Sunday, September 29, 2013

North Carolina Theatre thanks donors with music and spa services


By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 29, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Up until a couple years ago, one would never have expected to find me at a symphony or a musical. I use to think – granted back in the day – the these things were for just girls. I guess a lot has changed over the years.

Lauren Kennedy and her daughter Riley Campbell.
In recent years, I’ve seen classics such as Wicked, Rent, Jeckyll & Hyde and Anything Goes. I’ve seen some of the obscure ones as well, in the likes of Avenue Q, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors. I’ve also seen some very witty performances such as War Horse and Nerds (which I have to admit was a great show).

Sharing a table with a couple cast members of Les Miserables, 
and the owners of Synergy Spa.
Thanks to Theatre in the Park, I’ve been behind the scenes for A Christmas Carol, getting to meet Ira David Wood. With the North Carolina Theatre, I’ve met cast members of Legally Blonde and actress, singer/model, Cybill Shepherd. I’ve talked to North Carolina Symphony’s lead conductor, Grant Llewellyn, prior to him conducting a performance in France. Durham Performing Arts Center has hooked me up with interviews by cast members of The Jersey Boys and West Side Story. I’ve talked to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs … oh, wait, the actors who portray them onstage, that is.

A couple performers of the play, CATS.

I’ve kind of been around the block. Or around the World from where I stood three years ago.

Recently, I was invited to come to a party thrown by the North Carolina Theatre to thank their members and donors. The event took place at Synergy Spa & Aesthetics in Raleigh off Glenwood Avenue and brought in around 70+ patrons. There I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Kennedy and her daughter, Riley, who will both appear in NCT’s performance of Les Miserables this season (starring as Fantine and Cosette). 

A couple girls from the Spa pose for a photograph.
Inside the spa, I strolled through the rooms and eventually found myself getting a 10-minute chair massage by massage therapist Terri Campbell.

“You can’t write about it, without experiencing it,” she says. Sure enough I was coaxed into a good, deep massage that left me rather relaxed.

The evening ended with Lauren singing a few songs to the crowd, which unfortunately I had to miss due to a prior engagement. But I’m hoping this year to get my wife to the theater to view the performance of Les Miserables. The show runs from Feb. 11-23.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Taste of Award-Winning Wines: Bell Wine Cellars

Bell Cellar Wines from Napa Valley.

By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 27, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you must not read my blogs. 

But to say I enjoy wine and beer is an understatement. There are a lot of great wine and beer shops around Raleigh that offer up some great deals and great tastings. If you don’t take these places up on their offers, then I’m assuming you don’t enjoy the finer things in life like I do.

My latest tasting of some great wines came courtesy of the Bedford Wine Club. Well, actually of The Wine Cellar located in Sutton Station in Durham. Store owner Danny Moran supplied the wines, while Dana Clark, president of the Wine Club, gathered the troops for this event.

Around 30 people attended the September club to try 4 wines from the California label, Bell Wine Cellars. Hailing from Napa Valley, co-founder Anthony Bell has been around since 1991 created some artisan wines. The wines included in our $10 tasting fee included the following:

  • Bell Wine Cellars “Big Guy” Red ($30) - This red was named after Anthony’s dog, Ty, which he calls “big guy.” A blend of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
  • Bell Wine Cellars “Canterbury” Syrah ($50) - A dark, ruby red wine with spice and cracked white pepper aromas.
  • Bell Wine Cellars Claret Cabernet ($45) - Rich in fruit aromas – with hints of licorice, plum and violets.
  • Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet ($65) - A blend of several cab clones, softened with Cab Franc and a dash of Merlot.
Now I have to admit, these were some good wines, but I really wished I could have tried a little more than a 1-ounce pour of each. At the end of the tasting, I was able to try a little bit more of the Claret … but when 20 other people rush to fill their glasses as well, you really don’t get that much more than an extra 2-ounces.

But it was still a deal. While checking out Bell Wine Cellar’s website they offer their tastings for $20 per person! Sorry, this boy isn’t going to pay those high dollar Napa wine tasting games. Wait … I’m going to Napa in April of next year. Let’s hope I can use my wonderful charm and contacts in California to avoid those incredible mark-up fees.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fundraising with Wine and The Piano Man

By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 15, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Joe O'Keefe, center, plays songs on his keyboard along side his
daughter and college friend.

Finding great customer service these days is like finding a needle in a haystack. 

And I know every time I make my way into Wine 101 in Wake Forest, the needle is always there to welcome me. A handshake. A pat on the back. A sample of a new beer on draft that I would probably like. It’s all there. All thanks to Joe, Jeffrey and Rufus.

My last visit to Wine 101 just so happened to be on Sept. 13. It was a Friday. It's one of those nights where Mr. Jason Voorhees gets a lot of attention. But not that night. One that freaky Friday, all the attention was upon Wine 101 store owner Joe O'Keefe. 

After the store closed its doors to the general public around 8:30 pm, a flock of around 30 stuck around for a fundraiser to help support a new Wake Forest community theater. Forest Moon Theater is helmed by the team of Bob Baird and Cathy Gouge, they along with O’Keefe, were on hand for this night of entertainment.

If you know O’Keefe, like I do, you know that even though he runs a wine shop, music is his passion. And he showed the crowd his passion for music that night when he sat behind his keyboard and pounded out tunes to some of his favorite artists.

Billy Joel. Elton John. Ben Folds. Don McLean … to name a few. He kicked off his set with Joel’s Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, which starts up aptly enough with the lyrics, “A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose´ instead …”

We enjoyed around an hour of tunes by O’Keefe, which had us all singing along with him to Elton John’s Benny and the Jets, Don McLean’s American Pie, and the final song of the evening, the timeless Billy Joel classic, Piano Man. My hats off to O’Keefe and Wine 101 for hosting this fundraiser.

And I can’t wait to catch a performance at the new Forest Moon Theater in Wake Forest.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

ECU Pirates fall short to Virginia Tech


By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 14, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Purple! Gold! Purple! Gold!

This color combination was seen and heard a lot on Sept. 14, when I made my first ever appearance to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium … home of the East Carolina Pirates.

The stadium, which seats 50,000 Pirate fans, were up on their feet when their home town team went head-to-head against the Hokies of Virginia Tech. The game started off pretty good for the Pirates, who took their opening drive 75-yards for the team’s only touchdown of the afternoon.

A view from our seats in the Pirate Club Seating.

Yes. I said it. The Pirates only scored 1 touchdown … and 1 field goal. But it was fun watching the game with my wife and two of our friends, who were nice enough to invite us to the game. Along with giving us tickets to watch the game in the Pirate Club seats, they also invited us to their “breakfast tailgate.”

The ECU band's formation is in the shape of our state.

After we had a few alcoholic drinks, we made our way into the stadium, and up to our seats. The seats had us looking down around the 40-yard line, so we had a great view of every play. But there was one thing that we could have used … some clouds! The sun was beating down on us the entire game, and with no sunscreen, I got baked!

My forearms, knees, nose and neck were beet red when I got home. The same applies to my wife, who is also as bright as a red solo cup.

One of the highlights of the game was Virginia Tech’s kicker, who kept the Pirates hopes up all day. Cody Journell missed two easy field goals, one extra point, and would have missed a third field goal if it wasn’t called back due to a penalty on the Pirates. I joked with my friend, telling him that “Cody was the Pirates best player.”

A video clip I took in between plays.

So, after the Pirates lost the game 15-10, I broke down the game to my friend.

"Your quarterback stinks," I said.

"I wasn't expecting them to win this game anyway," he replies.

"You won't win many if he continues to play like that. The O-line is bad, and no receivers can get open. But their record is 2-1, so who knows."

ECU's next game is against the dreaded Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. This is one game where I hope the Pirates come out of there 3-1. Yeah, I'm not a UNC fan ... sorry.