On screen and stage, highlights of 2013
The year in Entertainment in The Herald-Sun coverage area includes Broadway and Hollywood making regular visits to town, with some staying for a night or much longer. Durham and Chapel Hill have plenty of homegrown entertainment, too. Here are a few news making events in 2013:
One of the holiday movies in theaters this season is “Black Nativity,” starring Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson. The film’s executive producer, Joy Goodwin, lives in Chapel Hill, moving here from New York while “Black Nativity” was being made. Goodwin optioned the rights for the adaptation of Langston Hughes’ gospel play after seeing it off Broadway six years ago.
Speaking of Broadway, national tours of Broadway shows were on stage at the Durham Performing Arts Center about once a month in 2013. The year brought the return of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Blue Man Group” plus other fan favorites “Everything Goes” and “Mary Poppins.” The big show the second half of this season is “The Book of Mormon,” which will be at DPAC in February and is already sold out.
North Carolina is fertile soil for “American Idol” contestants and winners, including singer Clay Aiken, who had some nice things to say about the Bull City this year while working on a Raleigh production. Both sides of his family come from Triangle communities, and he lives in Durham now. The Aikens and the Claytons are from Bahama and from Person County.
“I still drive around town and think how lucky I am to live here,” Aiken said. “People would come to visit and say, ‘There are so many trees here.’ I thought that’s a stupid thing to say, but I’ve been around and we do have a lot of trees.”
Aiken has a Durham address, is geographically in Chatham County and is closest to Cary. “Durham’s got a trendy, SoHo hip feel to it … Durham has always had character, but not always the character you wanted it to have,” Aiken said.
He talked about the resurgence of downtown, with the Durham Performing Arts Center, American Tobacco Campus and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has made Durham a destination for filmmakers and film fans for years. It delivered again in 2013, with a variety of films like “Medora,” the documentary about the Medora High School basketball team in the small, poverty-stricken Indiana town. Most sports documentaries are about the drive to the championship, said filmmaker David Rothbart at the festival. This was about the drive to win just one game. “Medora” was picked up for wider release nationwide later in the year, and it came back to Durham to be shown at Full Frame’s new theater on the American Tobacco Campus. The upcoming festival will be held April 3-6.
A Durham entertainment institution celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013: the Durham Savoyards. It began with a 1963 production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” and 50 years later, two cast members from that first show returned to the stage for the Savoyards’ performance of “The Pirates of Penzance” in March.
In 1963, Jim Sackett was in the chorus for “Pirates,” which was a performance by the Durham Theatre Guild.
“It didn’t become Durham Savoyards until after the performance. We decided it would be a good idea to do more of them,” Sackett said. “It was a good show, well received. So the next year, they did the next most popular one in the canon, I suppose, called ‘H.M.S. Pinafore.’ It just kept going from there.”