Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NC Theatre: Billy Elliot featuring NC Star Talent!



Last night was opening night in Raleigh for the NC Theatre's production of Billy Elliot at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The show runs through this Sunday, February 15th and you can get tickets now from the NC Theatre website. The Raleigh cast includes some outstanding North Carolina star power. Ira David Wood III and Ira David Wood IV are cast as Billy's father and older brother. They both do an excellent job in conveying the anger and frustration of this historically tumultuous and violent time in the Northern England coal fields in the 1980's.  Margaret Thatcher was opposed to the National Union of Mineworkers and was determined to shut down the unions. The strike lasted a year, with the unions ultimately broken down and the industry virtually dismantled.

In the midst of all this, Billy Elliot (played by Sam Faulkner), the youngest child of his family, accidentally stumbles on ballet and dance and discovers he has a true rare talent as a dancer. Trying to pursue his newly discovered passion is almost impossible as it conflicts with his responsibility to his family in the middle of very trying times in his family and community as a whole. He tries to keep his new found passion a secret but in the end, his true desire to follow his dreams wins out.

The show deals with serious themes, but they manage to interject several funny and heartfelt moments, especially from Ira David Wood III. I brought my 15 year old daughter who is passionate herself about dance and theater. She loved the show as well. However, I would not recommend bringing kids much younger than her due to strong adult language used often.

Another NC talent, the young Sam Faulkner does an amazingly great job as Billy Elliot. Sam is from Charlotte and is truly a rising star.  He is engaging to watch and several of the dance numbers are magical. The group numbers are fantastic. The changing of sets on stage is creative and well done. All the cast members do a great job in their performances, including the dance instructor, Mrs Wilkinson, played by Janet Dickinson, mixing serious moments, with lighthearted fun.

I appreciated the opportunity to get to see this show, especially to take my daughter along with me. Thank you to NC Theatre and to Leigh Hines and her new #OutAboutNC community. North Carolina has so much to offer and you can share and follow along by using the hashtag #OutAboutNC on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Get out and support your local performing arts and see this show packed with North Carolina star talent! It's a great idea for Valentine's Day!

Below I've included some amazing pictures from last night's show taken by Curtis Brown Photography.

Cast

Ira David Wood III and Sam Faulkner

Sam Faulkner and the ballet girls

Sam Faulkner and Maximilien Baud
Janet Dickinson and Sam Faulkner

Sam Faulkner and Maximilien Baud

Sam Faulkner








Thursday, February 5, 2015

Instagram Travel Thursday: Venice, Italy

Before our trip to Italy this past Summer, I couldn't even imagine what the city of Venice would be like. I had heard good and bad...it was dirty, it was expensive, it was crowded, it was like Disneyland.

We arrived by train and literally stepped directly into the heart of Venice from the train station. We were immediately taken in by this stunning city, as if we had traveled back in time or stepped out of a page in a history book. We gathered our bags and walked to our hotel a fair distance away, unnoticed as we were all swept up in taking in the sights and sounds of this ancient and magical Italian city.


We stayed at The Boscolo Venezia which had a surprisingly large, beautiful and mysterious garden in the back. We spent our time in Venice walking the streets and getting lost in the alleyways (you have to prepare yourself that you WILL get lost and its okay!), peering into shops, touring churches, sipping coffee and doing the usual touristy things. We did not ride a gondola which is quite pricey but we enjoyed seeing them everywhere and taking plenty of pictures. We walked a lot!

We had some fantastic meals off the beaten path. We loved strolling the city at dusk.  We took the tour of the Grand Canal which is worth doing to get a real sense of the city's famous waterways (there are NO CARS!). Piazza San Marco
was packed with summer tourists and pigeons, but we soaked it all in and enjoyed every minute of it. We had a fantastic dinner and bottle of wine at a quiet little restaurant with the friendliest host.  We watched the World Cup finals with the Italians at a local bar and even found some of the best craft beer in Europe!

I'm so glad we spent time in Venice. I will enjoy the memories we made of our Summer days and nights spent in Venice and how magical and beautiful it was to me.

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