Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert


On October 14, also at the Bulls Athletic Park, country-music award winner Miranda Lambert will perform, along with special guests Eric Church and Josh Kelley. The singer-songwriter from Texas broke country music history in August when she was nominated for nine Country Music Association Awards, including the top award, Entertainer of the Year — most ever for a female country music artist.  Lambert’s recent album, “Revolution,” was widely hailed by her peers and critics and also the winner of Academy of Country Music’s 2009’s Album of the Year. The Durham stop is part of Country Music Television’s  “Revolution” Tour that includes special guests Eric Church and Josh Kelley.   The Durham Bulls website has more details and ticket information.

Downtown Durham is a hub of musical and theatrical entertainment, festivals and events throughout the fall and into the holiday season. Duke Tower is the perfect relaxing spot to park your gear, put your favorite beverage in the ‘frige, and explore the history of the region, hiking or biking trails, shopping, restaurants or enjoy another of the multitude of activities that crowd Durham’s entertainment calendar during the next few months.

Posted by: duketower | October 8, 2010

Celebrate Fall in the Peidmont at the World Beer Festival


Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Bulls Athletic Park


If there ever was an event to welcome the beautiful October weather in the Durham area, this is it.  Get your hotel reservations, put on your walking shoes or designate your driver and be ready to celebrate. Celebrate how the world does beer, that is, at the World Beer Festival on October 9 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  The park, reflecting many characteristics of old-time baseball stadiums and the historic downtown Durham architecture, is only 5 minutes (with your designated driver!) from Duke Tower or an easy 20-minute walk while enjoying the warm fall sunshine and Durham’s historic buildings on the way.

Ranked by USA Today as one of the top beer festivals in the world, the event is not just about tasting; it is designed to celebrate the culture of beer from around the world. In addition to the 150 world-class breweries that will participate, there will be live music, local restaurants ad professional beer presentations (plus, of course, the tastings).  It’s just one more reason to visit Durham this fall.  You can find more details on the event website.

Posted by: duketower | August 20, 2010

Duke Classes and Natalie Merchant Launch Fall in Durham

This fall, Durham will host a cadre of well-known performers plus local productions that have grown into recognized, not-to-be missed events. For those visiting Durham in the next few months to get students settled in for fall semester, attend a Blue Devils football game or have a health check up at Duke Medical Center, you will find a wealth of activities within a few minutes of Duke Tower. Some of the many events and fall pursuits in the area will be profiled here during the next month to help with advance planning for your trip.

Fall classes begin at Duke University on August 30 with orientation for new graduate and undergrad students getting underway on August 24. Duke University is within a short walk (and an even shorter drive) from Duke Tower which hosts many parents, students and faculty throughout the year.

In addition to the first day of classes at Duke, August 30 also brings internationally-recognized singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant to the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). DPAC is just 1.5 miles (4 minutes) from Duke Tower and brings a broad range of top-ranked live entertainment to our city year round.

Durham is one of the stops on Merchant’s first major tour in seven years. Over her nearly 30-year career, she has been recognized as one of America’s most respected recording artists with a reputation as a gifted songwriter and a captivating performer. After rising to fame with the folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant became even more prominent as a solo artist during the 1990s. Her self-produced debut album, Tigerlily (1995) sold five million copies in the U.S. alone. Her socially conscious songs established her among the preeminent women in pop music.

Natalie Merchant

Natalie Merchant in Durham on August 30

Merchant took an extended break from recording and touring after the birth of her daughter in 2003. During this time, Merchant researched, wrote and recorded songs adapted from the works of various classic and contemporary poets. Entitled, Leave Your Sleep, it was released in April and is her first studio album in seven years. She and her band will perform songs from her new album as well as favorites from throughout her career. Ticket information is on the DPAC’s website.

In addition to the nearby DPAC, Duke Tower is also close to many outstanding restaurants featuring a wide range of cuisines. Many are located in the Bright Leaf Square and Ninth Street areas. Prior editions of this blog provide the details. If you’ll be in Durham at the end of August, include an evening of enjoyment in your plans starting with a wonderful meal at a nearby restaurant followed by the Natalie Merchant concert.

If you’re visiting later in the fall, this column will include local events throughout the season to consider in your plans.

Posted by: duketower | June 27, 2010

Garden Courtyard Hosts Events

Duke Tower receives many compliments and referrals from guests for which we are greatly appreciative. One aspect of Duke Tower that is mentioned over and over again is the beautifully-landscaped courtyard and garden, a wonderful discovery sheltered from the sites and sounds of Durham by the hotel that surrounds it.

Duke Tower Hotel Garden CourtyardDuke Tower Garden Courtyard

Carefully planned and lovingly cared for by Duke Tower staff, this little-known gem is enjoyed by the guests whose hotel suites face the lush courtyard. It is also the site for many Durham gatherings:  family reunions, graduations, small wedding parties, corporate or social events, anniversary celebrations, musical performances, art displays and organizational events.

From a small dinner group of 15 inside the historic Tower Cafe to more sizable event of 200 in the flower and art-filled courtyard, events range from casual to formal in a completely unique Durham setting.

Not only does Duke Tower’s Garden Courtyard provide a stunning and unusual backdrop for an event, the hotel’s other offerings, such as the recreation area, the charming Tower Café or the sparkling pool can also be incorporated into the plans.

Located minutes away from Duke University and Duke Medical Center, combined with the hotel’s partnerships with many area healthcare providers, arts venues and business organizations, Duke Tower’s Garden Courtyard is a convenient setting for events.  There is also plenty of free parking.

Duke Tower courtyard special event

The Garden Courtyard hosts events for groups from 15 to 200

Rental fees are based on the area of the courtyard to be used and the specific arrangements to fit your needs. An event at Duke Tower is especially ideal if there are guests arriving from outside of Durham with package rates for a combined courtyard event and overnight accommodations.

Whether for a social, family or business event, Duke Tower’s Garden Courtyard provides a distinctive and enjoyable venue for memorable event.  More photos are on the courtyard phototour section of the hotel website.

For more information about holding an event at Duke Tower, contact  Val Blettner at 919-687-4444 or, if you’re in Durham, stop by to see us and learn what the courtyard buzz is all about.

Small garden seating area

One of the Courtyard's many conversation spots

Posted by: duketower | April 19, 2010

Duke Tower Welcomes “Wicked” to Durham and the DPAC

Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums is pleased to welcome the cast and crew of the Broadway show Wicked to Durham and the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Wicked will be performing at the DPAC April 21 through May 16, 2010. Many, if not all, of the performances at the DPAC are already sold out.

As one of the hotels closest to the DPAC, we will be the accommodation of choice for many visitors coming to see Wicked from out of town or even local residents just looking to get away from it all for an evening.

Wicked is a Broadway and West End musical, with songs and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. The story is based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a parallel novel of the 1939 film of L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz.

Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West and her relationship with Galinda, later Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Their friendship struggles through their opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, their reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. The plot of the first act is set before Dorothy’s arrival from Kansas, and includes several references to well-known scenes and dialogue in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz as a backstory.

Wicked the musical premiered at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre in May 2003. In October, 2003, the show moved to Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.  Although the production received mixed reviews and was panned by The New York Times, it has proved to be a favorite among patrons. The Broadway production’s success spawned productions in Chicago, Los Angeles, London’s West End, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney, Stuttgart, and San Francisco, as well as two North American tours that have visited over 30 cities in Canada and the United States.

"Wicked" has broken box office records around the world

Wicked has broken box office records around the world, holding weekly-gross-takings records in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London, and the record for biggest opening in the West End (£100,000 in the first hour on sale). Both the West End production and the North American tour have been seen by over two million patrons.

If you are coming from out of town to see Wicked, we hope you will make make Duke Tower your choice for overnight accommodations in Durham. We will be offering a free shuttle service to and from the DPAC for all Wicked performances. We will also drop you off at one of our many nearby excellent restaurants for a pre- or post-performance dinner, then come pick you up. Please enjoy breakfast the next day in our Historic Tower Cafe. We aim to make your trip to Durham for Wicked a memorable experience that you will pleasantly recall for many years.

And don’t be surprised, while staying with us during that time, if you see a someone on a broomstick flying around our Tower on a foggy April night!

We are very pleased to announce that Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums has been chosen as the “Official Filmmaker Hotel” for the 2010 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, April 8-11, at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina.

With Duke Tower only a 15 minute walk to the Carolina Theatre, our hotel makes an easy choice for the organizers. Duke Tower will also be offering a shuttle bus service to and from our hotel to the Carolina Theatre.

Departure times in the mornings will be at 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM and 11:30 AM and in the afternoons at 5:30 PM, 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

At other times, film goers are welcome to call our shuttle driver at 919-323-1745 to either go to the festival or to be picked up at the Carolina Theatre.

Another reason Duke Tower was chosen was because of the many amenities we offer, such as free high speed internet/WiFi service, our full kitchens and separate living rooms and the overall relaxing ambiance.

Duke Tower is proud to be a supporter of Full Frame, the only international festival of its kind celebrating strictly the power and artistry of documentary cinema.

We hope that filmmakers will take a little time off from their busy schedule to enjoy our large outdoor swimming pool, our beautiful gardens now in bloom or the Historic Tower Cafe.

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is an annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of non-fiction cinema. Each spring Full Frame welcomes filmmakers and film lovers from around the world to historic downtown Durham for a four-day, morning to midnight array of over 100 films as well as discussions, panels, and southern hospitality. Set within a four-block radius, the intimate festival landscape fosters community and conversation between filmmakers, film professionals and the public.

Full Frame’s mission is to support the documentary form and community by showcasing the contemporary work of established and emerging filmmakers and by preserving film heritage through archival efforts and continued exhibition of classic documentaries. The festival is also committed to building wider national and international audiences for documentary film and enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the art form and its significance.

We welcome all filmmakers and attendees to the 2010 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. We look forward to serving our guests and contributing to make Full Frame 2010 a great festival.

Posted by: duketower | March 18, 2010

Carolina Theatre and Duke Tower Hotel

The Carolina Theatre, Less Than 1 Mile from Duke Tower

At Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums, we are pleased to be a partner of the Carolina Theatre, 309 West Morgan Street, located in downtown Durham less than one mile away from our hotel.

The Carolina Theatre is a Durham treasure, featuring:

  • Restored 1920s Beaux Arts theater of ochre-colored brick
  • 1,016-seat Fletcher Hall Auditorium with balcony includes buff-colored walls with turquoise and gold decorative finishes
  • Cinema 1 (276 seats) and Cinema II (76 seats) are decorated with unique motif stencil designs
  • Two elegant ballrooms and two large concessions lobbies decorated in teal, mahogany and gold

We often have guests stay at our hotel who are attending a movie, concert or festival at the Carolina Theatre. In fact, Duke Tower is listed as the number one recommended hotel on the Carolina Theatre website.

Duke Tower is proud to be associated with and a supporter of the Carolina Theatre. We are a sponsor of many events there and have spent many enjoyable evenings there watching a movie or seeing a concert. Duke Tower is also pleased to offer our free shuttle service to the Carolina Theater and back for our guests attending events there. Just let us know when you would like to go over and we will take you and pick you up, 24 hours a day. Call our shuttle service at 919-323-1745.

Interesting Movies

The Carolina Theatre is known for showing interesting films that you often will not see at other theaters. These may be independent films, lower-budget films, international films or animations.  Of the two or three films running at any particular time, it is rare that they do not have a film that will be of interest to someone. For example, the Carolina Theatre showed “Crazy Heart”, starring Jeff Bridges, before he was nominated (and won) the Academy Award for Best Actor. Recently they showed a compilation of all of the animation features that were nominated for Academy Awards. These animations were not shown at any other theater in the area–the Carolina was the only place you could see them.

Check out their current cinema offerings or just wander down and buy a ticket on the spot. You may see something you would not otherwise see and you might just enjoy it.

Upcoming Events

George Thoroughgood

On the entertainment and music side, George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers will be playing at the Carolina Theater on March 27th, Joanna Newsome with Jens Hannemann on March 25th and Al Jarreau and George Duke on June 19th. Other than these performances, the Carolina Theater offers a variety of musical performances, from classical to bluegrass to world music, throughout the year.

The Carolina Theatre offers an excellent venue for musical performances, with good acoustics and unobstructed views. We are sure you will enjoy the concerts. Check their website regularly for updates.

Retrofantasma Film Series

Started in 1998, Retrofantasma is a monthly film series of double-features dedicated to bringing classic horror movies back to the big screen in 35mm. Retrofantasma has developed a large dedicated audience of horror movie enthusiasts whose desire to see their favorite terror flicks is matched only by their willingness to cheer at the screen. From John Carpenter to Dario Argento to Lucio Fulci, this diverse film series offers it’s audience a joyful jolt of terror and nostalgia. You’ll likely find yourself screaming and applauding in the same breath. Before long, you’ll be joining the thousands of people who have whispered in the dark to their friends, “Did you ever see the one where….?” Much like the infamous midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Retrofantasma Film Series is pure devilish fun for anyone who loves the mysterious.

Upcoming Retrofantasma films include:

  • March 19, “Lifeforce” and “Killer Clowns from Outer Space”
  • April 23, “Videodrome” and “Terrorvision”
  • May 12, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Squirm”
  • June 18, “It Came from Outer Space” (in 3-d) and “Invaders from Mars”

For more information and times, see the Retrofantasma website.

Nevermore Film Festival

The Nevermore Film Festival was created in 1999. Nevermore is dedicated to screening brand new horror features from around the world, as well as some fan favorites. Many of these films will never receive a theatrical release in the United States. Classic suspense movies, hyper-violent Hong Kong cinema and everything in between are included. Nevermore is an exciting three-day feast of the macabre!

North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival

August 12-15, 2010
The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (NCGLFF) is the second largest gay and lesbian film festival in the Southeast, attracting thousands of patrons yearly. Since its beginning in 1995, the Festival has featured a diverse array of shorts, documentaries and feature films. The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau named the NCGLFF a Signature Event for Durham, the highest honor bestowed on a cultural event or attraction by the organization.

The NCGLFF celebrates a worldwide glimpse of today’s gay and lesbian life, helps bring the community together and features entertaining and sophisticated films and filmmaking.

Welcome to Durham, Duke Tower and the Carolina Theatre

We hope our guests, even if they are in Durham for other reasons, will venture over to the Carolina Theatre to check out what is playing. There are many good restaurants in the downtown area, so it is easy to make a “dinner and a movie” date when you are at Duke Tower. We are sure that if you go to the Carolina Theatre, you are likely to find something of interest.

Posted by: duketower | March 9, 2010

New Pricing, Services and Amenities at Duke Tower Hotel

At Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums, we are constantly listening to customer feedback, taking it on board and then crafting new offerings that address the needs of our customers. We give evaluation forms to every guest when they check-in and ask them to fill it out before leaving. The evaluations can be anonymously submitted, if so desired. We read every one and appreciate guests taking the time to give us their feedback.

Undoubtedly, pricing is one of the most important factors when choosing a hotel, but the location, services and amenities are also critical. We are pleased to offer changes and improvements in a number of these areas.

New Medical Rates

New lower rates now apply to all medically-related guests

We now offer a flat rate of $69 for all medically-related guests, including those guests participating in one of the local diet and fitness programs. Previously, we had a slightly higher rate for short-term stays if someone was on a weight-loss program. (Longer-term rates were the same.) However, many attendees to the weight-loss programs are also receiving medical treatment at Duke University. It seemed only fair to give the same low rates for a standard suite to all guests at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center or the Rice Diet Program.

For medically-related guests, premium suites remain at $85/night.

We have also introduced new “group” medical rates in cooperation with our reservations partner, Medstay. These group rates is only available through MedStay and certain group conditions apply. Please contact MedStay at 877-633-7829 for more information.

New HDTV Channels in Premium Suites

Premium Suites now offer high-definition channels

We are pleased to offer about 100 high-definition cable TV channels at Duke Tower Hotel. These will be available in our Premium Suites, which are equipped with wide-screen high-definition televisions. Guests will now be able to see all the major broadcast channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS) and many of your favorite cable channels, including many sports channels, in beautiful high-definition. Premium Suites, as in all of our suites, have two TVs, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. In Premium Suites, both TVs are HDTV-capable.

For a complete listing of our channels, click on the Time-Warner Cable Durham website here. (Note: Most, but not all, premium channels will be available at Duke Tower.)

New Duke Tower Mobile Website

The new Duke Tower mobile website on an iPhone

With the increased use of mobile devices such as the iPhone to access the internet, we find many of our guests trying to navigate our regular website with limited success. In response to this trend, we have developed a specialized website formatted especially for mobile devices, http://www.duketower.com/m/.

These days, we often receive phone calls from guests while they are on the road, traveling on I-85 or I-40 to Durham and wanting to make reservations. This website will enable that sort of use, featuring reduced content, smaller photographs and simpler navigation for greater ease of use.

By clicking on “Call Us”, the website will automatically insert our phone number into the mobile phone dialer, allowing for one-click calling.

If you bring up the mobile website with a regular browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, the content will look strange, but it is still usable.

There will be a link from the main website to the mobile site in the future. For now, please access the site directly here. If you are on the road, give us a call!

Hair Dryers Now Available for Guests

Hair dryers are now available in the office for loan to our guests. We have received many requests from guests over the years and we have heard you. We have bought a limited number of hair dyers, kept in the front office, that we will loan to our guests upon request. We know that most guests expect to have hair dryers in the hotel rooms when they are on the road. We now provide these to our guests on loan for free and only ask that they return the dryers when they check out.

New Round-Trip Discount Pricing for RDU International Shuttle

Our RDU Airport Shuttle is now even cheaper!

Our shuttle service to and from Raleigh-Durham International Airport has proven to be very popular with guests. Guests have the comfort of knowing they are riding with the hotel’s transportation (Not all cab drivers at RDU International Airport know the location of Duke Tower) and the convenience of charging the cost to their room.

Our regular charge is $35/person, each way. The previous cost would have been $70 for a round trip, but with the new $5 discount, a round-trip will be only $65. For additional people, the charge is only $5 each way, so for two people, the round-trip fare was previously $80, but with the discount it is $75. For three people, the total round trip cost was $90 and is now $85. For four people, the previous round trip cost was $100 and is now $95, or $23.75/person for a round trip, which is very reasonable.

To qualify for the discount, the round-trip reservations must be made in advance.

If you need to call our shuttle driver, the 24-hour number is 919-323-1745.

Expanded Breakfast Offerings and Hours  at the Historic Tower Cafe (and a Coupon!)

The Historic Tower Cafe

Based upon customer feedback, we have expanded our breakfast offerings in the Historic Tower Cafe to now include a variety of cereals, oatmeal and plain milk. We had many guests ask for cereal or oatmeal for breakfast and we have heard you. These new offerings are in addition to our gourmet coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bagels/cream cheese, muffins, hard-boiled eggs (already peeled), yogurt, fruit (bananas and oranges), a variety of fruit juices and flavored milk.

This all-you-can-eat continental breakfast is $5/adult, $2.50/children under 12.

Our breakfast hours have expanded to be from 6:00 AM to 10:30 AM, seven days a week.

Expanded breakfast offerings in the Tower Cafe

After breakfast hours we serve free coffee (Nescafe instant), tea and hot chocolate. We have the New York Times delivered daily for your reading pleasure. (We only have one copy delivered, so please do not take it back to your room!) We have a variety of magazines available and the WiFi signal is quite good in the tower.

During the day, we offer free Fuji apples for all guests in the hotel lobby. We think Fuji apples are the best and, based upon how fast they disappear every day, our guests agree!

We also have a coupon for one free adult breakfast available on the Duke Tower Google Maps site. This coupon is available for guests staying more than one night. Please print out the coupon and present it at check-in.

New Lower Pet Fees

Enjoying a Premium Pet Suite

We take pride in being a pet-friendly hotel and love our four-legged guests. In response, we have decided to lower our pet fees to be $10 for the first night and $5 for each additional night.

For two pets, the rate is $15.00 for the first night and $7.50 per night for all nights after the first night.

We find more and more guests want to bring their furry friends with them, especially on longer stays and especially if you are going undergoing some difficult treatment. Studies have shown the beneficial aspects of having pets on all aspects of humans, including lowering stress and speeding healing.

We also have a special pet-relief area on the property in the back-left (southwest) corner, in a grassy area next to the parking lot. This area means you do not have to leave the confines of Duke Tower. We have plastic bags available for picking up poop to make cleaning up easier. However, beyond the walls of  Duke Tower, there are many nice neighborhoods and wooded areas to walk your pet, especially in the beautiful Trinity Park neighborhood.

With our new lower fees, we are happy to make Duke Tower a little more “pet-friendly.”

Landscaping Improvements

Enjoying the courtyard

We continue to improve the landscaping in our 1.5 acre courtyard. While it is already beautiful, we are planting new trees, shrubs and flowers throughout the courtyard. We are building a covers over the two arbors we had already to provide shade in the hot summer month.

We also have some big plans for the last section (western-most, toward Duke Street) of the courtyard. We have cleared off the small, white stones that covered the concrete. We have begun planting new plants in the open areas of that section. We will keep our plans confidential for the moment, but we plan to turn this final section into one of the most attractive areas of the courtyard.

If you have never come by and see our courtyard, please do so if you are in the Raleigh-Durham area. The courtyard is somewhat European in style since all units at Duke Tower open inward, onto the courtyard, pool and tower. The entire focus of the Duke Tower property is inward, as opposed to looking out to the busy streets around us. We are proud of our courtyard, which offers a welcome respite from the hectic world outside.

Duke Tower on Facebook

Duke Tower on Facebook and Twitter

We are now on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/duke.tower. Check out our site for the latest in news, photos and updates.

And follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DukeTower.

We Listen to our Customers

At Duke Tower, we continue to listen to our customers and make changes and improvements based upon their feedback.

If  you have never stayed with us before, we hope that you will come and give us a try–we are sure you will enjoy it. If you are one of our many returning guests, then we say, “Welcome back!”

Posted by: duketower | February 23, 2010

“Spring Awakening” Broadway Show on Tour Comes to the DPAC

Spring Awakening Comes to Durham and the DPAC

“Spring Awakening”, a winner of 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, comes to the Durham Performing Arts Center, March 2-7, 2010.

We welcome the cast and crew to Durham and the DPAC. And we welcome all out-of-town show-goers to stay at Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums. We are less than one mile from the DPAC, with many excellent restaurants nearby. We will offering our usual free shuttle service to and from the DPAC for all of our guests. We will even drop you off at a restaurant, pick you up after your meal and take you to the show.

“Spring Awakening” is the groundbreaking fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll that has awakened Broadway like no other musical in years.  “Spring Awakening” celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, a poignancy and a passion you will never forget.

Teenage Angst

“Haunting and electrifying. This brave new musical has a shivery sensual allure unmatched by anything in the theater right now,”  wrote Charles Isherwood in The New York Times.

Note: Parental Discretion is advised. Mature content, including brief partial nudity, sexual situations, and strong language.

Here are some excerpts from a review of Spring Awakening on tour from the Fort Myers, Florida, News-Press:

When I saw “Spring Awakening” on Broadway in 2007, before it won eight Tony Awards, I immediately wanted to see it again. The passion of the performers, the raw emotional power of the story, the accessibility of the music were like nothing I’d ever seen on a theatrical stage.

Because of its frank sexual content and offbeat juxtaposition of 19th century German characters with modern music and choreography, it seemed a long shot for touring. I figured I’d never get a chance to see it again.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

The New York Times named “Spring Awakening” one of the most significant musicals of the last decade, and the magic is intact in the touring production. The performances are as engaging, the staging as energetic as the acclaimed original.

To be sure, it is not for everyone, as evidenced by a noticeable stream of older theatergoers leaving during intermission at Tuesday’s opening night. “Spring Awakening” is not a traditional, upbeat musical comedy. It’s more truthful, earnest and relevant than anything theatergoers are accustomed to.

“Spring Awakening” is more like a rock concert entwined with a deeply moving story about teens experiencing the wonder of sexual awakening, the pain of lost innocence and the weight of social pressure. Their parents, meanwhile, can’t bring themselves to help their confused offspring.

Winner of the Tony Award for "Best Musical"

“Mama who bore me,” a young girl sings in the opening number. “Mama who gave me …No way to handle things … Who made me so sad.”

The plot and themes are as timely now as they were when the original play was written in 1891. “Spring Awakening” is alternately funny and tragically dark but never less than enthralling.

Creators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater invented an unlikely but effective idea to bridge time. The characters break out of their period-based scenes to sing rock and folk songs that express their inner turmoil with an intensity that reflects the heightened emotions of adolescence. Rock music has always served as such an outlet, so the show’s structural concept actually seems more natural than most Broadway musicals.

The ringleader among the teens is Melchior, played charismatically by Jake Epstein. He’s a rebel who challenges conformity and enlightens his peers about the mechanics and pleasures of physical love. Epstein is equally adept at singing tender ballads like “Left Behind” and wildly energetic rockers like “Totally F—ed” (which earned the longest round of applause on opening night).

Melchior initiates a willing paramour in Wendla, played with a complex mixture of innocence and curiosity by Christy Altomare. She possesses a remarkably sweet, expressive soprano in a role indelibly originated by Lea Michelle, the actress now starring on Fox’s hit musical-comedy, “Glee.”

Taylor Trensch also creates a memorable presence as Moritz, a boy tortured by self-doubt and failure. Trensch’s clenched physicality and impassioned singing express the character’s intense vulnerability.

With its simple but versatile brick-wall set, “Spring Awakening” doesn’t boast the dazzling effects of a show like last season’s blockbuster “Wicked.” But its energy and honesty resonate more powerfully than anything seen here in a long time.

We welcome “Spring Awakening” to Durham and the DPAC. We look forward to a successful stay in Durham for this exciting and groundbreaking musical.

Posted by: duketower | February 11, 2010

Duke Tower Welcomes the Nevermore Horror Film Festival

Duke Tower Hotel & Condominiums welcomes the 11th Nevermore Horror Film Festival to Durham, February 19-21, 2010, at the nearby Carolina Theatre. If history is any guide, and from looking at our reservations so far, Duke Tower will have many of the out-of-town attendees staying with us. Duke Tower will be running a free 24-hour shuttle service from our hotel to the Carolina Theatre during the Nevermore Festival, which is less than one mile away. It is also an easy walk in good weather.

Outside banner opening night at the Carolina Theatre

According to the Carolina Theatre, this year’s festival should be a great one. The 11th Nevermore Film Festival is blessed with great movies.  The 23 new titles at this year’s festival range from quietly creepy to friggin’ brutal and some will scare you more than others.

You’ll be surprised at how expensive and slick many of these films look, despite having budgets that wouldn’t cover the catering costs on Avatar.  Others have plots worthy of Agatha Christie, and that’s saying something these days when it seems every new horror movie is an over-produced remake of something that wasn’t all that inspired in the first place.  But don’t worry: If it’s good, old-fashioned splatter flicks from the 80’s you’re hankering for, here are three of the bloody best: Re-Animator, Witchboard, and Night of the Demons.

Nevermore 2010 welcomes back Kevin Tenney (2008’s Brain Dead) to talk about Witchboard and Demons, as well as his reputation as a director of 80’s classic horror films.  And kids and families are not forgotten, either! Nevermore will be screening 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, considered by many to be one of the best horror comedies ever made.

We look forward to welcoming all of our horror film fans back to Duke Tower again. If you have trouble sleeping after seeing the movies, you can always wander around our courtyard and hang out in our Historic Tower.

Regardless, Nevermore 2010 promises to be a MONSTERous good time!

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