Oakwood Cemetery—The list of "performers" for Burning Coal Theatre's latest production is not yet set in (tomb)stone. Set in Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, Elegies is the company's fourth foray into the tales of the cemetery's famous and infamous residents. Past appearances have included former N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano and Margaret Mitchell's rakish first husband Red Upshaw (an inspiration for one Rhett Butler), but playwright Ian Finley isn't disclosing who appears at tonight's opening of this collection.
Though some may balk at the idea of a play not only about the dead but set amongst them, Burning Coal artistic director Jerome Davis says each of the pieces done there have been "moving in a way we hadn't expected. No matter where you dig—pun intended—you find an incredible story." Inspiration for the play was found through Glenwood history buffs, old newspapers and well-known Raleigh folklore, as well as general investigating around the cemetery. A touching epitaph on one headstone became a moving reflection on life-making moments, while an angel statue whose head was stolen and found behind the A&P makes for comic relief.
Using a cemetery as a theater comes with its own set of challenges. A cluster of bushes becomes a changing room, and the company has to compete with the elements, but the setting provides a whole new dynamic to the performance. "The cemetery is a complete hodgepodge. It could have easily been hideous, but it is beautiful in its ramshackle quality," says Davis. And as a bonus, the jokes are great, too. "This performance has been a grave undertaking," he says with a laugh. "People are just dying to get in." —Jessica FullerFor ticket information, visit www.burningcoal.org.
Un Deux Trois
Local 506—Heather McEntire expresses her charged songwriting with several outfits: Her longest-standing band, Bellafea, tackles things through visceral, clanging rock, though she also performs songs in intimate solo gigs. In the trio Un Deux Trois (now with Megan Culton), she explores the tangled webs of relationships and living in contemplative pieces. Her singing style becomes clear and bright, illuminating the spare instrumentation around it. On "Everything That is Happening is Happening," from the EP Lovers, she sounds not a little like Tsunami's Jenny Toomey, the guitar and shuffling cadence brilliantly mirroring the uncertainty of the song's protagonist. Brooklyn alt-rockers The Dead Betties and electro duo Making Friendz join the bill, and DJ Nasty Boots kicks it off at 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $7. —Chris Toenes
Sex and the City's Evan Handler
A multiplex near you—The long-awaited movie version of Sex and the City, which opens tonight, has generated advance-ticket sales in excess of Indiana Jones, according to some sources. But for actor Evan Handler, it's just one job among many. The prolific writer and actor, whose second book, It's Only Temporary: The Good News and Bad News About Being Alive (Riverhead, $24.95), was recently released, reprises his role as Harry Goldenblatt, mensch-y lawyer and husband to sweet Charlotte (Kristin Davis).
Handler, whose parents Enid and Murry Handler live in the Fearrington Village area of Chatham County, says that he's most recognized for his Sex role. "It was clear, even while the show was going on, that it was a cultural phenomenon," says Handler, in a call from his home in Los Angeles. "And now it's on DVD and even free television—it's everywhere!"
Handler's career has included a near-fatal battle with leukemia (chronicled in his first book, Time on Fire), and roles on numerous high-profile shows, most recently Showtime's Californication with David Duchovny. His new book details his life after being diagnosed as leukemia-free and serves as "an unabashed love letter to my wife." "The women who've contacted me because of it seem to really respond to it, and I think that appeals to a lot of readers," Handler says. —Zack Smith
Sex and the City opens in multiplexes everywhere today.
McIntyre's Fine Books—Durham author Melissa Delbridge's new memoir Family Bible covers her time growing up in the '60s in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Delbridge writes, "Swimming and sex seemed a lot alike to me when I was growing up. You took off most of your clothes to do them and you only did them with people who were the same color as you. As your daddy got richer, you got to do them in fancier places." Family Bible looks at the people in Delbridge's family—her mother, a mercurial driver, met her father, a whiskey-drinking deer hunter, when she emergency-landed a plane in her husband-to-be's cornfield. Delbridge talks about the influence of the women in her life—her mom, grandma, aunts—who she says instilled her with the security to "always feel safe and protected in the world in spite of all that came later." Delbridge reads today at 2 p.m. Read our review of Family Bible. Visit www.fearrington.com/village/mcintyres.asp or call 542-3030 for details. —Megan Stein
Holly Springs Cultural Center—If the Kennedys had Camelot, the Seegers had Big Rock Candy Mountain. Mike Seeger grew up with sister Peggy and half-brother Pete, with the locally born Elizabeth Cotten as a housekeeper. He helped found the New Lost City Ramblers, a key band during the '60s folk revival, and he plays banjo, guitar, autoharp, dulcimer, fiddle and just about any other "folk" instrument you can think of. Oh, and he's really, really good, with six Grammy nominations and a musical vocabulary that drops jaws.
Indeed, besides being an accomplished musician, Seeger knows the history behind his music and will pass it on to you. His old-time music has a rather muddled history, presenting the mix of rural, southeastern music played on the front porch to entertain the neighbors—English ballads, Irish jigs, African-American hymns and French dance tunes. Such Appalachian mountain music forewent bluegrass, with songs being reinterpreted over generations. The sounds and stories of old-time music have been repeated time and again, from Bob Dylan to Uncle Tupelo and The Avett Brothers. That said, go to the show and hear new things in your favorite music. The intimate, solo performance starts at 8 p.m. at the Holly Springs Cultural Center. Tickets are $14-$16. —Andrew Ritchey
Gravy Boys, Kenny Roby's Mercy Filter
The Cave—Both the acoustic ease of Raleigh's The Gravy Boys and the electric rush of Kenny Roby's Mercy Filter look for a little truth in advertising: The Boys plays approachable country music, broken in like a baseball mitt with years of heavy hits and practice. Roby writes as though pulling each song from a diary entry, only refining its words and broadening its appeal with pinpoint twists and exquisite hooks. The Boys plays at 7:30 p.m. Roby brings the band at 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin