“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 https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/aint-too-proud

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Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville” Brings Summer Vibes to DPAC Stage!

Company of the Nation Tour, Escape to Margaritaville – photo by Matthew Murphy

Winter may be around the corner but Jimmy Buffett fans will find plenty summer vibes to enjoy when they see “Escape to Margaritaville” – the 2017 musical now running at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday. This musical is not a biopic about Buffett, instead it’s more of a rom-com set-up to deliver a healthy dose of all your favorite Buffett songs set to a storyline inspired by his music.

The main story centers around carefree singer-songwriter, Tully Mars (Chris Clark) working as the resident musical entertainment in the Tiki bar at the “it looked better online” Margaritaville Resort on an unnamed Caribbean island. His laidback life consists of singing his songs and romancing one female tourist after another during their brief visits to the island, and happily saying goodbye to each woman after her short stay has come to an end. His side-kick is Brick (Peter Michael Jordan), the bartender who proves to be a loveable character but not nearly as smooth with the ladies as Tully.

Sarah Hinrichsen as Rachel and Chris Clark as Tully, Escape to Margaritaville – photo by Matthew Murphy

Two women on a bachelorette getaway from Cincinnati, Rachel (played by Sarah Hinrichsen), an all too serious environmental scientist, and her friend Tammy (Emily Qualmann) who is just days away from an ill-advised marriage to marrying a real jerk arrive on the island and end up flirting with Tully and Brick and that’s where the sparks begin to fly. But is it really meant to be or is it just another short lived vacation island romance?

Although all of the actors did a phenomenal job in this production, the two that stood out the most were Qualmann, who played Tammy, and Jordan, who played Brick. Although they both had only supporting roles, their performances were the ones that really stole the show form me, they had the most chemistry on stage and I found myself more invested in their story than those of the leads.

Company of the Nation Tour, Escape to Margaritaville – photo by Matthew Murphy

For all the clichés, there are some truly funny moments including a tap number involving the ghosts of dead insurance agents. In the end, what really makes this show work is the excellent choreography and dancing by the ensemble cast and the fact that the story doesn’t take itself too seriously. Escape to Margaretville provides a fun laid-back island themed evening embodying the Jimmy Buffett Lifestyle depicted in his music.  

Escape to Margaritaville is playing now through Sunday, November 14th at DPAC. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/tootsie

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BB’s Crispy Chicken Raleigh Location Opens Saturday!

Get ready Raleigh! Ashley Christensen’s log awaited BB’s Crispy Chicken opens this Saturday, October 30th at 11am. This fast-casual style restaurant features crispy chicken breast sandwiches, salads and wraps along with fanastic sides like sea-salt brined french fries, pickled cabbage slaw, cheese curds and your choice of 13 homemade sauces.

The pricepoint for the sandwiches ranges between $6.50 to $8.99. They will also have a limited adult beverage menu (starting in a few weeks) and have a selection of desserts and milk shakes including the current seasonal offering of a pumpkin mapel shake!

The Raleigh location is located on Wake Forest Road in the “Midtown East” shopping center in front of the Raleigh Wegmans. But don’t worry, there are also plans to open locations in Durham and Cary by end of spring 2022.

I had a chance to get a sneak peek at the Raleigh location and menu this week during their media preview and everything was delicious. Honestly it was the best chicken sandwich I have ever had. I think this new venture by AC will be a huge hit!

The Raleigh location opens this Saturday, October 30th at 11am and will be open seven days a week 11am to 9pm. To learn more about BB’s and keep tabs on additiona locations planned in the future follow them on instagram at @bbs.crispychicken.

BB’s Crsipy Chicken
2920 Sherman Oak Place – Unti 140
Raleigh, NC 27609
https://bbscrispychicken.com/

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Oakwood Halloween House ~ 2021 Edition

Yesterday I took a quick walk on my lunch break for my annual visit to the Historic Oakwood Nieghborhood to see the scariest House in Raleigh. There are lots of spooky decorations setup and ready to get you in the Halloween mood just in time for the weekend. The ghostly decorations are a local favorite and top destiantion for selfie seekers this time of year so you can expect it to be busy.

The Oakwood Halloween House is located at 504 Oakwood Avenue in Downtown Raleigh. I recommend swinging by Friday or Saturday to beat the bigger crowds expected Halloween night. Hope you have a happy and safe Halloween!

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“Tootsie” Now Playing at DPAC!

The national touring production of Tootsie that opened at DPAC this past Tuesday night is a fun theatrical adaptation of the 1982 film. While the national views on gender stereotypes have certainly changed quite a bit since the early 8o’s, this updated production and more modern characters reflects these more current views.

The overall story revolves around Michael Dorsey (played by Drew Becker), a talented but somewhat pompous Broadway actor that finds himself blacklisted after being labeled as difficult on set. Out of work and struggling to find a new gig, in his desperation he decides to audition for a new play as a woman by transforming into “Dorothy Michael’s”.  While this plan is initially successful, the ruse leads to a comedy of errors and misunderstandings that although funny at times, also leads to self-reflection. This is a show is a comedy for sure, but it does not shy away from the more serious and timely issues like what it means to be a woman in show business and how to be a better man.

Drew Becker is perfectly cast as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels. As a man his character comes off as a high-maintenance jerk while still being likeable. And when he transforms into playing a woman he is the person in the room everyone, man or woman wants to be friends with.  

Ashley Alexandra is equally wonderful playing actress Julie Nichols in the play within the play. Her character exudes both strength and vulnerability. Her excellent singing and connection with the audience almost steals every scene she is in.

Supporting characters played by Jared David Michael Grant and Payton Reilly are true gems on stage in this production. Jared is terrific as Jeff Slater, Michael’s best friend and roommate who imparts inconvenient wisdom at every turn and scores some of the show’s best laughs, sometimes by saying absolutely nothing.

Payton, who plays Michael’s needy ex-girlfriend, Sandy Lester is loveable in her despair as an equally struggling actress who loses out on a plumb role to Michael’s “Dorothy”. Payton’s rendition of “What’s Gonna Happen,” which is repeated in increasingly shorter versions throughout the show is a fantastic and catchy song about how everything in her life goes wrong.

While Tootsie is indeed a comedy, the show does have its more serious moments near its conclusion once Michael starts looking at the world through Dorothy’s eyes and sees the error of his ways and the pain he has caused. And with that recognition comes understanding.

I found Tootsie to be a wonderfully funny production put on by a stellar cast. Don’t miss your chance to see it while it’s in town through this weekend!

Tootsie is playing now through Sunday, October 24th at DPAC. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/tootsie

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