Spring is here! Enjoy the arts in the Philly region with recommendations from WHYY's Robin Bloom.
Celebration of Black Writing
Art Sanctuary honors authors and institutions who have been major contributors to the proliferation of black literature and literacy with the 30th annual Celebration of Black Writing, May 1-31. One of the oldest African-American literary events in the nation, activities range from conferences and workshops centered around literary art forms, writing, publishing, the role of black writing and art, an outdoor festival, Chicken Bone Beach photo exhibition (pictured), live music, author readings and interviews, and much more.
The South Street Spring Festival returns on Saturday, May 3, 11am-8pm with 40 bands, 30 restaurants, 40 vendors, the 2nd annual German Maifest outside Brauhaus Schmitz including German beer, dancers and a May Pole! The outdoor block party spans 8 blocks of South Street between Front and 8th and along the 2nd Street Plaza, between South and Lombard with 3 main stages and 8 other performance areas, along with a kid's zone, crafts, and more. Free. Presented by South Street Headhouse District.
The Sister Cities Park International Festival returns Saturday, May 3, noon-5pm, 18th Street & The Ben Franklin Parkway, a celebration of Philadelphia's ten Sister Cities including Florence, Italy, Tel Aviv, Israel, Torun, Poland, Tianjin, China, Incheon, Korea, Douala, Cameroon, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Kobe, Japan, Aix-en-Provence, France, and the Abruzzo region of Italy. The festival is free and open to the public and includes dancing, music, food, and hands-on activities for all ages.
Plazapalooza is Saturday, May 3, 1pm-7pm, featuring live music, food, beer, children's activities and more, Grays Ferry Avenue between South & 23rd Streets at the Catharine Thorn Fountain, Philadelphia.
The 81st annual Dover Days Festival takes place May 2-4, with live music, historical interpreters, colonial songs and antique instruments, lectures, exhibits, more than 300 craft vendors, colonial and Victorian tradespeople and crafters, Civil War and Revolutionary war reenactments, fireworks, and more in historic Dover, DE.
The 6th annual Ocean City Block Party is Saturday, May 3, 9am-5pm, with over 300 vendors, live music, restaurant, children's activities, and more on Asbury Avenue from 5th Street to 14th Street, Ocean City, NJ.
The 5th annual Norristown Arts Hill Festival is Saturday, May 3, 10am-5pm, with a variety of music, dance, theater performances, children's activities, food, crafts, and more, at Main and DeKalb Streets, Norristown, PA. Free.
British singer-songwriter David Gray comes to Philly on his spring tour, Friday, May 2, 8pm at the Temple Performing Arts Center's Liacouras Center, N. Broad Street, Philadelphia. John Smith opens.
Nickel Creek's tour brings them to Philadelphia on Friday, May 2, 8pm, with the retro duo the Secret Sisters opening at the Tower Theatre, 69th & Ludlow, Upper Darby, PA.
Wonderluv: A Stevie Wonder Tribute
Stevie Wonder fans, take note! Christiana Cultural Arts Center hosts Wonderluv: A Stevie Wonder Tribute featuring Darnell Miller, Donna Tucker-Jones, Francee Boulware, Norwood Coleman, Jr., Benod C. Durham II, Vernell "Dooder" Mincey, Jeff Knoettner, Tony Smith, Umoja Strings & Fruits of the Spirit, Justin Graham, Parris Bowens, Moriah Middlebrooks & Richard Raw, Friday, May 2. Doors open at 7 and performance begins at 7:30pm, 705 N. Market Street, Wilmington.
The Both – Aimee Mann and Ted Leo perform Saturday, May 3 at Union Transfer. Doors open at 8pm and show is at 9pm. Nick Diamonds of Islands opens, 1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia.
Singing City's "Wit and Whimsy"
Singing City hosts Wit and Whimsy, their 66th Anniversary Concert, Sunday, May 4, 3pm, with soprano Elizabeth Weigle and baritone Randall Scarlata. The program includes Irving Fine's The Choral New Yorker, a setting of 1940s era poetry from the New Yorker magazine, Eric Whitacre's Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine featuring Spiral Q Puppet Theater, and William Schuman's cantata Casey at the Bat at the Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
Arts & Craft Shows
Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden takes place this weekend on the Great Lawn (pictured) of Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton, NJ. Featuring jewelry, glass, ceramics, decorative and wearable fiber, mixed media, furniture, and basketry, and more from a jury-selected group of 25 professional craftspeople from throughout the country. Also, heirloom perennials and unique annuals for sale at the former New Jersey Governor's Mansion, 55 Stockton Street. Kicking off Friday, May 2 with a preview garden party, 6:30pm-9pm and open to the public Saturday, May 3, 10am-5pm, and Sunday, May 4, 11am-4pm. Step inside the museum and check out "Micah Williams: Portrait Artist," on view through September 14.
The 2nd Haverford Guild of Craftsmen Spring Fine Craft Show is Friday, May 2, 12pm-9pm and Saturday, May 3, 10am-5pm at St. George's Episcopal Church, at Darby Road and Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, PA. A chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, the group is one of the oldest professional craft guilds in the country and showcases the local handmade work of 30 artists in media such as jewelry, leather, ceramics, glass, fiber, photography, copper, painting, wood, illustration and mixed media, along with demonstrations. Free. Wine and cheese reception from 6pm-9pm, Friday, May 2.
The 41st annual Yellow Springs Art Show is underway through May 11 showcasing juried work by over 175 artists from the Delaware Valley and beyond in painting, drawings, graphics, and 3 dimensional works, fine art, and more. A wine and cheese happy hour will take place on Friday, May 2, 5pm-8pm, Chester Springs, PA.
Go West Craft Fest is Saturday, May 3, 11am-5pm, at The Woodlands with crafts, live music, circus performers, handmade gifts, children's activities and more, along with the opportunity to wander the cemetery or take a walk through the Hamilton Mansion, 40th and Woodland, Philadelphia.
"Gint" at EgoPo Classic Theater
EgoPo Classic Theater ends their 20th season of celebrating Henrik Ibsen with GINT, a bold adaptation of the Norwegian playwright's Peer Gynt, by Obie Award winning Philadelphia playwright Romulus Linney. Transplanting Ibsen's play from Norway to Appalachia, Linney's version harnesses the sounds and sights of the American south. After he is banished to the mountains, Ibsen's iconic, rakish, pleasure-driven Gynt seeks a new path for his life as he traverses the real and imagined landscape of rural Kentucky. All performances begin with a pre-show hoedown, live Appalachian music, and refreshments like beer cheese, pork rinds, and a specially brewed Appalachian Pale Ale. Opening night festivities on Friday, May 2 include a panel conversation with EgoPo artists and Ibsen specialist Rolf Kristian Stang, organized by the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce. Starring Philadelphia actors Sean Lally, Melanie Julian, and Isa St. Clair and directed by Producing Artistic Director Lane Savadove through May 11 at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, Philadelphia.
City Theater Company's "Bomb-itty of Errors"
City Theater Company transforms the Black Box @ OperaDelaware Studios into an after-hours social lounge complete with high-top seating, stripper poles, and a bar for Bomb-itty of Errors. The adaptation or "ad-rap-tation" of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors was written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, GQ, and Erik Weiner, and transports you to the hip-hop haven of upstate New York with music by J.A.Q. and direction by Producing Artistic Director Michael Gray. Starring Chris Banker, Dylan Geringer, Patrick Hunt O'Hara, and Brendan Sheehan with a special appearance by DJ Swizzul, May 2-17, 4 S. Poplar Street, Wilmington.
"Sense and Sensibility" at Hedgerow Theatre
Hedgerow Theatre, America's first repertory theatre, takes you back to early 19th century England with Jon Jory's adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel Sense and Sensibility, through June 1. The production retains much of the original dialogue of Austen's first published novel with insightful commentary on the society of the time. Directed by Jared Reed and starring Jennifer Summerfield and Nell Bang-Jensen as the Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne, along with Steve Carpenter, Liam Castellan, Brock Vickers, Colleen Marker, Stacy Skinner, Maryruth Stine, Andrew Parcell, and Joanna Volpe at 64 Rose Valley Road, Media, PA. Complimentary tea included at the two Wednesday matinees, May 7 and 28.
Simpatico's "In a Dark Dark House"
The Sympatico Theatre Project concludes its 9th season with the regional premiere of Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House. Two estranged brothers reconnect and grapple with their troubled childhood when one is court-ordered to reside in a psychiatric hospital. Directed by Harriet Power, the show stars Philadelphia actors Allen Radway, Mary Beth Schrader, and Ahren Potratz. Sympatico is partnering with Philadelphia Children's Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports children who have been victims of sexual abuse, to continue the important dialogue incited by this moving play. A series of post-show discussions will take place on May 14, 18, and 21, and a special Industry Night & Simpatico Social on Tuesday, May 27. Performances run from May 7 through June 1 at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
Brandywine Ballet's "Beauty & the Beast"
Brandywine Ballet brings its production of Beauty & the Beast back with original choreography by Ballet Mistress and resident choreographer Nancy Page, Friday, May 2, 10am, Saturday, May 3, 4pm, and Sunday, May 4, 2pm. The adaptation of the traditional fairy tale for ballet features Caitlin Oeste as Belle, BalletX's Zachary Kapeluck as the Beast, and Jaime Lennon as the Rose, with ensemble dancing and a pas de deux between principal dancers at Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 700 S. High Street, West Chester, PA.
Nichole Canuso's "Midway Avenue"
For three nights only, FringeArts presents the world premiere of Nichole Canuso's Midway Avenue, a dance exploring the relationship between movement and architecture, set to Chopin's 24 Preludes. Reflecting on growing up in Philadelphia in the 1980s, Canuso's one-woman-show asks if bodes have a "Philadelphia accent." A special post-performance discussion on May 3, "Architecture, Memory, and the Body," with Canuso, Inga Saffron, Andrew Simonet, and Emaleigh Doley will continue this conversation about bodily movement and the places where we were raised. Performances Friday, May 2, 7pm, Saturday, May 3, 7pm, and Sunday, May 4, 2pm at FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia.
MOMIX at Annenberg Center
The dancer-illusionists troupe MOMIX returns to Annenberg Center with the Philadelphia premiere of Alchemia, the latest full-length work by artistic director Moses Pendleton, Thursday, May 8, 7:30pm, Friday, May 9, 8pm, Saturday, May 10, 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday, May 11, 3pm. The stunning multimedia spectacle incorporates props, light, shadow, projections, sound and constructed costumes, and explores the four classic elements of nature - earth, water, air, and fire - set to a wide-ranging soundtrack with a cast of 10 dancers. Pendleton's choreography was most recently seen at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony work, "Doves of Peace." A talk back with Pendleton will be held after each performance. Special outreach activities include a Student Discovery performance on Friday, May 9, 10:30am and a complimentary master class for the dance community on Friday, May 9, 2pm, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
"Birds of Paradise" at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University showcases 39 species of beautiful, endangered, and illusive birds native to the rainforests of New Guinea. Listen to their distinctive songs, watch their ostentatious mating dances, learn about their unique evolutionary development through hands-on activities, and see examples of their rare plumes which were once highly prized as decorations for women's hats. The interactive exhibit is based on new research by National Geographic photographer Tim Laman and Cornell ornithologist Edwin Scholes. Displays feature specimens from the Academy's renowned ornithology collections including mounted birds and a fancy hat with bird-of-paradise plumes, on view May 3 through September 1 at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia.
PAFA's 113th Annual Student Exhibition
If you're looking to purchase artwork, look no further than the 113th Annual Student Exhibition, opening at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. For more than 100 years, this display has been a career-launching moment for growing artists and a unique opportunity for area collectors to purchase innovative new work. For the first time this year, selected students documented their artistic process and preparation for the show in a "Road to ASE" series. Preview party is Thursday, May 8, 4pm-8:30pm and a public reception on Friday, May 9, 5pm-8pm. On view through June 1 at PAFA's Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia. Pictured: "Metro" by Phyllis Gorsen.
Marissa Nicosia contributed reporting to this week's Guide.