Downtown Raleigh city skyline.

Dolly Does Raleigh

In Do, October 2021 by Melissa HowsamLeave a Comment

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Here, local Broadway star Lauren Kennedy Brady dishes on top Raleigh spots fellow castmates just have to check out while in town.

If you’ve been around Raleigh or the arts for any length of time, you know the Kennedy family. Local arts legends in their own right (for which Kennedy Theatre in Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown is named), for her part, NC-bred Lauren Kennedy Brady is a seasoned Broadway alum. With such on-Broadway credits as Fantine of Les Misérables under her belt, Kennedy Brady often performs locally in NC Theatre’s Broadway-style productions (most recently as Donna in Mamma Mia!)—on top of running her own company, Theatre Raleigh, where she has garnered acclaimed credits as producing artistic director. 

This month, she’s set to take stage in NC Theatre’s highly anticipated 9 to 5 production alongside Broadway stars Sara Jean Ford and Ryah Nixon as leading ladies, and Ben Davis as male lead (boss Franklin Hart)—with a guest appearance from another local theater legend, Ira David Wood III. In front of her debut/six-day run as Violet (aka the role made famous by Lily Tomlin), we asked Kennedy Brady where she says her visiting Broadway castmates absolutely must while away any spare time while in town. See you at these spots around Raleigh—oh, and see you at the show! Oct. 12–17,  

“It is so exciting for me to experience the growth of Raleigh, to watch it become an urban mecca and cultural city while still holding on to its identity! When I came back in 2012 after having lived in NYC for 20-plus years, the boom had already begun, and it has continued to grow and flourish!  I feel invigorated to be a part of that!”

Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing 

Wye Hill has the most beautiful view of Downtown Raleigh with a huge patio that is perfect for a fall night out, where you can be sure to be comfortable in these COVID times. (And, hey, it is also owned and operated by two artists, Sara Abernethy and Chris Borreson.) You have to get the Brewhouse Mussels!”


“My favorite coffee shop—and best place to have a meeting or meet a friend for a catch-up! With ample seating inside and out, it is a bustling atmosphere where students are studying, deals are being made, and friends are reconnecting! If you don’t get the sweet biscuit with fried egg, sausage and cheese, you have missed the opportunity to finally understand what heaven is!”

Videri Chocolate Factory

“It is better than a Wonka Bar—no gimmicks, just awesome chocolate in a boutique setting! Take a self-guided tour and watch the chocolate being made in front of you! Oh, and did I mention they also are now offering soft-serve ice cream?!”

North Carolina Museum of Art

“NCMA always has rotating art in the gallery, so you will always be delighted with what they curate. And for nature lovers, the paths and trails are absolutely wonderful and shouldn’t be missed! And on a beautiful autumn evening, you might just be able to watch a concert or catch a movie outside in the amphitheater.”

Stroll nature trails or walk along 22 miles of hiking trails meandering through forest.

William B. Umstead State Park

“The foliage may just be starting to turn, so try to catch the beauty of the great outdoors while in Raleigh.  Umstead Park boasts over 20 miles of hiking trails and three beautiful lakes! You will see folks biking, riding horseback and boating, but I prefer to just find a nice quiet spot and picnic with my family!”

Village District

“Home to my favorite boutique—even when I lived in NYC—I always bought my clothes at Uniquities in the Village District! There is a ton of wonderful shopping and restaurants in this four square blocks of retail heaven! A perfect afternoon for me is browsing through Sephora and Uniquities after I have met my mom for lunch at Cantina 18, followed up by a relaxing rest stop and a much-needed treat of a mani/pedi!”

Bonus: Durham Field Trip

“Though the Durham Bulls will not be playing any home games during the run of 9 to 5, it is still worth a trip to see the stadium and walk through the American Tobacco Campus. And a stroll through Duke University is an absolute must! One of the most gorgeous campuses in the country, it’s home to Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Duke University Chapel. On your way home, hit the King’s Sandwich Shop for a throwback experience with burgers, hot dogs, fries and a cold milkshake!”;;

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