DPAC brings new life to downtown

By Rosalia Preiss

Teen Arts Co-Editor
the Durham Voice

Since its opening in November 2008, the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has been a big topic of conversation. Drawing in people from surrounding cities and states, DPAC has be both revered and criticized. But no matter how you look at it, DPAC has definitely brought significant change to downtown.

DPAC was a huge investment by the city. With a nearly 50 million-dollar investment in the building, much was riding on its success. Fortunately, DPAC did not disappoint.

With a starting season featuring hit shows like “RENT”  and “Legally Blonde” and various famous musicians and comedians, DPAC began pulling interest from everyone from young families to retirees to college students.

Duke University made a special bond with the theater from the start. The university contributed $7.5 million to the funding for the building, and students were some of the first to be regulars at the shows.

However, college students were not the only ones to catch on to what DPAC had to offer. DPS students also benefited from the big location. “Evening DPAC opened, DPS was offered a slot to perform. Recently finishing its third year at the DPAC, Evening of Entertainment brings in funds for both public schools and for the “Durham Renaissance”

Also, several DPS students work at DPAC as greeters and candy sellers in order to make money and experience some of the great shows.

The shows have not only brought in money to the Durham Performing Arts Center, but to surrounding local businesses. Local eateries and boutiques in areas like West Village and Brightleaf Square saw a pick up in business during show weeks from out of town visitors looking to experience things unique to Durham.

Despite all the great side effects that were brought by DPAC, its main focus and main source of income are its Broadway shows. Since its opening, it has shown many big hits, such as “Wicked,” ” Phantom of the Opera,”  “Hairspray,”  “Mamma Mia,”  and “Beauty and the Beast.”

The 2010-2011 season, which is nearing its end, recently finished a week of the Tony Award winner for Best Musical, “In The Heights,” and will close out the season with hippie favorite “HAIR” and the medieval comedy “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

If you have yet to visit the location, it’s quite a sight. The outside of the three-story building is made up of series of angular windows, which are illuminated from the inside. The stairways and floors are carpeted with thick red to match the classic theater seats. Its aesthetic beauty really stands out in downtown.

If you missed some of the shows you wanted to see in years past, have no fear. DPAC’s upcoming season has something for everyone, including old Broadway favorites such as “Chicago” and “West Side Story,”  contemporary pop musicals like “Rock of Ages” and “Bring It On,” and things never before seen in the Triangle like the Radio City Rockette’s “Christmas Spectacular.”

No matter how much has already been done, the revitalization of downtown that was brought about by DPAC certainly won’t stop any time soon.