Weekend Picks: March 17th – 19th

bigboss

This weekend we finally see a break from the colder temps. Take advantage of it and get outside to explore. Here are my top picks for the weekend! Happy Exploring!

Friday

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration at Big Boss
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Big Boss Brewery in Raleigh with an evening of Food Trucks, Live Music, and a new Nitro stout to debut this week! Music by The Trousers, and The Oak City Rockers. Bands begin at 7pm. No tickets needed.  

Saturday

Rebus Works Saturday Market & Bruch Food Truck
Enjoy a Mini-Farmers Market and Saturday Brunch with Chef Brian Battistella’s “No Boundaries” food truck serving some New Orleans inspired fare. Seating provided inside rebus works. You can view the food truck menu here. Brunch is from 10am-1pm. Rebus is located at 301 Kinsey Street near downtown Raleigh.

Sunday

Imagine Circus at North Hills
Check out the professional cirque style performances (fun costumes & makeup, stilt walkers, hoop dancers etc…) of Imagine Circus on Sunday as they film a promotional video at North Hills on the green behind Starbucks from 2-5pm. You can learn more about Imagine Circus here.

 

 

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Deborah Cox Is Stunning in “The Bodyguard” – Playing Through Sunday at DPAC

The Bodyguard

Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Company in The Bodyguard
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

On Tuesday “The Bodyguard” opened at DPAC. Based on the hit 1992 movie of the same name the show in many ways is really a tribute performance to Whitney Houston and the songs she made famous. I went into the show expecting a fun experience that would teleport me back to my senior year in high school when Houston topped the charts with several hits from the movie’s soundtrack. The show delivered on the nostalgia, but what I didn’t expect was to be blown away by the vocals of the amazing Deborah Cox, who plays Rachel Marron, the role made famous in the movie by Houston.

Cox is a vocal powerhouse in her own right with Grammy nominations and multi-platnum R&B albums among her many impressive career accomplishments. Listening to her sing number after number throughout the evening was a real treat. She is in almost every scene of the show and sings almost each time she is on stage. How she pulls off so many wardrobe changes and delivers each song with such a powerful voice night after night is incredible. If you go into the show expecting a top-notch tribute to Whitney Houston you will not be disappointed.

Cox’s amazing performance is supported by equally stellar vocals from Jasmin Richardson, who plays Nicki, the jealous sister. Jasmin Richardson almost steals the show each time she is on stage. Her depiction of the supportive but jealous sister always in the shadow of her superstar sibling was perfectly delivered. The fact that when she sang she showed off a talent to rival that of Rachel added real substance to the conflict. The story and real life mirrored each other. It is no wonder that Richardson is the understudy for the role of Rachel Marron. Richardson, much like Nicki in the story, could easily fill the shoes of the lead role and be a superstar if fate would have it.

The Bodyguard

Judson Mills as Frank Farmer, Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Charles Gray as Bill Devaney in The Bodyguard
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Judson Mills plays Frank Farmer, the reluctant Bodyguard to the Rachel Marron. While this role was made famous by Kevin Costner in the film, Mills does his best to make it his own. Mills version is just as masculine as Costner’s but a bit more laid back than the film version. He injects little bit of humor into the role. Mills doesn’t sing in the production, well except for one scene, but I don’t want to give too much away. Let’s just say it is a crowd favorite.

The ensemble of dancers for each number were all top notch – bringing a real life concert feel to each of the numbers in the musical. I think my favorite scene was when three drunk women in a bar do a hilarious karaoke rendition of Where Do Broken Hearts Go. Its kind of amazing how they nail singing poorly (on purpose). Its kind of hard to do and make it entertaining. But they totally nail it and get some of the biggest laughs of the night in the process.

The show has its moment when it has the 90’s feel. You can help but feel the tug of the 90’s when listening to some of songs you recall hearing so well on the radio back then. And in several scenes the ensemble are dressed in dance clothes reminiscent of the 1990’s. But the show is done in current time. With actors using cell phones in scenes, and talking about videos going viral on the internet. It was nice to see the story pulled into the modern times and not use 90’s culture as a shtick.

In many ways The Bodyguard feels like a mini-concert and an excuse to feature the hit songs of Houston. But if we are being honest that is what the audience is really there for and not the story. So if tribute a to Houston was the goal in that regard the production truly delivers. I expect to hear more great things from Cox and Richardson in the future. While they may be playing the superstar and supporting role in this production in real life they are both very much stars shining brightly.

“The Bodyguard” shows at DPAC through Sunday, March 19th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-bodyguard.

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North Raleigh Sprouts Farmers Market Grand Opening March 15th

 

sprouts

Sprouts Farmers Market ~ North Raleigh Location

 

This week North Raleigh residents will have a new grocery store with more healthy options. Sprouts Farmers Market will open the doors to its first North Carolina store on Wednesday, March 15th in North Raleigh at 9414 Falls of Neuse Road in the Olive Park shopping center. The public is invited to the grand opening celebration of the 30,000-square-foot store, which kicks off at 7 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with free samples and giveaways.

Sprouts is a healthy grocery store offering natural and organic foods including fresh produce, meat and seafood, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, packaged groceries, deli, baked goods, dairy products, frozen foods, natural body care and household items catering to consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness.

As part of the company’s commitment to “zero waste,” the Sprouts in Raleigh will donate unsold and edible groceries to Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle through its Food Rescue Program. In 2016, Sprouts stores and distribution centers donated approximately 18 million pounds of product, which is equivalent to 15 million meals. Food that is not fit for donation is provided to local cattle farms and composting facilities. Sprouts’ evolving “zero waste” initiatives help close the loop on food waste while reducing the impact of hunger and the company’s environmental footprint.

For more information about Sprouts Farmers Market visit sprouts.com or @sproutsfm on Twitter.

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“The Bodyguard” Opens at DPAC Next Tuesday!

The Bodyguard

Deborah Cox as Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Frank Farmer in The Bodyguard
(photo by Joan Marcus)

Next week “The Bodyguard” musical takes the stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center with shows running from Tuesday, March 14th through Sunday, March 19th. The musical is of course adapted from the blockbuster 1992 movie stared Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner and generated a hit soundtrack that was nominated for four Grammy Awards.

The show tells tells the love story that starts when former secret service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer (played by Judson Mills), is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron (played by Deborah Cox) from an unknown stalker. This isn’t your typical musical though. Expect some showstopping performances by Cox as she sings several hit songs like “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Run to You,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – “I Will Always Love You.”

I had the opportunity to speak to Judson Mills earlier this week to learn what it is like to play a role made famous by Kevin Costner and learn more about his time with the production. Judson has a long career of working in television and movies with roles in popular shows like Walker Texas Ranger and more recently Westworld. I was curious what it was like to make the jump back to the stage. He was was a lot of fun to talk to and I can’t wait to see him and Cox on stage together next week.

How did you land the role in show and get back into theater after years in television?
“I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for Stage & Theater. My first roles were in theater but I had the opportunity to do some TV work early one joining a daytime soap opera. That lead to several years of TV work. I was actually roommates with Alex Dinelaris who made The Bodyguard adaptation from film to stage. They were having trouble filling the role of Frank Farmer and he reached out to me. We got together and put some scenes of me on an iPhone one afternoon and that lead to me getting the part”

How is working on stage different from your work in TV and movies?
“Oh wow, it is so different. Of course there is nothing quite like live performances. It’s not like TV where you get to try again if you mess up a line or scene. There is just one take on theater and you have to keep on going. In theater you can run into missed cues, props that aren’t there, even the occasional minor injuries….but you only get one take… the show has to keep going.”

With a role like this how do you approach it to make it your own?
“I’m a big fan of Kevin Costner and of course there is always a little added pressure when you play a role made famous by an actor like him. But you always try to bring your own version of a role to life. You aren’t trying to duplicate the actor. You are playing the role and I like to allow my own Frank Farmer to develop. I like to think there is a little bit of me in the character. It has been a lot of fun playing in this role.”

Do you get to sing in the show?
“Ha! Yes I do get to sing once. I don’t want to give too much away though. Lets just say a karaoke machine is involved. It is a fun scene and the audience will really enjoy it. But we leave the majority of the singing to Deborah. She is amazing really. There are 13 songs in the show and she has to act, dance and sing and she is wonderful through all of it.”

How do you and the cast get along?
“It is just great. I know it sounds like a cliche but we are a tight family. It really is an amazing hard working group. I’m having a lot of fun and proud to work with them all.”

What is next for you?
“The show is my central focus right now. There is some talk of it making to Broadway which would be amazing. We will see where that goes. I’m just enjoying being a part of this production and working with the great cast and ensemble.”

“The Bodyguard” opens at DPAC on Tuesday,  March 14th and runs through Sunday, March 19th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-bodyguard.

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Weekend Picks: March 10th – 12th


Looks like we may get a bit of colder weather this weekend, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out and about. Plenty of great things going on the next few days. Here are my top picks and things to do in Raleigh and Durham this weekend!

Friday

Free Wine Tasting at Taylor’s Wine Shop  & Gonza Food Truck
On Friday night you can enjoy a free wine tasting at Taylor’s Wine Shop in North Raleigh and buy some awesome tacos from the new Gonza Tacos Food Truck. The wine tasting will feature several Italian wines and one California Pinot Noir. Wine Tasting is from 6:30-8pm. The Food Truck will be onsite from 5-8pm.

Saturday

Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The Parade kicks off at 10:00AM and The Festival continues along Fayetteville Street and Raleigh City Plaza until 5:30PM. I’ll be marching in the parade with The Bulltown Strutters playing alongside Larry’s Coffee. Afterwards you can find the band playing at 42 & Lawrence Coffee Shop by Moore Square from around 12:30-1:30.

Sunday

Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo
Hopefully the weather will hold out for the food truck rodeo this SUnday at Druham Central Park. There will be over 50 local trucks, local beer, and live music. Rodeo runs from 12-4pm. You can see a list of the participating trucks here.

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