Arts & Culture

Carolina Performing Arts season includes Tift Merritt, Steep Canyon Rangers and a Broadway superstar

Tift Merritt will perform at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill as part of Carolina Performing Arts 2017-2018 season.
Tift Merritt will perform at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill as part of Carolina Performing Arts 2017-2018 season. COURTESY OF JASON FRANK ROTHENBE

Carolina Performing Arts has announced its new season – and put an opening date on its new performing arts lab and theater in downtown Chapel Hill.

CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio, the new, interactive, immersive space in the Carolina Square development on West Franklin will open in February 2018.

The idea behind the space is to provide a place for students, faculty, staff and the public to see innovative new works and interact with artists in residence through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation DisTil Fellowship program. The 2017-18 fellows are singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon and installation artist and puppeteer Robin Frohardt.

In addition, the Nannerl O. Keohane Visiting Professorship is, for the first time, including artists in its visiting scholars program. This year those artists are musician and writer Jace Clayton, also known for his work as DJ/rupture, and muralist Nina Chanel Abney, whose work is currently featured at the Nasher Museum in Durham.

Performances scheduled for the new space for its first season are:

▪ Feb. 2-5, “Sound Maze” by Paul Dresher Ensemble

▪ Feb. 19, “We are Gob Squad and So are You” by Gob Squad

▪ Feb. 23-24, “Revolution Now!” by Gob Squad

▪ April 7, Boots Riley and The Coup

▪ April 11-15, “The Fever” by 600 Highwaymen

▪ May 5-6, “Farfalle” (“Butterflies”) by Compagnia TPO, an interactive theater group from Italy.

The Carolina Performing Arts season at Memorial Hall on campus kicks off on Sept. 7. As usual there will be a mix of international artists and some local favorites in the 35 performers showcased.

The first show of the season is one that defies categories. Ghanaian global fusionist Jojo Abot’s show combines Afrobeat, jazz, reggae and electronica with fashion, film, literature and performance art.

Other highlights include the opera “Cold Mountain” based on the best-seller by N.C. author Charles Frazier and presented in collaboration with the North Carolina Opera; Steep Canyon Rangers on Jan. 12 and 13; six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald on March 2 and 3; and Raleigh singer-songwriter Tift Merritt on April 20.

Single tickets and season subscriptions will go on sale June 7. Subscriptions can be bought for the full season, a mini season, or you can pick four, six or eight shows to build your own subscription.

Complete ticket information will be available on their sale date. For more details on individual shows go to

Free admission

It’s Family Day from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at the Nasher Museum in Durham. That means you get in free. During the afternoon, the Arts in Action LEAP team will present a dance inspired by art on view and “Poetry Fox” will create original poems for visitors.

The Nasher is at 2001 Campus Drive in Durham. Call 919-684-5135 or go to for more information.

Then on June 4 the North Carolina Museum of Art will hold a free Family Renaissance Fair with music, games, craft demonstrations and food trucks.

The activities will be from noon to 4 p.m. inside the East Building and outside in the the museum park at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. Call 919-715-5923 for details.

Benefit concert

Laurel Harris, Lauren Kennedy, Rob Marnell and Ariana DeBose have this in common: They all grew up in the Raleigh area. They all are Broadway performers. And they’re all back home Monday, May 22, to perform a 7:30 p.m. benefit concert for Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

There will also be a silent auction of signed posters and playbills from Broadway hits.

The show will be in the sanctuary at 1801 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. That means seating is limited and you should get reservations. The suggested minimum donation is $50 – cheap compared to Broadway show standards.

Money raised will go toward making much needed repairs to the church.

For details and to get tickets go to .