At the time, there was understandable skepticism as to how much-smaller Durham would fare relative to the million-population Wake County's downtown arts centers.
Beyond the issue of the viability of DPAC's programming, however, are philosophical and economic issues. First, there's the issue of competition with the Progress Energy Center, the existing four-stage facility in Raleigh...
The Raleigh venue's general manager, Jim Lavery, says the competition is real, but he seems to take it in stride. "We're going to lose shows, but we're not backing down," he says. Indeed, he points to a major coup: a four-week run next summer of Jersey Boys (averaging 2,606 tickets sold, and raking in $176,505).
But Broadway Series South's current mainstage season is also mainly fresh productions; four of its six shows hit the road in the last six months. The remaining two launched in 2006.
The Durham Performing Arts Center will have to offer those kinds of shows consistently if the 2,800-seat downtown venue is to be successful, said William Jones, executive director of North Carolina Theatre. (Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium is somewhat smaller, at 2,300 seats.)
"If they have a big, big show we can't get in Raleigh, I think they'll do OK," said Jones, whose company produces its own shows, as opposed to tours. "If they're doing revivals of shows we've done before, I think they're going to have a tough time."
So, how are things going one year in?
As a brief story on WRAL notes, it's curtains for Broadway Series South's namesake productions, with the theater series abandoning the musical productions that gave the series its eponymous title.
Instead, the Raleigh venue will change around its line-up to try to reposition its niche in the local market. Per WRAL:
Jim Lavery, general manager of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, said the production company will no longer feature Broadway musicals in an effort to broaden its reach.
The decision was based, in part, on the opening of the Durham Performing Arts Center in late 2008, Lavery said. The DPAC features some of the same type of entertainment, producing musicals like "Phantom of the Opera" and "Mamma Mia!"
In some ways, it's not a surprise; Lavery had noted a year ago that he considered Broadway shows to be a shrinking market, a fret BCR has heard from Durham gadflys, too. (And a big reason that the DPAC, like other venues, mixes in concerts, comedians and other draws.)
And as Lavery notes, the Progress Energy Center has an interesting new feature, an outdoor amphitheater in downtown Raleigh that will allow even greater capacity for shows than either the Raleigh or Durham spaces.
Between its indoor and outdoor spaces, look for more shows by the likes of Cirque de Soleil or rock-oriented performances and shows.
In a sense, more variety isn't a bad thing, for either Raleigh residents or Durhamites.
A broader range of show choices and two venues competing, trying to outposition each other with innovative performances? Sign me up.