SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Li’l Friday is a weekly roundup of events in art, music, theater, comedy, pop-up markets and more.
It’s wise to check in ahead of attending any one happening to ensure it’s scheduled as normal. Inclement weather and unforeseen circumstances may shift for organizers at the last minute.
Thursday, Nov. 16
Cucalorus Film Festival
Various locations • Tickets and passes here
The 29th annual Cucalorus Film Festival is now underway.
The festival touts more than 90 films screening at Thalian Hall, Jengo’s Playhouse and other venues in downtown Wilmington. There are also plenty of parties, art installations, and theatrical performances to boot.
Dance-a-lorus — a tradition of the film festival — kicks off Thursday. The live performance pairs choreographers and dancers with filmmakers for an experimental showcase. A dozen performances are slated for the event, to take place at Thalian Hall main stage; tickets are $30. As well, the 10 x 10 challenge will happen for free Thursday night at Bowstring Brewyard in the Soda Pop District. It pairs filmmakers and musicians to create music videos in a short time span to then screen as part of the festival.
One of the film’s to be screened this weekend is “Last Straw,” created by former local Wilmingtonians. It’s a horror film following a young lady who is coming of age and dealing with her mother’s death, while struggling to find a voice and be taken seriously as manager of a diner. After a slate of events that turns her kitchen crew against her, Nancy faces terror by a group of masked boys riling up townsfolk. The home-invasion-style thriller delves into its characters’ knee-jerk reactions and consequences of their choices. But between the infliction of stabs and jabs, it also makes a case for compassion. Read the full interview with filmmakers from PCD here.
First-time director Mar Novo will showcase her new feature “Sisters,” about three Mexican-American siblings who go on a sojourn through rural Mexico, while “Riddle of Fire” is an adventure film for the whole family. It screens Friday Nov 17, at 7:45 p.m. at Thalian’s main stage and again on Sunday, Nov 19, at 4:30 p.m. at Thalian’s Ruth and Bucky Stein Theater.
Another favorite — from Sundance, nonetheless — will screen with “King Coal,” tracking the Central Appalachian family culture and generations that worked in the coal industry. It will show Friday Nov 17, 10:30 a.m. at Thalian Hall’s Ruth and Bucky Stein Theater and again on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4:15 p.m. on Thalian Hall’s main stage.
A SXSW 2023 standout, Kit Zuaha wrote, directed and starred in “This Closeness,” slated for a Saturday Nov 18, 1:15 p.m. screening. It captures sexual angst building between a young couple and their “awkward rental host,” as they visit Philadelphia for a high school reunion.
“Playland: A Queer Fantasia” — which premiered at Rotterdam and Tribeca — also will be screened. The documentary is from Georden West, and “resurrects ghosts of Boston’s oldest and most notorious gay hangout,” utilizing archival footage and vignettes. It shows Thursday, Nov 16, at 1:45 p.m and again Saturday Nov 18, 4:30 p.m.
The full schedule can be found here, including curated blocks from shorts to features.
OTHER THURSDAY HAPPENINGS
Painter and the Poet Songwriter Showcase — A showcase of up-and-coming creatives, crossing a bevy of artistic output from music to poetry to comedy, is planned for 7 p.m. at 1202 Chestnut St. in the Soda Pop District. The two-hour performance will feature artists Majesstiq, Nate Gerry, Tate, Joe Copple, Louis Tee and Izzy. There is a $10 suggested donation and the show is alcohol-free.
“John Proctor is the Villain” — Written in 2018 by Kimberly Belflower, “John Proctor is the Villain” will be performed at the Wilson Center Studio Theatre for one more weekend, Nov. 16 to 18 at 7 p.m. The play is set in a rural Georgia high school and explores maneuvering young love and scandals, as teens explore the theatrical classic, Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” The comedy, put on by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Cape Fear Community College, exhibits a generation in mid-transformation that begins to question who are the heroes and what the truth really is. Tickets are $15, available here.
Friday, Nov. 17
Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. 3rd St • Tickets: $20
Hailing from Queens, New York, Ian Lara rose to fame after recording a “Comedy Central Stand Up Featuring,” which has accumulated more than 10 million views.
Lara has also been seen on the first season of “NBC’s Bring the Funny,” “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” and Comedy Central’s “This Week at the Comedy Cellar.” His sophomore set at the Comedy Cellar was his second time reaching the 10-million-views mark.
Lara’s comedy touches on growing up with immigrant parents, questioning his race and even how Tupac inspired his Mother’s Day card.
“In Tupac’s song ‘Dear Mama,’ he says: ‘Even as a crack fiend, mama, you always were a black queen, mama,’” Lara revealed. “And I don’t think my mom’s ever tried crack, but that didn’t stop me from writing those lyrics on her Mother’s Day card.”
Lara will perform four shows at the Dead Crow Comedy Room on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. nightly.
OTHER FRIDAY HAPPENINGS
Marshal Brown Bluegrass Band — This five-man bluegrass group will take the stage at Bourgie Nights Friday evening alongside The Brewer Brothers. Consisting of Marshal Brown on lead vocals and guitar, John Duncan on banjo, Jacob Brewer on bass, Graham Brewer on mandolin, and Bridger Dunnegan on fiddle, Marshall Brown Bluegrass Band shares a love for traditional bluegrass. Their influences span from Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers to the Kentucky Colonels and Red Allen. They will perform traditional covers as well as originals off their debut album. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15, available here.
Righteous Roots — Formed in Virginia in 2021 by guitarist and vocalist Tom Leighton, Righteous Roots started as a solo acoustic show but has evolved into a full band. The group played more than 200 shows along the East Coast, showcasing soulful vocals and melodic instrumentation. Righteous Roots fuses elements of rock and reggae to create very unique sounds. The band plans to take the stage at Greenfield Lake Yacht Club Friday evening from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The show is free.
“Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — OK, so it may be too soon for the holidays, depending on who you ask, but Thalian Association Community Theater is bringing the youth actors onstage to put on the “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” from Nov. 17 through Nov. 26; shows are at 7:30 p.m. except on Sundays at 3 p.m. The production takes place at the Second Street Stage Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center. The play is based on the 1970s children novel by Barbara Robinson, which also became an ‘80s movie. It follows the Herdman children, a rag-tag group of kids ostracized from the townsfolk for their bullish behaviors. When Imogene Herdman and her brothers show up to the town church to audition for characters in the annual Christmas Story play, it takes the community by surprise. What ensues after they are cast in the show is mayhem — and fun — while pulling at the heartstrings. Tickets are $15.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving — The Peanuts Gang brings to light the importance of gratitude and friendship in this classic, to show ahead of the feasting holiday (Thursday, Nov. 23). It’s free and the film will screen at 7 p.m. on the lawn at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, weather permitting; otherwise, audiences will be ushered inside. There will be free popcorn as well.
Traudi Thornton Pottery Sale and Show — Art in Bloom Gallery is hosting an exhibit to honor the late Traudi Thornton, a master ceramic artist who passed away in April. The opening is Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with live music by solo jazz guitarist, Roger Davis. Throughout the weekend, the gallery will present a studio ceramics and pottery sale, as well as a small exhibit of work by the late artist. Art will be available for purchase during regular business hours, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18
Wilson Center, 703 N. 3rd St.
Tickets start at $40
Based on one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic comedies, two-time Tony Award-winning director Jerry Mitchel brings a rags-to-riches story to life, told to a 20-song soundtrack.
“Pretty Woman” was a hit ‘90s film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gear. It follows the story of a prostitute and wealthy businessman crossing paths in what is at first just a date transaction. But the two end up falling in love and quickly realize there will be bridges to cross in order to close the gap between their two very different worlds.
The show first debuted in Chicago in 2018 before heading to Broadway and then embarking on a national tour in 2021. The show won multiple awards from the Broadway.com Audience Awards in 2019.
Its original score was created by Grammy Award-winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallence.
There will be three performances this weekend at the Wilson Center: Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m., and Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Limited tickets are still available from $40-$125, available here.
OTHER SATURDAY HAPPENINGS
Riverfront Farmers Market — It’s the final gathering of farmers, arts and crafts vendors in downtown Wilmington on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Riverfront Farmers Market will be set up on Dock Street, between Second and Water streets. There is free admission but locally made products require purchase.
Tidewater Camellia Club Fall Show and Sale — The annual Camellia show and sale is taking place at New Hanover County Arboretum this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees can view blooms, talk with experts, take a guided tour and more. The white and pinkish Camellias, which will be showcased, are primarily grown for their decorative value in North Carolina. Camellias will be for sale while supplies last. The event is free to attend.
800 Trees Giveaway — The alliance for Cape Fear Trees, in partnership with Arbor Day Foundations Community Tree Recovery program and Truist financial, will give away 800 trees of varying types from 9 a.m. until noon (or while supplies last) at Legion Stadium. The 3-gallon trees are free to Cape Fear area residents, with the intention to replenish the area’s overall tree canopy. There is a limit of two trees per adult. The event will take place rain or shine.
Oyster Roast with the Phantom Playboys — Salty Turtle, Surf City’s premier brewery, is hosting its annual oyster roast at 5:30 p.m. For $20, diners will get all the oysters they can eat and newest brews on tap available for purchase from Salty Turtle. At 7 p.m. Wilmington’s favorite punk-rockabilly-ska band, The Phantom Playboys, will take the stage. The brewery is located at 112 Hinton Ave.
Cape Fear Swing Dance Society — Looking to brush up on your swing dancing moves? The Cape Fear Swing Dance Society’s monthly dance will take place at WHQR studios in downtown Wilmington (254 N. Front St.). It’s $10 and comes with a beginner lesson at 6:30 p.m., followed by social dancing from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. No partner is needed to join in on the fun.
Kure Beach Holiday Market — Christmas is a month away, which means the gift-buying season is in full swing. Kure Beach is hosting two holiday markets this season for folks looking for one-of-a-kind, locally made items to gift loved ones. The first takes place Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the second on Nov. 25, at the Kure Beach Recreation Department (105 Atlantic Ave.). There will be more than 50 artisans and crafters on site, as well as food vendors. The market also acts as a toy drive for the U.S. Marines annual Toys for Tots charity. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate for entry or it’s a $5 admission, also donated to the organization. A raffle will take place to win a basket of items donated by vendors.
Sunday, Nov. 19
Live at Ted’s, 2 Castle St. • Tickets: $30
Born in Tampa, Florida, and now residing in North Carolina, Christie Lenee has won a number of awards for her impressive guitar playing. Lenee was awarded first place at the International Fingerstyle Guitar championship in 2017 and in 2019 was voted Acoustic Guitarist of the Year by England’s MusicRadar.
She will come to Live at Ted’s for a Sunday afternoon performance at 4 p.m. Lenee has released six albums over the past 10 years, with her most recent, “Coming Alive,” devised during the Covid-19 pandemic. She stowed away in a cabin in Lake Lure, North Carolina, during its creation.
“I found that the only place I could travel was inside the journey of music,” she says in the album’s? liner notes.
She originally conceived it as an acoustic release, but with her musician friends not touring, she decided to include them in the studio sessions. Matthew Odmark (Jars of Clay) co-produced the work, with a band featuring drummer Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Toto, Sting, John Mayer), Grammy Award-winning bassist Adam Nitti (Kenny Loggins, Carrie Underwood, Susan Tedeschi), and Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay) on keyboards/organ.
Lenee will perform from the release Sunday.
OTHER SUNDAY HAPPENINGS
Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra — Kenan Auditorium will host the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra, Rockestra, and junior strings ensembles Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Founded in 2001, the WSYO provides talented young musicians with unique orchestral training and performing opportunities. Linda Estep is the director of the youth orchestra and Lisa Gattusa is the director of the Rockestra and junior strings. Tickets for the event are $6, available here.
Stonewall Karaoke — A local sports organization, Stonewall Wilmington, is welcoming the LGBTQ+ community and allies to a karaoke party and social. There will be pizza, games and lots of singing to help support the organization (it’s free to attend, though donations are welcome and can be made here). Stonewall offers leagues for LGBTQ+ players in kickball, tennis and volleyball, in an effort to make sure people of all backgrounds and abilities can enjoy playing. Proceeds from donations support its mission to provide low-cost sports for the Wilmington LGBTQ+ community. The event takes place at Mad Katz (5216 Carolina Beach Road) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Festival of Trees — The region’s longest running holiday event celebrating tree decorating opened Nov. 17 and continues through Jan. 1 at Fort Fisher Aquarium (900 Loggerhead Road) in Kure Beach. Businesses and organizations sponsor more than 50 trees that are decorated in various themes; some honor loved ones who have passed, others embrace the spirit of the holiday. Hand-made wreaths are also for sale, with all proceeds from sponsorships and wreaths going to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, which helps patients with palliative care or their end-of-life journey. The display is included in the aquarium’s price of admission (reservations must be secured here).
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