Got a loved one, family member or close friend for whom its always difficult to find the right present? Tickets to an arts presentation can often fit the bill.
For the sophisticated jazz fan: Billy Childs Jazz Ensemble, with Dianne Reeves, (Oct. 4, Duke Performances, Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University. $15-$42; dukeperformances.org). Being first to hear a new piece is always a badge of honor. For this concert Childs, a three-time Grammy winner, premieres a Duke Performances-commissioned song cycle, sung by Reeves, a four-time Grammy-winner. Great for bragging rights.
For the picky teenager: Spring Awakening (Oct. 4-27, Raleigh Little Theatre. $12-$25; raleighlittletheatre.org) Parents may be a bit uncomfortable with the subject matter, but teens will relate to all the confusion and intense feelings explored in this musical about coming-of-age sexuality in late 19th century Germany. The indie-rock score and the non-traditional staging add further teen appeal.
For the avid history buff: The Best of Enemies (Dec. 5-21, Manbites Dog Theater, Durham. $12-$18; manbitesdogtheater.org). Call it living local history. This dramatization of events during Durhams turbulent school integration in 1971 is based on the recent book of the same name. Two opposites, Ann Atwater, an African-American civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, become unlikely allies as members of the desegregation steering committee, leading to unexpected change and friendship.