Roses and raspberries, April 30

April 29, 2014 

Kiara-Omerose-Renee Shaw, 9, of Chapel Hill, cracks up as Hillary Nicholas of DSI Comedy Theater performs on the 140 West Franklin Plaza on Saturday.

MARK SCHULTZ — mschultz@newsobserver.com

Roses to Zach Ward and DSI Comedy Theater, which has moved to a new location after eight years in the back of Carr Mill Mall.

If downtown Chapel Hill, resplendant this weekend in the late-April sunshine, is ever to reclaim its crown in the Triangle’s increasingly competitive nightlife scene it will be because of entrepeneurs and entertainers like Ward, who has moved Dirty South Improv Commedy Theater to 462 W. Franklin St.

The new location, next to the Carolina Brewery, provides more than four times the amount of space the theater had before, including a main performance venue on the ground floor and classrooms in the basement.

DSI hosts stand-up, improv and sketch comedy performances throughout the year, as well as workshops, classes and summer camps. The comedy company also organizes the annual N.C. Comedy Arts Festival, which just wrapped its 14th year in February.

And Saturday DSI members brought laughs to a small but appreciative crowd at on the plaza at 140 West Franklin, the town’s newest live entertainment venue, at the foot of the new condominiums. As the multi-hat wearing Aaron Keck moderated, DSI members Brandon Holmes, Hillary Nicholas and Maggie Saunders performed improv routines with a group of giggling children. In one sketch, the kids moves the adult performers’ heads, hands and feet as the adults thought of funny things to say. In another, the kids had to think up answers to blanks spaces in a story line made up on the spot (Think Mad Libs, from junior high school days.)

There are more events scheduled for the plaza this spring and summer, so come out and help grow the crowd. Roses, too, to the series sponsors, which in addition to DSI Comedy Theater include The Chapel Hill News and The News & Observer, The Chapel Hill Weekly, The Stagger, and WCHL and chapelboro.com.

Roses from Elaine Holmes, NC/Raleigh Vasculitis Patient Support Group leader, and local vasculitis patients and families to high school student Sophie Nachman for organizing a very successful community concert March 22 to raise awareness of and more than $1,000 for the Vasculitis Foundation.

Vasculitis is a group of rare autoimmune diseases that inflame blood vessels and lead to damage of various organs. Vasculitis has been in the news recently when it was announced that comedy performer Harold Ramis died from complications of the illness. The Vasculitis Foundation works to support patients and families and funds medical research into theses rare diseases.

Sophie, a violinist with the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra, was joined by fellow musicians – the bands “Over the Hill” from Chapel Hill and “Whatever Works” from Carrboro High School, the Faithfuletts from Miracle Temple Church of Elon, Henry Nachman, Michael Elliot, and Aaron Ballance. They all shared their talents in the community concert, playing rock, pop, fiddle and gospel music.

“Patients and their families benefit from the support programs, resources and medical research funded by the Vasculitis Foundation,” Holmes writes. “We are most grateful to Sophie and the performers for their efforts on our behalf.”

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