Tar Heel 10 miler is a great local race with a course that showcases downtown Chapel Hill, the UNC Campus and some nice surrounding historic neighborhoods. This year the race will take place on Saturday, April 21st. The registration fee is currently $80 but you an  use the discount code TH10JOHN and save an $5 on your race registration.


I ran the Tar Heel 10 Miler in 2013 and 2017 and I’m looking forward to doing it again in this year. A ten mile race is a great distance to train for especially if you are looking for something a bit longer than a 5k. A 10-miler is long enough that it is challenging yet not so far that you need months and months to prepare like you might with a full or half marathon. There is also a 4 mile option if you are looking for a shorter distance race. The course is really nice and you will have lots of support along the way. Keep an eye out for the folks playing the Alpenhorns along the course!


Of course there are some hills, but that comes with the territory when running in a place named Chapel Hill. Last year there were approximately 6,400 runners making it a nice size race with good energy. This is one of the premiere races in the Triangle and a must do if you area a local runner. Hope to see you out there on the course!

Race Details:
Date: Saturday April 21, 2018
Tar Heel 10 Miler Discount Code: TH10JOHN (Saves you $5)
Race Website: http://tarheel10miler.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TarHeel10Miler/

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