DPAC’s Josh Anderson Has Seen It All!

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One of the popular performances that comes to DPAC is Disney’s “Lion King.” Photo courtesy of Dean van Meer.

DPAC’s Josh Anderson: 23 Years of Broadway, Concerts and Comedy


In his 23 years in the entertainment industry, the Durham Performing Arts Center’s (DPAC) director of production, Josh Anderson, has seen many performances come through, including Broadway shows, rock concerts and big-name comedians. 

DPAC is midway through its 15th season of entertaining guests from around the Triangle, and Anderson has been with the performance center since day one. 

Standing backstage with Anderson and DPAC’s director of marketing and sales, Josette Roten, outside the Green Room where many musicians and actors have lounged before taking center stage, I look at the thousands of names of performers who have signed their names along the backstage hallways and listen to Anderson share the remarkable journey of his career in theater production. 

His journey began with a simple response to an ad in The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, and led him to his current role as the director of production at DPAC. After Anderson’s time at the university he spent six years as a stage coordinator at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia before returning home and applying for a job at the newly constructed DPAC in 2008. 

“We did our first show on November 30, 2008, with B.B. King, and then it was Lewis Black and Theatre in the Park’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’” he reflects. 

Durham Performing Arts Center’s director of production, Josh Anderson. Photo courtesy of DPAC.

DPAC will soon be old enough to drive, turning 16 this November. So, do you have a favorite Broadway musical?

Anderson: “Phantom of the Opera”—hands down. I could sit and watch that show every day for a year. We’ve been fortunate that we were able to have one of the biggest tours of Phantom come through in 2009, and then again with the other two versions. 

 Keeping it local, DPAC brought Ira David Wood’s “A Christmas Carol” to Durham.

Anderson: We love Theatre in the Park. We do six performances here in Durham every December now. They’re just the best. They put on a great production. When they pull their truck in on Monday to load in, if you aren’t in the holiday spirit by then, you will be. 

People might not know this—how many trucks are needed to bring in the props, equipment and gear used in a Broadway performance?

Anderson: Our largest show is “Frozen,” with 22 semi trailers. The Radio City Rockettes’ “Christmas Spectacular” was technically about 21 trailers. “The Lion King” was around 20, and “Phantom of the Opera,” “Wicked” and “Hamilton” are in the 10–14 range. Other ones playing for just a week can be anywhere from four to eight trailers. 

Where do you park 22 trucks after they’re done unloading?

Anderson: Two trucks will always stay in our loading dock, but other than that we don’t have a place for them. But these are professional truck drivers. They know where all the truck stops are. They figure out where to drop the trailers and take on another gig. And then they’re back in two weeks when it’s time to return.

DPAC will celebrate its many years of entertaining the Triangle later this fall. Photo courtesy of Estlin Haiss.

Is there a ‘hidden gem’ show many people might not know much about?

Anderson: “Young Frankenstein” and “The Addams Family” are just fun—you don’t have to think too hard about them, especially if you are someone like me who grew up watching “The Addams Family” on TV. 


What about rock shows or musicians? Who has been one of your personal favorites coming through town?

Anderson: Bar none, the best rock ‘n’ roll show we’ve ever had was Godsmack in March. Then we’ve had Brandi Carlile twice in four months—just her on stage, which was incredible. But I’m a rock ‘n’ roll guy, so besides Godsmack in March, we had Tesla, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. There are a lot of different styles, which is great. 

Walking backstage, you see hundreds of murals with thousands of signatures. What’s the story behind the walls here at DPAC?

Anderson: Every show has someone in its company—an actor, crew member or stage manager—who does the painting. It’s mostly done by hand, but sometimes they use stencils. When I started, I took it on because there are several venues across the country that are known for this, and I decided [we needed to do it], too. 

DPAC Wall Murals

Check out just a few of the murals on the walls inside Durham’s DPAC. 
Photos by Dathan Kazsuk.

Once the mural is on the wall, all the cast and crew sign their names around it. You can spend hours just checking these out. Do other acts—like musicians and comedians—sign the walls?

Anderson: I try to keep a log, but we have 65 Rock & Roll Hall of Famers who have signed the walls. That number should jump by two in November, when Peter Frampton and Mary J. Blige come in. 


Standing here on center stage, looking out at 2,700 empty seats, is intimidating—I can’t imagine my reaction if all the seats were full. Has anyone ever taken the stage and just gotten overwhelmed? 

Anderson: I won’t name names, but this past September we had a musician who was part of a band. When he walked out on stage at the end of the show, he FaceTimed someone important to him, showed off our theater, and said, “Look at this place. Who knew this was here?” He thought it was amazing, so that was pretty cool. 


Has anything wonky ever happened on stage that made you go, “Oh no!”

Anderson: It doesn’t happen often, but there have been the occasional times when something is not working quite right, or we have to delay the show start or delay in the middle of a show. But thankfully, those are few and far between. And honestly, if something else goes wonky, we don’t know about it because their crew takes care of those needs. 

Check out more from around the Triangle at midtownmag.com.

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