Tag Archives: Durham Performing Arts Center

Now Showing at DPAC: ‘If/Then’ Explores The Road Not Traveled

If/Then.Winspear Opera House

National Tour of If/Then
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Do you ever find yourself wondering what might have been? Is your destiny bound by fate, or are your daily decisions constantly creating potential new outcomes for your future? Tuesday night’s opening of If/Then, which runs through Memorial Day weekend at the Durham Performing Arts Center left me pondering these very questions. Based on a book by Brian Yorkey, this original Broadway musical follows two possible life paths of Elizabeth (played by the fantastic Jackie Burns), a  thirty-something urban planner who has relocated to New York City for a fresh start after a failed marriage and dead end job in Phoenix.

The show explores how sometimes even seemingly minor decisions can have ripple effects taking your life into different possible directions. In the opening scene Elizabeth’s choices in the span of just 30 seconds set two possible futures into motion. Does she answer a call from an unknown number and land her dream job as director of city planning or let it go to voicemail and instead become a teacher? Does she go with her friend Kate (Tamyra Gray) to listen to music in the park, which leads to a chance encounter with Josh (Matthew Hydzik) her future husband and father of her children, or does she go with her old college friend Lucas (Anthony Rapp) to attend a protest and remain single?

If/Then.Winspear Opera House

Jackie Burns & Matthew Hydzik
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Every choice has a consequence and If/Then takes the audience down that road of what might have been. You might think it would be confusing to follow, but the producers use little tricks like having Elizabeth adopt two different nicknames ‘Beth/Liz’ or having her character wear glasses in one potential future to help distinguish the alternate timelines. Jackie Burns strong singing voice and acting are well suited for in the center role and she handles it masterfully.  My favorite number of the night was the funny “What the Fuck” when Elizabeth is struggling with her indecision over whether or not to have a one night stand. While there are plenty of funnier moments like this one, the show has its fair share of songs rife with tension and regret about chances not taken like the somber “You learn to Live Without”.

I think the most impressive aspect of If/Then is the sheer number of musical numbers performed. With 22 songs there is a lot of singing squeezed into two acts. Fortunately the show has strong cast that is up to the task of delivering impressive vocals. The set design is also top notch. While the setting of New York City isn’t really integral to the story it makes for the perfect backdrop offering life changing decisions around every corner. The sets are smartly done and did a wonderful job of capturing the city environment from riding the subway to watching a game at Yankee stadium.

If/Then.Winspear Opera House

Nationals Tour of If/Then
(Photo by Joan Marcus)

Local theater fans take note. Make sure you keep an eye out for North Carolina Native English Bernhardt on stage. She grew up right here in Raleigh and returns to DPAC playing supporting cast member Paulette in her first national tour debut.

If/Then isn’t about telling a story of Elizabeth so much as it telling the story of the road not traveled. It is a good reminder that we shape our futures with seemingly random choices. I enjoyed this performance and think you will too. If you don’t go, then you’ll never know what might have been.

If/Then  continues through May 29th at the Durham Performing Arts Center. For more information and to order tickets visit http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/ifthen.

 

 

 

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The Durham Performing Arts Center DPAC

If you are looking to see a Broadway musical, concert, or comedy act check out the event schedule for the new Durham Performing Arts Center known as “DPAC”. Since opening in November 2008 the art center has presented more than 150 with over 250, 000 guests in attendance. Last year the DPAC sold out over 30 shows including musical acts Leonard Cohen, Steely Dan, and Harry Connick Jr., comedians Bill Cosby and Robin Williams and an entire week of Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple. Their schedule this year includes over 175 events throughout the upcoming year.

The venue is 100,000 square feet and has 2,700 seats. There are currently 10,000 season ticket holders and gets a lot of popular shows. Recently I purchased tickets for my wife and I to see Wicked there later this spring. Although the tickets went fast and it took a lot of tries through Ticketmaster online we were finally able to nab some tickets for the upper balcony. Fortunately the layout of the theater was designed to put you close to the stage, with no seat further than 135 feet away from the action. I am looking forward to both seeing the show and getting a look at the interior design of this modern theater. Some other interesting acts coming to PAC thsi year include Chicago, Paula Deen, The Ringo Star All Star Band, and Harry Connick Jr.

If you are in the Durham area and want to take a free tour of the venue, DPAC offers a public tour the first Monday of the month. The public tour will be given by DPAC staff and begin at 11:00 am. Tours include sights of the theatre from all levels, an extraordinary view from the Mildred & Dillard Teer Stage, and a city skyline panorama from the star terrace lobby. Tours will also get a chance to see where the stars prepare for show time. For more information, check out the DPAC website here: Link

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