Sunday, May 1, 2016

Carolina Ballet's Macbeth - a dance of betrayal

Macbeth is such a timeless tale that even without words, it's brutal story transcends. That's the beauty of Robert Weiss's interpretation of the 400 year old Shakespeare play as a full length ballet performance by the Carolina Ballet.

So much was compelling it was hard to keep track, so I decided to make a list...

  • The dancers were so remarkably talented, not only in their technical skill, but also in using their form to emote scenes that would otherwise have pages of dialogue. You could see the anguish in the face of Lady Macbeth when her infant dies, the fear in Lady Macduff's eyes as she's being persued by assassins. As a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts, I am quite familiar with the works of the bard. One thing that makes his work so universally appealing is that if you can get past the antiquated terminology, the wordiness, if you can sit with it and understand the intention of the phrase, then the deeper meaning comes through in aces. This is how audiences of middle schoolers can understand a Shakespeare comedy when half the words are simply unknown to them - it falls on the actors, and in this case, dancers to interpret it for us the audience. One of the principals, Richard Krusch, is a fellow UNCSA graduate, and you can see how he and his fellow dancers gracefully interpret pages of words into movement, and lose nothing in translation.
  • My favorite scene might be the dance in the bridal chamber of Macbeth and his new bride (Marcelo Martinez and Lara O'Brien). They seemed to flow through the space like water and as they made their way to the bed, their lust overcame them in a series of spins and flips that made me sit up in my seat. It was an incredibly creative protrayal of passion.
  • What would Macbeth be without his war? The swords and axes clinked and shone in the lights, and the jabs and slices of deadly injuries looked so convincing. Weiss did an amazing job of juxtaposing fight choreography to rival Game of Thrones with Lady Macbeth's pregnancy and eventual loss. It was a brilliant way of demonstrating how cruel life's twists and turns are, both to enlisted men and innocents alike.
  • The set decoration by Jeff A. R. Jones was simply stunning. Giant rock faces, craggly trees and roots, smoke and fire all combined to set a foreboding stage for the drama. I really loved several moments, one where the rocks split just slightly to let angry red light in, a crack in the sky demonstrating the fissure in their pact to win at all costs. And at the end of the first act, the Macbeths are attempting to clean their bloodied hands when a ceiling of red string detaches upon them seconds before the curtain descends. It was unexpected and beautiful.

  • The costumes, of course, were gorgeous. The woodland witches had crowns of jagged twigs reaching for the sky, with the same wrapped around their wrists, threatening to entangle anyone who got near. Lady Macbeth was introduced to us in a lovely white bridal gown, and as the libretto went on her outfits became darker and darker red, until the very end. My absolute favorite moment of the play was in Lady's last scene when she is once again wearing white, this time a facade, no longer innocent by any means. Her eyes are wild with paranoia, and she gasps at her clean hands, imagines them covered in blood and desperate to clean them wipes them on her pristine gown. In their genius, they made red bloodstains on her gown appear as she wipes, even as her hands remain clean. Her descent into madness marked by the streaks of red guilt all over her.
  • The original score was composed by JMark Scearce, arguably our state's best composer. The scenes with a happy score of love soon were outnumbered by brutal battle marches, but what I most enjoyed was when characters found themselves surrounded by enemies when they least expected it, or when they had to keep outward appearances even though guilty of heinous things. In these moments, the music soared for me, as he combined the traditional themes adding in minor chords and haunting vocals, creating an desperate and foreboding atmosphere you knew they couldn't escape.
Portrayal of the horrors of war and the intricacies of political betrayal through dance is quite a feat, and Carolina Ballet has truly brought something new to the drama with the nimble feet of North Carolina's most talented dancers. It certainly rings eerily true during a time when our state finds itself embroiled in controversy, when our nation is divided with hateful rhetoric. What cost is the crown? And who pays it? As the curtain closes on Macbeth, the witch's predictions having come true but only after great bloodshed and sacrifice, it becomes clear - we all do.

The final performance of MacBeth is today, Sunday, May 1st at 2pm at DPAC. Find tickets here. And just for Stir Crazy readers, ust use the code “MB2016" through the DPAC box office to receive 20% off your tickets!

FTC disclosure: I was given two tickets so that I could review the performance. No positive review was asked for or promised, and the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carolina Ballet presents Macbeth

Come experience the thrills, intrigue, and revenge of Shakespeare's Macbeth 
this weekend at Carolina Ballet's stunning performance of this classic drama. 
Picture Game Of Thrones, but centuries earlier, and right in front of your eyes.

Carolina Ballet's brand new interpretation of Shakespeare’s dramatic work features all new elaborate scenery, costumes, and score. Carolina Ballet is the Triangle area’s only professional ballet company, known for their impressive portrayals of timeless classics. This season they are paying tribute to William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23, marking the first world premiere for a full-length story ballet for Carolina Ballet since 2010’s Sleeping Beauty. There has only been one other known Macbeth ballet, which was presented by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1980!

Macbeth is one of the Bard’s best known dramatic plays, a thrilling and intriguing tragedy about prophecy, ambition, and a couple’s dangerous quest for power. Carolina Ballet’s show is a brand new production, featuring an entirely original Act I written by Artistic Director Robert Weiss. The performances feature visually stunning choreography by Weiss, along with newly designed sets by Resident Scenic Director Jeff Jones and a specially commissioned score by J. Mark Scearce, one of North Carolina’s most recognized composers. Performances feature live music accompaniment by the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, which includes more than 30 musicians.

* It is recommended that the performance is best for middle school students and up. *

Read what the News & Observer had to say about this amazing performance here.

Best of all, Carolina Ballet is offering Stir Crazy and SoDu families a special discount! Just use the code “MB2016" through the DPAC box office to receive 20% off your tickets!

·      Saturday, April 30 at 8 PM
·      Sunday, May 1 at 2 PM 

For tickets, visit or call the DPAC box office at 919-680-2787

Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC 27701

More info on the Carolina Ballet, one of America’s premiere arts organizations can be found at

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Southern Women's Show

The Southern Women’s Show, the Triangle’s most exciting and wide-ranging shopping and entertainment event, is returning this weekend of April 22-24. The highly anticipated annual event will showcase two new celebrity guests: Stephen “tWitch” Boss from the Ellen DeGeneres Show and So You Think You Can Dance, as well as Whitney Way Thore from TLC network’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life. In addition to meeting this year’s celebrities, women can enjoy a vast variety of features and entertainers along with shopping hundreds of different clothing, beauty, food and other unique businesses. Sunday is Mother Daughter Day with a special emphasis on kid's activities, including a fun hula hooping contest with PowerHoopz founder Chris Lowe. 

Boss first rose to fame after winning over critics and fans alike on season four of So You Think You Can Dance where he captivated audiences with his impressive dancing skills and unmatched charisma. He regularly returns to serve as a mentor, choreographer and coach on new seasons of the show. Boss has also been a guest performer on Dancing With The Stars and has been a favorite guest DJ on the Ellen DeGeneres Show since April 2014. His phenomenal talent has also landed him roles in a number of Hollywood films; including the 2015 hit Magic Mike XXL. Southern Women’s Show attendees will hear from Boss about his journey to stardom and witness some of his best dance moves. The fun takes place at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 22 on the Fashion & Entertainment Stage. “tWitch is an outstanding performer with a huge personality and we are so honored to have him at the show this year,” said Katie Cronin, show manager of the Southern Women’s Show. “He knows how to create fun and memorable experiences with audiences and we know he’ll bring an incredible energy to the Southern Women’s Show. We encourage all attendees to stick around after tWitch’s stage appearance for a complimentary fan meet and greet including autographs and photo opportunities.”

Also presenting at this year’s show is reality-TV star and North Carolina native, Whitney Way Thore. After starring in the 2014 viral YouTube video, “A Fat Girl Dancing,” Thore was immediately thrust into the spotlight as a fat acceptance activist. She has received national recognition for her campaign for positive body image, No Body Shame, and helped bring awareness to polycystic ovary syndrome. Thore will take the Fashion & Entertainment Stage Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m. to tell her moving story and participate in a Q&A session with audience members. Fans can also participate in a meet and greet with Thore after her appearance.

Other performers and presenters include national recording artist and Gospel Queen of Neo-Soul, Cynthia Jones; Ms. Glitz The Entertainer; PowerHoopz Founder Chris Lowe; Kendra Lynne of At Home Canning; Dwayna Litz, author of Happiness: No Man Required; and local fashion blogger, Molly Stillman from “Still Being Molly,” to name a few.

Also returning this year is the cash bar featuring Barefoot Wine, the official wine sponsor of the Southern Women’s Show. Attendees 21 and older can receive a complimentary glass of wine during Girls’ Night Out, Friday starting at 4 p.m., April 22, by presenting a coupon printed here

In addition, the show’s weekend includes:

  • The saucy 15th annual Firefighter Fashion Show and the adorable Fido Fashion Show, both benefitting localnonprofits
  • Makeovers from Belk’s signature beauty bar experts along with cosmetic specials and giveaways
  • Test drives of brand new cars and SUVs by Chevrolet made for today’s busiest families

The Southern Women’s Show runs Friday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at an advanced discount price of $10 online prior to the show online for $2 off or $8 at local Walgreens locations starting March 21. Tickets can also be purchased for $12 at the door. Tickets for children ages 6 through 12 are $6 and children under the age of 6 can attend free of charge with a paying adult. For more information, visit The full schedule is here.

There are even more discounts available here, including a free glass of wine on ladies night, Friday. You do have to print them out and bring them to the door. There are also printable coupons for individual vendors here.

So how do you win tickets? Just sign in to facebook in the rafflecopter giveaway below or sign in using your email. It's easy!

Hope to see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hope Valley Brewing Company

Stir Crazy is excited to tell you about the newest restaurant on the block in SoDu is Hope Valley Brewing Company, in the old City Beverage space. They opened on St. Patrick's day, and the kind owners Peter Michaels, Andrew Christenbury, and Brad Strode invited us in for lunch on the house.

I love what they say on their website: "We strive to have incredible flavors in a low key environment loved by parents, beer officiandos, sports nuts, intellectuals and everyone else. Come give us a shot, you'll probably make some new friends."

First thing to know about the building is that the patio is still there and promises some refreshing spring meals in the nice weather. The old "lava lounge" space previously connected to City Beverage is still under construction, and the owners are working to figure out how to best use it, where exactly the brewing will take place, or if pool tables will work. So stay tuned to their facebook page for updates!

The new space is clean and modern, with minimalistic design and aqua walls, tan and wood accents. The colors and lighting definitely give it a pleasing appearance and allow you to focus on the food and experience. 

We sat right in front of one of the televisions since they were tuned to the first games of the NCAA, and it's sure to be a popular place watching games. We immediately noticed the kid area! It is in the corner but definitely not crowded, even with like 6 kids in there.

They had a big chalkboard, boxes full of toys, crayons and paper. My kids were totally entertained until the food came, so I got to relax.

We were starving so I immediately ordered. We got their homemade lemonade, which we sucked down - so good! I got the chicken nachos with guacamole, bang bang cauliflower app (Flash fried and tossed in City Bev's classic Bang-Bang), and the kids got a child's burger and a grilled cheese. 

Gotta admit I am a huge fan of the sauce on the cauliflower - think it's the only place I'll ever eat it! The nachos weren't quite how CityBev used to make them but it's nice that they kept some dishes as tribute to the past.

I was also happy to see that several former staff members are still working there, because they're great and talented food service workers. 

The menu is changing, with specials everyday and a brunch menu to come. 

Overall, we had a great time. It was perfect for a quick lunch and I can't wait to try it out for dinner or a moms night out on the patio. Happy to see another great brewery as well and am looking forward to tasting their first brews!

What we loved: It's got a nice clean feel and a combination of standards and unique takes on dishes. The kids area makes it one of the few restaurants in town that understands how keeping kids happy keeps parents coming, so I know SoDu Parents Posse members and Stir Crazy readers appreciate that!

What we would change: The kinks were still being worked out with food as they had just had their first delivery, but they were really receptive to all input I've seen so far. So reach out if you have any advice for the new biz as they grow!

The details: 
Hope Valley Brewing Company
4810 Hope Valley Road (formerly city Beverage)

Call for reservations at 919-294-4955
FCC disclosure: Hope Valley Brewing Company provided us with a free lunch for three so that we could provide an informed review of their restaurant and food. No endorsement was promised in exchange.

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