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Arts & Culture
Each Thursday, WFAE checks in with a local arts and entertainment reporter about things to do in Charlotte during the upcoming weekend.

Wynton Marsalis, 'The Office' Parody Headline A Loaded Charlotte Weekend

Jodie Valade
Michael Scott (left, played by Lauren Bell), talks with Jim Halpert (played by Matthew Windsor) and Pam Beesly (played by Jennifer Adams) in Charlotte's First Ward Park during Blumenthal Performing Arts' parody of "The Office."

The weekend is here, and there are a lot of fun events on tap in the Queen City. There's the Cornelius Jazz Festival, Shakespeare with a twist, a garden tour and a murder mystery. And last week, Branford Marsalis was in the QC. This week, guess who's coming to town?

You guessed it, younger brother Wynton Marsalis, a renowned trumpeter, composer and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center. He'll be at Victory Yards in uptown. With WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn to talk about events this weekend is Matt Olin of Charlotte is Creative and "The Biscuit" podcast.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi, Matt.

Matt Olin: Hi there, Gwen.

Glenn: Let's hear a bit more of Wynton Marsalis as you tell us about his performance at Victory Yards.

Olin: Yeah, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet is featuring Wynton Marsalis Thursday evening. And it's going to offer an intimate outdoor performance. It's going to leave audiences really inspired, really uplifted with the full vigor and vision and sort of depth of America's music.

Glenn: OK, now the U.S. National Whitewater's Center will be hosting another great band at River Jam Thursday night, too —, Empire Strikes Brass. So, Matt, where are they from and what's their style of music?

Olin: They are out of Asheville. Since their founding in 2012, they've really grown from a party band of just friends playing New Orleans-inspired music into, now they're a collection of players, singers, songwriters, producers. They have their own original sound.

Glenn: So what time does the show start?

Olin: Well, starts at 7 p.m. and it will run until 10 o'clock.

Glenn: OK, now the Blumenthal is hosting a murder mystery based on this television show that was on the air for nine seasons and is now in syndication.

Courtesy Blumenthal Performing Arts
No parody of "The Office" would be complete without Jim playing pranks on Dwight.

("The Office" opening credits song plays)

Recording of "The Office" character Toby Flenderson: You know who's not going to get to work on some exciting new start up this year? George Howard Skub , aka the alleged Scranton Strangler. Because he's in prison for something he may not have done.

Response: I'm sorry, the Scranton who?

Flenderson: Scranton Strangler. George Howard Skub. Haven't I told you about the jury I was on a couple of years ago?

Glenn: Those are the very recognizable voices of characters from "The Office." Part of a murder mystery parody, who is the Scranton Strangler? Matt, tell us about it.

Olin: This is gonna be really cool. Like the actors are going to use their conversations and scenes to reveal clues. And you, as the audience, you're the detective. And it'll sort of lead you on your way through the experience. If you're a sharp sleuth, hopefully be able to pick out the liars and solve the case. What's cool about this is that no two performances will ever be the same.

Glenn: Days and times for it?

Olin: Well, it starts at Spirit Square. It's going to start Thursday at 6 p.m. There's going to be start times every 30 minutes and it runs through June 6.

Glenn: OK, and also in the theater category, Theatre Charlotte is staging a bit of Shakespeare at the Carolina Raptor Center. Which play?

Olin: I mean, who doesn't love "A Midsummer Night's Dream?" Theatre Charlotte is presenting that most popular comedy from Shakespeare. It's really going to be beautiful out there.

Glenn: And also I heard there's a cool thing happening after the play ends.

Olin: Well, that's the thing. The audiences can have the sort of after-hours chance to walk on the wild side, visit the eagles and the vultures and the hawks and falcons. So this is all done in partnership with the Raptor Center. And you can show up early, as early as 5 o'clock, and even picnic on the grounds.

Courtesy Cornelius Jazz Festival
Dante Lewis

Glenn: Sounds like fun. And back on the jazz front, the Cornelius Jazz Festival is going on this weekend at Smithville Park from 5to 8 p.m. One of the headliners is Columbia, South Carolina's Dante Lewis.

Olin: Yeah, Dante Lewis, and he's been wowing audiences throughout the Carolinas since the age of 12. Just a passionate jazz saxophonist, he has this awesome personality. In 2003, he started this band Vision, which is his party and jazz group. They've just been playing lots of events and other social engagements for years now.

Glenn: And who else is performing? And because of safety restrictions, you do have to register in advance to attend, right?

Olin: Yeah, this is going to be a great evening filled with jazz. And also this artist, Eli Yacinthe is going to play. He's just a great, amazing performer. There'll be food trucks and beverages. You can bring your coolers and picnic baskets if you want. And yes, you're right, Gwen, due to the COVID restrictions, preregistration is required.

Glenn: OK, got to be safe. And moving on to the Fourth Ward garden event that will have food and beverages along the way. These are private gardens, right, Matt?

Olin: Yes, it's an urban garden and lifestyle tour right in the heart of Center City. It'll showcase a lot of these private gardens, these courtyards and outdoor living spaces that really none of us ever get a chance to see.

So you can walk around self guided and just enjoy. And along the way, there's going be food and beverage tastings at the gardens and the restaurants that you encounter along the way.

Glenn: Sounds like fun. And also this weekend, Top Golf in south Charlotte is hosting a Birdie for Beethoven tournament to help support the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. That's Thursday night. The Urbanity Sneaker Gala is Saturday at 6:30 with DJ's, live music, art and fashion, with proceeds going to the Core4Success Foundation and any donated sneakers going to less fortunate adolescents. And the first annual Habana Festival will be at The Vintage in Dilworth on Saturday with traditional Cuban food and drinks. Matt thanks for being with us for Weekend In Entertainment.

Olin: My pleasure, Gwen.

Glenn: Matt Olin is co-founder of Charlotte is Creative.

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