Soak Up the Arts in April!

April 2, 2018

April is the month to visit the greater Fayetteville area. For starters, the natural beauty of the Sandhills’ region is on full display here. Then there's our blooming arts scene, specifically the performing arts. This month we’ll be enjoying the sounds of jazz in the park, relishing a Jane Austen classic on stage, celebrating National Poetry Month at a festival and watching dance teams show off their skills at a gala. And that’s just a sampling of what’s in store for our visitors this month. I'm sharing ten ideas for how to “Soak Up the Arts in April” all over Cumberland County.

Theater

Antigone - April 6-22

I simply can’t discuss the performing arts without bragging on Fayetteville’s dynamic theater scene. Gilbert Theater, located in the heart of Downtown Fayetteville, has been producing both classic and contemporary works since 1994. For one of their last productions of the season, Gilbert’s troupe is ambitiously tackling Sophocles’ Antigone, “one of the greatest works of theater in the history of mankind.” I suggest planning a whole night around this experience. Start by dining out at one of Downtown Fayetteville’s charming restaurants. Then walk over to Gilbert Theater for what’s sure to be a stellar show.

Sense and Sensibility - April 12-29

Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s history here goes all the way back to 1962. Today this theater can boast a three-story complex in Fayetteville’s Historic Haymount District. During their six-show main-stage season, they regularly sell out tickets, and I’m betting their April production of the popular Sense and Sensibility will prove to be one of those big hits. Based on the novel by Jane Austen and adapted by Kate Hamill, this classic tale of the Dashwood sisters makes for the perfect excuse to gather up girlfriends for a ladies’ night out.

Jane Eyre - April 26 - May 6

Sweet Tea Shakespeare (STS) is yet another fantastic theater troupe who performs Shakespearean works and other classics, rotating between different Fayetteville venues. My favorite venue of all happens to be the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex’s 1897 Poe House, where attendees gather around the outdoor stage in the home’s beautifully landscaped backyard. You’ll have plenty of chances to catch an April or May performance there of Jane Eyre—based on Charlotte Bronte’s beloved novel and adapted by Jessica Osnoe. Bring your appetite for Blackstone Smokehouse’s classic barbecue offerings—plus wine, regional craft brews and (of course) sweet tea. Just be sure to get there in time for the hilarious pre-show. I rate STS as one of the sweetest discoveries I’ve made in Fay.

Bonus: Fayetteville State University (FSU) is continuing their Sesquicentennial Celebration with the The Founders' Play: 150 Steps to Equality (April 19-21)—giving folks a look at the great men who founded FSU, left their legacies behind and impacted the lives of generations to follow.

arts eventsSweet Tea Shakespeare (PC: STS)

Music

Jazz Fest - April 6

Jazz bands and a cappella groups from eight universities/colleges around North Carolina will be performing live in Festival Park. This annual fest, organized by the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, is a true showcase of the talented young musicians who are keeping the jazz tradition alive in NC. One ticket gets festival-goers admission AND beer or wine. Plus, it wouldn’t be a festival without some fantastic food trucks. Some of our locals’ favorites, such as R Burger and Babann’s Southern Fried Chicken, will be keeping the crowds fed well. Grab your lawn chairs, kick back and get ready to soak up all the sounds of spring!

All American Wine & Music Festival - April 14

Yet another annual music festival that takes place in Cumberland County is one that celebrates good wine and tunes. Paradise Acres, in the Town of Hope Mills, is hosting this year’s fest, which will be raising awareness for those who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. At this family-friendly country venue, Bread, Wine & Blooze and DJ Wyatt will be providing all the entertainment while you enjoy dancing and sipping on vino.

Appalachian Spring Concert - April 21

Did you know Fayetteville has bragging rights to its own symphony? For 60+ years, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra (FSO) has been delighting audiences here. Fayetteville State University has the pleasure of hosting FSO’s last concert of the season in its J.W. Seabrook Auditorium. FSO will be taking its audience on an auditory hike through the Blue Ridge Mountains as they perform Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Sibelius’ Finlandia—a true celebration of springtime in North Carolina.

We Sing to Experience Concert - April 27

Another point of pride for Fayetteville is the Cumberland Oratorio Singers (COS), an exceptional symphonic chorus that has been performing choral masterworks for 26 seasons now. Their last concert of this season will be featuring musical masters—those works COS considers to be essential to the joyful choral experience. Join COS in Haymount United Methodist Church’s lovely sanctuary to enjoy just that experience.

Bonus: Both Fayetteville State University's (FSU) calendar and Methodist University's (MU) calendar are packed full of performing arts events, i.e., FSU’s Jazz Day (April 7) and MU’s Cape Fear New Music Festival (April 12).

arts eventsJazz Fest (PC: FSO)

Poetry

The Marquis Slam - April 7

Poets make Fayetteville’s arts scene even more vibrant. One of our longstanding poetry slams, The Marquis Slam, takes place at the Arts Council every first Saturday. As I’ve shared on the blog before, this event brings serious talent from around the country to perform in the heart of downtown. April’s featured spoken-word artist, Asia Samson, is a perfect example, as he’s performed on HBO’s Def Poetry and BET J’s Lyric Café. Not only is the audience treated to talents like this, but they also get to watch (and maybe even judge) other poets going head-to-head in the slam. Consider this to be a date or ladies’ night out waiting to happen.

Southeastern Regional North Carolina (SERNC) Poetry Festival - April 25-28

This four-day fest takes place every year in April—National Poetry Month—at different venues around the city. Attendees look forward to immersing themselves in Fayetteville’s dynamic arts culture with open-mic events, poetry slams and writing workshops. The Youth Slam is super popular with teens, while the Erotic Open Mic takes poetry to the next level for the mature crowd. Personally, I plan to be front and center in the audience at the Nerd Slam. That fun event is being hosted by The Sweet Palette, a delightful bakery and arts venue in Downtown Fayetteville. I mean, poetry and cupcakes couldn’t be a more perfect marriage!

Bonus: There are a host of other monthly and even weekly events featuring live poetry readings and spoken-word experiences around Fayetteville; Java Expressions, VerseUs and Art Meets Life are three of our more popular ones that are well worth checking out.

arts events

The Marquis Slam (PC: @TheMarquisSlam)

Dance

10th Annual Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars - April 21

For a decade now, the NC Center for Economic Empowerment & Development (NC CEED) has been hosting one of the most extravagant galas in Cumberland County. Featuring a line-up of experienced and amateur dancers, Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars (DWTFS) is a live version of the beloved TV show. For “A Night in Emerald City,” McCormick Farms and B&B Inc. will be playing host at their brand-new events venue, The Barn, located in the countryside of Spring Lake. The renowned Chef Bill Pannhoff and his B&B team will be serving attendees a lavish, multi-course meal, and of course, all the night’s entertainment will be provided by 15+ teams of dancers putting on one spectacular show. This year will mark ten years of dedicated community investment, reaching one million dollars toward CEED's poverty prevention programs.

Bonus: Fort Bragg's Cleland Ice Rink is hosting Spring Is in the Air Ice Show (April 14), featuring Cleland's Ice Skating Team performing in groups, pairs and solo; the public is invited to watch the on-ice performances, then join the stars afterward for open ice skating.

arts events

Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars (PC: NC CEED)

There are 17 gardens and arts venues, such as Gilbert Theater, listed on the Patri-Arts & Gardens Trail. The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) compiled this trail to aid visitors in immersing themselves in Cumberland County's thriving arts scene. The FACVB also provides folks with a handy, year-round Calendar of Events that features not just performing arts, but a wide range of things to do, like festivals, for the whole family. Lastly, in addition to the All American Wine & Music Festival, there are several other reasons to make Hope Mills a destination this spring; read more about those ideas on “Savoring Springtime in Hope Mills.” 

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