The Poe House provides seasonal glimpse of history

09 01 Poe House in Christmas Splendor 1One landmark that offers a glimpse into Fayetteville’s past year-round is the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex’s 1897 Poe House. In December, the house is decked out in holiday decor of yesteryear for the “Poe House in Christmas Splendor.”

In the deed for the home, the house belonged to Josephine Montague Poe, who then married Edgar Allan Poe, not to be mistaken with the famous American author. E.A. Poe was a prominent and affluent businessman in Fayetteville. He owned a brickmaking facility. He also served as a county commissioner in 1904 and on the Board of Aldermen in 1921. The couple had eight children together.

 “What people see when they visit the Poe House is what life was like for an upper class family at the turn of the 20th century,” said Megan Maxwell, the curator for the exhibit. With respect for historical accuracy and through careful recreations, Maxwell said that the home offers a glimpse into the past. 

The seasonal decor isn’t necessarily what would have been found in a home on a day-to-day basis during the holidays, but more of what you might expect to find in a home decorated for a Christmas party.

09 02 Poe House in Christmas Splendor 2 From evergreen garlands to beautiful red bows to trees covered in festive ornaments, the house looks like something out of a Thomas Kinkaide painting. “We use a lot of greenery — a lot of pine, magnolia and holly, “ Maxwell said. “We have two Christmas trees. The tree in the parlor is the formal tree.”

Follow the staircase to the second floor and find the second tree, a scrap tree, so referred to because the ornaments are handmade from scraps, like magazine clippings, for instance.

Aside from the lovely Christmas decorations, visitors can see vintage items for every day living throughout the home, from toys to clothes to kitchen appliances.

“We encourage visitors to take pictures and post them on Instagram or Facebook,” said Maxwell. The parlor, in particular, is a beautiful place to take pictures, but they are welcomed throughout the home. Visitors are also encouraged to tag the museum on social media.

The Christmas decorations will be up through Jan. 5, and the house will be closed for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

The tours of the Poe House run Tuesday through Friday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Saturdays on the hour from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. The tours are free, but the Museum accepts donations. Visitors can also tour the Museum at their leisure, as well as Arsenal Park, from  10 a.m-5 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday or on Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

North Carolina State Ballet ‘Nutcracker’ celebrates 50 years

11 01 CM0A1192It’s been 50 years since the North Carolina State Ballet graced the stage to  perform “The Nutcracker.” Under the direction of Charlotte Blume, the production flourished. Blume died in 2015, but her passion project continues to pull in crowds — both for auditions and at the box office. This year’s public performances are set for Dec. 14 and 15, in addition to the shows performed exclusively for school students.

Dina Lewis has been at the helm since Blume’s death, and she’s worked hard to ensure Blume’s memory lives on and that her contributions to the community and to her students are acknowledged. “About midway through a rehearsal, I asked how many people had studied under Charlotte Blume. It was 10,” Lewis said. “There are 10 of her students remaining that had her — and three are seniors. She is still such a legend in the studio, though. The younger girls are like, ‘You knew her?’ And the older girls will tell them about her. She is definitely still there.”

“She is still a big part of the production — this year more than ever,” Lewis said. “When people walk into the show, they will see pictures of her flanking the doors. When Charlotte was alive, she was an artist in every sense of the word. She would draw the posters and have them printed.  She would draw out the T-shirt designs; they were all hers. …  A few weeks ago, when I was going through a stack of papers, it was labeled “art.” It was all her old T-shirt designs. We brought the tradition back this year as a surprise to the girls using a couple of Ms. Blume’s original designs. We found her signature, and it will be on the back of the shirts this year.”

While Blume was known for her passion for her dancers, she was also known for demanding excellence and commitment from her students.  “She had a way of pulling the excellence out of the children,” said Lewis. “She knew what they were capable of, and she would push them to be their best and do their best. She would say that no one is ever perfect in dance. There is always something to work on.”

While there have been many surprises and lots of hard work in carrying on Blume’s commitment to ‘The Nutcracker,’ Lewis said there have been some moving and 11 02 CM0A1205wonderful surprises, too. In addition to the stack of hand-drawn  original T-shirt artwork, Lewis has come across hand-drawn posters that Blume designed for previous “Nutcracker” productions. And there was also the original paperwork that The Charlotte Blume School of Dance signed with the N.C. State Ballet when Blume’s students first performed the ballet. “I found her original paperwork from the ballet company,” said Lewis. “All these years we have had the numbers wrong. All this time, we didn’t know how long this has been going. When I found it, I called her son to confirm it. I also reached out to the Crown, and we are the longest performing production at the Crown Theatre — it is us!”

This year, the audience can expect some fun changes. “We have done a lot of new things,” Lewis said. “There are new backdrops, and almost the entire first act — except one group — is all brand new costumes. I wanted to put the statement out there how proud were are of the anniversary and producing the show for this many years.”

There are some big changes in the Russian scene in the second act as well. “The Russian tutus were created for us by  Phillip Martin-Nelsen, principal dancer of the all-male pointe group “Les Ballets Trockadero de Monet Carlo” of New York,” Lewis said. “We were very honored when he agreed to create and make them for us. …  He does a lot of their costumes. We FaceTimed him and he had a sketch back to us in just a few minutes.”

This year, Ella Lewis is Sugar Plum, dancing with Adam Chavis. Nick Fokine is ballet royalty — his great-grandparents Michael and Vera Fokine choreographed ‘Giselle.’ He helped at some of our rehearsals. He also performs with Carolina ballet. He helped us a lot. We are excited to put that on stage.”

Lewis mentioned some other fun changes, too. “We just don’t have ballerinas on stage for the Russian stint. There will be some gymnastics on stage, too. I think the audience will love it. And for Snow … we have a Snow King and a Snow Queen. That is also new this year.”

It takes 11 months to produce “The Nutcracker.” The planning starts shortly after the holidays. Rehearsals start in April and, except for two weeks in July, run right up to the performances. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of dedication. It’s exhausting, but so worth it, Lewis said. It brings something special to the community and the performers are passionate about it. “This year we have a cast of 86. … As people came in, we saw the line for auditions was wrapped all the way around the fire station. It is really cool. I thought wow, if Charlotte could have been here to see this.”

North Carolina State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be at the Crown Dec. 14 and 15 with performances at 3 p.m. Tickets cost between $10 and $25. Children 5 and under are free. Visit http://www.crowncomplexnc.com for tickets and information.

Rotary Christmas Parade brings Santa to town

09 SANTALooking for a fun and festive event to go to this holiday season? Look no further than the Rotary Christmas parade. The parade will take place Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Cool Spring Downtown District.

This will be the 20th year for the parade. The event will be filled with dancers, music and so much more. What started out as a simple event founded by the Fayetteville Rotary Club has now become an annual parade that many people enjoy each year.

ShaDonna “Mo” McPhaul is an announcer for the parade and the public relations coordinator for the Liberty Point Rotary Club. She said, “My favorite part about the Rotary Christmas parade is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces, the dance teams and the high school bands.

“The parade is important to the community because it brings us together to enjoy the holiday spirit. This year our theme is ‘Youth Leadership,’ and we are taking the opportunity to highlight our youth and encourage them to lead us into the future.”

In 1999, a member of The Fayetteville Rotary Club learned that there was no established Christmas parade in Fayetteville. So, the Fayetteville rotary Club decided to collaborate with the other two Rotary clubs in Fayetteville to start one and ensure that there would, in fact be a Christmas parade. This was done as a service project for the city of Fayetteville.

 The first Christmas parade had around 50 entries. Now, the parade gets around 110-120 units. Rotary is the sole sponsor of the event. Some companies that have worked with The Fayetteville Rotary Club in the past on the parade are Chick-fil-A and Taco Bell.

Planning the parade is a yearlong event. The first thing that happens occurs the day of the previous parade. On parade day, the floats for the following year are ordered.

Matthew Smith is a chairman on the parade committee and one of the members of The Fayetteville Rotary Club that helped start the parade. The preparation of the parade, he said, “In May, we start meeting and deciding on what we are going to do for the coming year. We meet on and off at least once a month.

“In the May to July period, the grand marshal is confirmed. In September to October, the list of elementary schools their principals and contact information are verified so that proper contact can be made for the child to represent their school in the parade. November to December, contact is made with Parks and Recreation, the Cumberland County manager for use of the main and auxiliary parking lots, city manager for use of the parking lot behind City Hall and NCDOT for the blocking of a portion of Russell Street, and a vendor for the porta potties.”

The route of the parade begins at the main parking lot behind the Court house and ends at the auxiliary lot across from Person Street. Visit https://www.rotarychristmasparade.com/ for more information about the parade.

Christmas entertainment brings good cheer

10 Christmas light show‘Tis the season to be jolly, and there is an abundance of local merry festivities to usher in the holidays. From viewing spectacular light displays to laughing at comedic Christmas performances, the variety of entertainment provides something for everyone. Here are some gems you won’t want to miss.

Purchase a delicious treat and catch “Santaland Diaries,” put on by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, at The Sweet Palette, located at 101 Person St. Watch as Santa’s helper, Crumpet, gets caught up in the craziness of the holiday buzz at Macy’s and deals with all of the shoppers and their children that come through the doors. The CFRT: After Dark production promises to bring on the laughs with “whacked out, wicked wit.” The show is for ages 18 and up, so leave the kids at home lest you end up on the naughty list. The show will run through Dec. 21. General admission tickets are $20 and for season ticket holders, the tickets are $15. Call 910-323-4233 or visit http://www.cfrt.org/project/the-santaland-diaries/ to buy tickets.

Enjoy an evening stroll at Arnette Park’s “Christmas in the Park,” a beautiful attraction of light displays. With thousands of beautiful lights decorating the park, the Christmas Express train, a fire pit to roast marshmallows at and the opportunity to enjoy your favorite, classic Christmas movies on the outdoor screen with a cup of hot cocoa, this event is a favorite among locals. You can even visit jolly St. Nick and get a picture for $5. “Christmas in the Park” is open from 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 22. Admission is $10 per family vehicle, $30 per commercial vehicle and $75 per motor coach or bus. For more information, call 910-443-1547. For inclement weather, call 910-306-7325.

“An 82nd Airborne Jingle: All the Way!” is right around the corner at the Crown Theatre. Featuring the 82nd Airborne Division Concert Band, the All American Chorus and Riser Burn, the 82nd Airborne Division’s rock band, the event’s holiday program is free. A military family night will be held Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. The public concert will be held Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit http://www.crowncomplexnc.com/events/detail/an-82nd-airborne-jingle-all-the-way to learn more.

Experience the magic of Christmas at Lu Mil Vineyard at the drive-through Festival of Lights. Some of the features of the attraction include free pictures with St. Nick, a gift shop, a free wine tasting and their Christmas Village. A country buffet is also available for $12 from 5-9 p.m. You can view the brilliant lights through Dec. 23 from 6-10 p.m. The event costs $10 per person, and ages 5 and under are free. For more information, visit http://lumilvineyard.com/festival-of-lights.html or call 910-866-5819.

Cumberland Choral Arts to perform Handel’s ‘Messiah’

08 david beale rU4kvQKjG2o unsplashCumberland Choral Arts — the name is new, but the organization is familiar. For 28 years the community has known them as Cumberland Oratorio Singers. December marks the end of a massive rebranding effort inspired by a subtle shift as the choir members realized they were performing a wide range of music and not just the traditional oratorios. Cumberland Choral Arts debuts its 2019 rendition of Handel’s “Messiah Singalong” Dec. 14 at First Presbyterian Church. Accompanied by the Campbellton Youth Choir, the free performance is open to the public. Because this is a singalong, the guests are invited to join the choir.

Messiah was composed by George Friderick Handel in 1741 over the course of just a few weeks and debuted in Dublin, Ireland, in 1742. The initial public reception was modest, but 277 years later it’s one of the most frequently performed and best-known choral works. The original performance included the entire life of the Messiah, from the birth of Jesus to the passion of the Christ. It’s been modified and shortened for Christmas performances, and for this performance, the choir will also perform traditional Christmas carols, merging secular songs with the sacred.

CCA was founded in 1991 by Allen Porter of Methodist University. Nearly three decades later, the nonprofit is thriving under the leadership of Jason Britt.

The group’s website notes, “Inspired by the joy of singing and hearing choral music, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers strive to be a premier symphonic chorus through the outstanding performance of choral masterworks. With a commitment to excellence and education for over 25 years, we work collaboratively with all singers to foster a vibrant, diverse, and interactive choral community, educate our singers and audiences, and extend our reach to the youth of Cumberland County and the Sandhills region.”

Handel’s Messiah, performed by Cumberland Choral Arts and special guests —the Campbellton Youth Choir, takes place Dec. 14, from 5-7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church at 102 Ann Street in Fayetteville.
Season ticket holders will have reserved seats.

For more information visit www.cumberlandchoralarts.org or call 910-215-7046

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