Nate Bargatze 

Jimmy Fallon favorite Nate Bargatze got his own Netflix comedy special, The Tennessee Kid, in March, and the way he nails his punchline in the trailer (“Olivia?”) is characteristic of his polished, approachable style. Bargatze self-deprecates with a soft Southern twang, and his persona draws from reservoirs of modesty and charm instead of neurosis or creepiness. Sep. 20, The Carolina Theatre

The Roommate 

Jen Silverman’s 2015 dramedy is a little bit The Odd Couple and a little bit Breaking Bad, according to the Los Angeles Times, which praised the “emerging talent to be reckoned with” for her “unsentimental insight.” In middle age, an empty-nested Iowa homemaker gets a vegan New York slam poet for a roommate, propelling a radical reinvention. Sep. 26–Oct. 13, The Fruit

Damon Wayans Jr. 

The son of stand-up comedian Damon Wayons is best-known for his roles in sitcoms about the complicated lives of quippy young urban adults: in Happy Endings, he’s Brad, a married yuppie; in New Girl, he’s Coach, an anxious personal trainer. Outside of these roles he can be found bopping around on episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bob’s Burgers, among many others. Sep. 27–29, Raleigh Improv

Martha Graham Dance Company: CURRENT Takeover

The late, great Martha Graham is synonymous with the early, running-in-a-circle-on-some-grass days of modern dance, but her company is still pushing the form into the future. This performance installation preserves and innovates upon Graham’s legacy in one stroke: During a Google residency, Tyler Henry figured out how to use a Kinect camera to overlay projections of historical Graham dancers on a live one performing the classic Lamentation. Sounds wow. Sep. 27–29, CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio

Blood at the Root 

In 2006, six African-American teens in Jena, Louisiana were convicted of beating a white student at their high school. The fact of the assault is not in question, but it leaves out that the students were responding to ongoing racist harassment and initially faced a trumped-up charge of attempted murder. Dominique Morisseau’s charged drama explores the context and the failure of the criminal justice system around the “Jena Six.” Sep. 27–Oct. 13, Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre


If you’re still reeling from Will Smith’s thirsty genie and other changes in the live-action remake of Disney’s animated foray into The Thousand and One Nights, be warned—the Broadway version nixes Apu, Rajah, and Iago, because animals can’t sing. But come on, it’s from the producer of The Lion King and the director/choreographer of The Book of Mormon. Resistance is futile. Oct. 2–26, Durham Performing Arts Center

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Rosas: Rosas danst Rosas

Playing nicely off the Lucinda Childs booking elsewhere in CPA’s season, this signature postmodern piece is a wonder of taut repetition, marked by the same deep rapport with severely evolving patterns that also drew Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to make her choreographic mark on Steve Reich’s music. Oct. 9 & 10, UNC’s Memorial Hall

The Container

In a timely revival of Clare Bayley’s 2007 play, five refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, and Kurdish Turkistan hide in a forty-foot shipping container as they try to enter the UK. Audiences will join the nightmarish ride, twenty at a time, inside a real container in the courtyard of CAM Raleigh. Oct. 10–27, Murphey School Auditorium


Two years after he tried his spooky hand at The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and just in time for Halloween, Carolina Ballet artistic director Zalman Raffael premieres a new work about that grand old ballet archetype, the lumbering monster made of cadavers. This should be a blast.   Oct. 10–27, Fletcher Opera Theater

The Day 

What do you get when you combine an iconic postmodern choreographer, a Pulitzer-winning composer, a longtime New York City Ballet principal dancer, and a powerhouse cellist? This isn’t the setup for a joke—the answer is THE DAY, an evening-length dance-and-music work by Lucinda Childs, David Lang, Wendy Whelan, and Maya Beiser. Oct. 15, UNC’s Memorial Hall

West Side Story 

Since 1957, Tony and Maria have been star-crossed lovers pirouetting their heartsick ballads through the streets of New York. In this slick North Carolina Theatre production, Eric Woodall directs and Jeremy Dumont choreographs. Oct. 15–20, Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown 

If you’re finding yourself in a mid-fall slump, this Raleigh Little Theatre production of the musical based on Charles M. Schulz’s beloved comic strip may be your family-friendly pick-me-up. The Peanuts crew is caught in amber: Lucy is still heartsick for focused piano savant Schroeder, Sally is still a bit of a jerk, and Charlie Brown is still, well, Charlie Brown.  Oct. 25–Nov. 3, Cantey V. Sutton Theatre

Be More Chill 

Like the high school nerd-love story at its technology-besotted center, this thoroughly millennial musical by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz came into this world awkwardly, bombing in its 2015 premiere run in New Jersey before its hyperactive electro-pop soundtrack went viral and catapulted it to Broadway. Oct. 25–Nov. 10, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre,

A Bronx Tale

The actor Chazz Palminteri can’t stop telling his story, which began as a one-man show in 1989 before becoming a movie (with Robert De Niro) in 1993 and then returning to the stage as this 2016 Broadway musical. It’s a durable, archetypal Italian-American coming-of-age story, richly textured with mid-century Bronx and full of heart. Nov. 5–10, DPAC

Lewis Black 

Fire and brimstone is the bread and butter of the comedian Lewis Black who, should you need more proof of his distinct brand of comedy-ire, was perfectly cast as the emotion “anger” in the Pixar film Inside Out. These are days of outrage, though, and his DPAC performance is a red-letter occasion. Nov. 15, DPAC

Alonzo King LINES Ballet 

Last seen at Duke Performances in 2010 with jazz band Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, Alonzo King’s original, adventurous ballet company teems with the energy of its longtime home, the San Francisco Bay, with a musical scope encompassing Kronos Quartet commissions and classic Handel. Nov. 15 & 16, Reynolds Industries Theater

Loch na hEala 

Because why should Black Swan have all the dark, deconstructed fun with a fine-feathered ballet classic? Irish dance-theater artist Michael Keegan-Dolan shatters Swan Lake into dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish stage pictures, set to Nordic and Irish folk music and pulsing with “bleak, funny, and astoundingly poetic beauty,” according to The Guardian’s five-star review. Nov. 20 & 21, UNC’s Memorial Hall


We try to be judicious with the word “epic,” but the musical Ragtime is just that: a sweeping diorama of urban life in New York City that takes place around the turn of the century. Take your history buffs and musical theater nerds and watch the Gilded Age pass into the Progressive Era in this PlayMakers production. Nov. 20–Dec. 15, Paul Green Theatre

Torry Bend & Howard L. Craft: Dreaming 

Certain combinations of artists and material make you gasp with delight just upon hearing about them. Here’s one: At Duke Performances, puppet artist Torry Bend and playwright Howard L. Craft, two local artists with national reach, probe both the wonder and the stereotypes found in the comics of Winsor McCay, of Little Nemo in Slumberland fame. Nov. 22–24, The Rubenstein Arts Center

David Sedaris 

Humorist and Raleigh native David Sedaris makes fine jewels out of the flotsam and jetsom that the rest of us just call bad vacations or part-time jobs from hell. And while it’s doubtful that even David Sedaris has ever actually had a certifiable David Sedaris experience, his gift for storytelling is buoyed by earnestness and truth, and his stories—bumbling attempts to learn French, or playing Santa at the mall—don’t feel contrived. Dec. 1, Raleigh Memorial Auditorium


Leno and Ferguson require little explanation, while Eric Andre requires a lot of explanation—his surrealist take on the late-night talk show is one of the more disturbing televisual products of recent years. Comedian Jen Kirkman is a Chelsea Lately regular and writer—and yes, Harry Connick Jr. did have a short-lived talk show, Google says so!

1. Jay Leno — Sep. 20, DPAC

2. Eric Andre — Oct. 2, The Carolina Theatre

3. Craig Ferguson — Oct. 7, The Carolina Theatre

4. Jen Kirkman— Dec. 7, Motorco Music Hall

5. Harry Connick Jr. — Sep. 21 & 22, DPAC

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