A look back: Another blockbuster year at DPAC
A look back at the year in entertainment in Durham absolutely must include the place that draws thousands upon thousands to Broadway shows, concerts and special events throughout the year. The Durham Performing Arts Center has exceeded expectations since it opened in the fall of 2008. It’s been going gangbusters ever since, and this past year was ranked No. 1 by Pollstar magazine for ticket sales, and the Carolina Theatre also joined the list, at the 88th spot worldwide.
Carolina Theatre has grown its audiences and diversified its schedule, adding more concerts along with annual festivals like Full Frame.
Billboard magazine listed DPAC as third in gross tickets sales. DPAC continues to win consecutive honors for best theater and entertainment venue from North Carolina publications, and more than a million people have come to DPAC over the past four years.
The Broadway tour of “Wicked” flew back onto the DPAC stage in 2012 for a month-long stay in May, giving audiences the chance to “defy gravity” again or for the first time. Several of the shows put the music in musical with tour stops from hit productions of “Memphis,” “Jersey Boys” and “Chicago,” whose Broadway star Bianca Marroquin stepped into the tour heels of Christie Brinkley for the Durham shows.
The fall season began with the World War I epic “War Horse,” which was much more than just a story of a boy and his horse, showing the battlefield through an animal’s eyes. The realistic horse puppetry raised the bar for what can be done.
The year in concerts at DPAC meant many sell-out shows, including Loretta Lynn, Al Green, Anita Baker, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Martin and the Rangers reprised their sold out show from 2011, and brought the house down with banjo, fiddle and humor during their June concert.
-- Elsewhere in downtown Durham this year, the CenterFest arts festival returned after a year off for planning. Once in the heart of downtown, then shifted to the Durham Central Park area, CenterFest was on hiatus in 2011, returning in September 2012 to the city center. Sponsored by the Durham Arts Council, the artists and visitors to the revamped CenterFest were pleased with the variety of artists and glad to see it back home.