The Durham Performing Arts Center is one of the busiest venues in the world, bringing top-notch Broadway shows, concerts and more to the Triangle area. Since its opening in 2008, the downtown Durham scene has totally transformed due to its presence. So if you’re going to one of the many shows at DPAC, I’ve pulled together some tips and tricks to get the most out of the show. Having been a previous Broadway season-ticket holder and fan I’ve probably seen over 25 shows at the DPAC over the years. Here’s some ideas on how to get the most of your DPAC visit.
DPAC Pre-Show Tips and Tricks
- Ordering tickets – You’ve got several options here to get your tickets and while Ticketmaster may be the easiest, it’s also the most expensive. Some other options include over the phone which will still incur a phone service fee, but the box office will be the best option to save money. Standard box office hours are 10am to 5pm (Mon to Fri) and 10am to 2pm (Sat) but it’s also open three hours before show time. And given DPAC’s heavy performance schedule, that means it’s open A LOT.
- Ticket Management – If you order your tickets online, you can certainly do e-delivery to save on mailing fees but sometimes for special shows, I just prefer an old-fashioned ticket that can go in a scrap book. So ordering tickets and doing Will Call where your tickets can be picked up at the box office is my preference. Note that if you are meeting someone at the show, you can put multiple names on your tickets so that a date or friend can pick up their ticket separately. Also if you have a problem with a conflict for your show, DPAC will do ticket exchanges for a new date/time but it will probably incur a service fee and any price differentials.
- Parking – While you can certainly pay for a lot or parking structure, I prefer street parking. Oftentimes you’ll have to pay a bit for a meter and then parking will be free after 6pm. Most Durham parking meters take coins and cards, you’ll need your license plate number to use these meters. I’ve had luck on Pettigrew and Ramseur Street if you get there a bit early for your show. And if you’re early, don’t miss my post on the best restaurants and food around DPAC!
DPAC Show Tips and Recommendations
- Beer, Wine and Cocktails – DPAC is well equipped for snacks and drinks but I’d certainly try to eat before your show. If you’d like to enjoy a beer, wine or cocktail for your show, you can bring drinks into the auditorium and usually there are two bars on each of its three floors. If you’re a wine fan, note that the bars can do double-pours into a plastic cup to save you a trip back out. You can also pre-purchase drinks before the show starts for intermission to save time on waiting in a line.
- The Nutty Bavarian – One of the things you may pick up on when entering the DPAC are wonderful sweet, cinnamon smells on the first floor! That’s the Nutty Bavarian, a cart specializing in candied pecans, almonds and cashews served up in a small paper cone. The Nutty Bavarian is ONLY on DPAC’s first floor so don’t miss out! It’s my show tradition to grab some nuts at the Nutty Bavarian during intermission so sometimes I’ll have to hustle from the 3rd floor down to the 1st and back up, after grabbing some nuts.
- Rest rooms at show intermission – Intermissions are usually pretty short (15 minutes), and the bathroom lines for the women’s restroom can get long. If you’re planning a bathroom break at intermission, you’ll have to get out as soon as the curtain goes down to minimize the wait. There will be a DPAC employee holding a sign for the end of the women’s line so keep an eye out for it!
- Photos – While you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the theatre, DPAC will often have a backdrop-screen for Broadway shows to take a commemorative picture of your evening. Check it out if you want a picture with your date or loved ones, it’s usually on the first floor.
DPAC Tips and Tricks Post-Show
- Meet the Cast – After your Broadway show, there will sometimes be cast members available for photos and signatures. Head on over to Mangum Street towards the rear of the venue. You’ll see some steps that lead up to a red door where you can wait.
- Post-show Drinks – Now if you don’t want to fight the traffic out and back home, you may want to grab a drink or bite and relax but it will probably be after 10pm. Check out my post for more detailed information on the best bar and drink options around DPAC.
- DPAC Open House – Once a year, DPAC does an open house to thank their patrons and sell season subscriptions. If you’re a DPAC fan and haven’t done the open house, make sure to get an invite! You’ll get to tour the facility, hang out on the stage and check out the changing rooms. Very cool and a rare occasion to see the behind-the-scenes view of DPAC. My favorite part of the tour is the beautiful signed murals that casts leave after playing the DPAC!