Curtain rises tonight on Durham scholarship benefit show

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 09:29 PM

It’s true for Carnegie Hall and it’s true for the Durham Performing Arts Center: getting there takes practice, practice, practice.

On Wednesday, Mary Casey, director of K-12 arts education for Durham Public Schools hustled from the main DPAC stage to the upper mezzanines and back again, checking on progress of rehearsals for more than 500 elementary, middle and high school students.

They’re all gearing up for tonight’s An Evening of Entertainment, an annual fundraising event in which DPS partners with the Durham Public Schools Scholarship Foundation to raise money for middle-income students who might need a little help bridging the gap for college.

And, as Casey is telling students, it’s not like what they see on “Glee.”

“Kids don’t just decide to perform and it’s perfect,” she said. “You have to rehearse. You have to go over it again and again and refine it. It’s a valuable lesson in discipline.”

The tradition started about 35 years ago. Rachel Lawrence, executive board member of DPSSF, helped kick it all off at Jordan High School. She has seen it grow, through the merger of the county and city school districts and to the point where, in 2005, they shifted to DPAC to accommodate more than just parents who wanted to see the kids perform.

“It’s been great to see it grow and become what it is today,” Lawrence said.

The event raises anywhere from $12,000-20,000 for 13 scholarships, said Linda Routh, president of DPSSF. The foundation will interview student applicants in April and award scholarships in May. For scholarship information and application forms, visit online.

During the one-night-only show, students will sing “Castle on a Cloud” from “Les Miserables,” “Down to the River” from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid,” among others.

Several clinicians are helping with the event, including vocal coach Jacqueline Holcombe from Cary, professional choreographer Michael Weaver from Chicago, Erin Dangler from Chapel Hill and Willie Hinton from Raleigh.

Tickets for the event, which runs 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight, range from $10 to $35.


Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at


Go and Do

What: An Evening of Entertainment

Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham

When: Tonight (Thursday), 7 to 8:30 p.m.

How Much: Tickets cost $10 to $35. Buy online at, by phone at 919-680-2787, or onsite at the box office while they last.