XPN Weekend Arts Crawl… Keep warm with the arts: a little Motown, a little salsa!


Motown: the Musical comes to Philadelphia for two weeks.... photo from
Motown: the Musical comes to Philadelphia for two weeks…. photo from

Motown: the Musical  has come to the Kimmel Center!  Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, launched the careers of icons like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, Motown shattered racial barriers and created the soundtrack for a generation. The show has no less than 50 Motown classics.  Through January 18th. Continue reading →


David Lynch art exhibit coming to PAFA this fall

photo via

With rumors of a Twin Peaks reboot effectively squashed, fans of film and visual arts icon David Lynch will have the opportunity to get a look at another side of his surrealist work with a new art exhibit, coming to the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts this fall.  Titled David Lynch: The Unified Fieldthe program will feature rare paintings and drawings created by the PAFA alum along with film screenings organized in conjunction with the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Philadelphia Film Society and International House.  Showings will feature Lynch classics like Mullholland Drive and Blue Velvet, as well as movies chosen by Lynch including 1958 French comedy Mon Oncle and 1950 film noir standout Sunset Boulevard.  More information for the exhibit, which begins with a special member preview night on September 12th, can be found here.  Watch an interview with Lynch about his art below.


XPN Weekend Arts Crawl: The 2nd annual Make Music Philly, the 25th annual Manayunk Arts fest and more


The big event of the weekend is the second Make Music Philly, the Philadelphia version of a worldwide event celebrating music on the longest day of the year, the first day of summer. Planned on World Music Day, the global observance encourages the do-it-yourself attitude that makes music so accessible from novices to skilled performers. From 8 am to 8 pm on Saturday, venues all across Philly will host free music events, with highlights being a festival at Clark Park, performances at the Franklin Institute, and shows at the Fleisher Art Memorial. Join WXPN for our kick off at 10AM at Love Park for a play along percussion jam with the Philly Drum Project. We’ll be ending the evening at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing with a harmonica jam session and play along hosted by John Colgan-Davis followed by a concert with Ted Leo and R&B singer Lee Fields & The Expression

ManayunkArtsFestPosterSmal.a8cbf1ea822724e075a3260bed04eeb4126Has it really been 25 years already? It seems like just yesterday when the Manayunk Arts Festival started. This weekend the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary. Go here for more information. Continue reading →


XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Beer, beer, beer and fun on land and water

philadelphia-beer-week-mayor-nutter-680uw[1]Philadelphia’s love of beer reaches a peak during Philly Beer Week, which is actually 10 days through June 8th. The festivities start Friday with the traditional Opening Tap by Mayor Nutter followed by a party at the 23rd Street Armory.  There are over a thousand events including Craft Beer Day in South Philadelphia with 16 hours of events on Sunday on East Passyunk Avenue.

Also Sunday on East Passyunk Avenue is the Italian National Day Festival featuring live music and dance, food, crafts, and a spaghetti eating contest!  It’s free, rain or shine.

The national Collegiate Rugby Championship Invitational is at PPL Park all weekend, bringing together 20 of the country’s top rugby teams to compete for the Pete Dawkins trophy, named for the iconic athlete.

breaking_through_400px[1]It’s your last chance to see the art produced by the graduating class of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, one of the most prestigious art education institutions in the nation.  This is the 113th annual student exhibition, and some of the work is for sale.

Arden Theatre Company presents Incorruptible, a dark comedy set in the Dark Ages, bringing together an itinerant con man with destitute monks in France.  By Philadelphia playwright Michael Hollinger through June 22.

Walnut2Walnut is a unique event on Saturday that combines a 15-mile regatta on both of Philadelphia’s rivers with a scavenger hunt and a walk from one end of Walnut Street to the other!  There’s also a VIP Finish Line Party on Olympia, the 19th century ship at the Independence Seaport Museum, which uses proceeds from the day to fund its on-the-water education programs.
And the Manayunk Wall once again asserts its power over cyclists in the famous Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic on Sunday.  In addition to the professional race there are activities like amateur racing and the East Falls block party during the weekend.

XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Mother’s Day, juried shows, MOMIX, and more theater than Broadway!


To get ready for Mother’s Day:

The Morris Arboretum has its Annual Plant Sale featuring annuals, new perennial cultivars, woody plants and heirloom roses, as well as the handy expertise of the Arboretum’s staff…

The Pennsylvania Guild Fine of Craftsmen is hosting its third annual Fine Craft Fair all weekend in Rittenhouse Square. The work of some 145 craftsmen encompasses furniture, pottery, photography, jewelry and much more…

Art Star Gallery and Boutique is holding its 11th Annual Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar Saturday and Sunday at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. Over 100 local and national artists have been selected to set up shop and sell their products, which range from housewares to one-of-a-kind curiosities…

Main Line Art Center presents Jewels and Treasures, an exhibition featuring professional yet affordable works of visual art. Proceeds benefit the Art Center’s education and community outreach programs, which reach over 16,000 people annually. Through June 6, with a preview party Friday.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 6.22.05 PMPeople’s Light and Theatre Company presents Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie. In this biographical musical, four actor-musicians play fifteen instruments, perform twenty-five of Guthrie’s songs, and celebrate the fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes tragic life of an American icon. Through May 25.

The Philadelphia Wine and Food Festival is Saturday at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum with over 600 wines from around the world, food from some of Philadelphia’s most popular restaurants, an on-site wine and spirits store, and a silent auction benefitting the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dance-illusionist company Momix returns to Philadelphia with its newest work, Alchemia. Choreographer Moses Pendleton’s latest creation is a multimedia spectacle of invention, thrills, humor and sensuality. Through Sunday at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

And there’s always more… Continue reading →


Inside the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of the “Nutcracker” with Artistic Director Roy Kaiser

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev
Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

An annual holiday tradition in Philadelphia, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is being performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet at the Academy of Music through December 29th. XPN’s Bob Bumbera recently spoke with the the ballet’s artistic director Roy Kaiser about the performance, it’s history and more. Listen to it below. Go here for tickets and more information about the show.


Weekend Arts Crawl (Bonus Edition): The creators of Nerds The Musical talk about the latest incarnation of Bill and Steve’s excellent adventures

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Theatre Company |
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Theatre Company |

WXPN’s Bob Bumbera sat down with Erik Weiner and Jordan Allen-Dutton, the creators of Nerds the Musical: Bill & Steve’s Excellent Adventure to talk about the changes to the show since it’s initial debut in Philadelphia seven years ago. The show has returned to the Suzanne Roberts Theater on Broad Street, presented by the Philadelphia Theatre Company. It runs through December 29th. Tickets and more information here. Listen to Bill and Steve Erik and Jordan below in their interview with XPN’s Bob Bumbera.


30 Days of Philly Arts: Emma at Lantern Theater Company and upcoming Jane Austen Festival

EmmaIn 2015, Jane Austen‘s novel Emma will be 200 years old.  But the concerns and observations of the famous English writer have relevance for today and have earned her a devoted following in this technologically savvy and jaded world, quite a different place from the country estates of Georgian-Regency Britain where her novels are set.

Emma, whom Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed in the 1996 movie version, is a wealthy, intelligent, high spirited and meddling young woman of 20 who delights in matchmaking.  Through the twists and turns of a complex plot, she eventually comes to realize that one of the matches she has been trying to make is counter to her own heart when it comes to her moral mentor, Mr. Knightley …”one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them.”

Bringing this coming of age tale to the state is Lantern Theater Company, which has presented classics and originals over the past 18 years.  Their audience engagement series accompanies each production with discussions with artists and scholars.  This Friday the director of Lantern’s Emma, Kathryn MacMillen, will hold a Q&A with the audience.

Emma, starring  opens in previews today and runs through October 27th.  Next month there is a related  Jane Austen Festival related to the production called Regency and Revelry, featuring among many other activities a Regency dance lesson and readings/signings with noted Austen scholars.

For ticket information for Emma and the upcoming Lantern season click here.



30 Days of Philly Arts: Constitution Day celebrations

constitutiondaypic Here in the cradle of our nation’s government, the 226th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution is a big deal. The National Constitution Center on Arch Street, now 10 years old, is a repository of information and education about our legal system and the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the document that starts “We the people…”

Today the Center is offering a day full of free activities including naturalization of new citizens with a keynote address by Gerda Weissman Klein, Holocaust survivor and founder of Citizenship Counts.  Also speaking today are civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis and free speech advocate Mary Beth Tinker. There will be discussions of the constitutional implications of two issues in the news now, drones and gay marriage.  The Center will also host game shows on the separation of powers and bill of rights, offer crafts and colonial lawn games, and even serve a birthday cake for the Constitution.

While you’re at the Center, you can also see a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln in a special exhibit up through September 22nd.

Also celebrating Constitution Day is nearby Christ Church Burial Ground, where a number of the signers of the Constitution are buried.  The Church and cemetery will host family friendly events on the anniversary of our nation’s most important document.


30 Days of Philly Arts: Go directly to jail – for a tour of Eastern State Penitentiary

Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary
Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary, which housed prisoners from 1829 to 1971, is a National Historic Landmark.  In 1787, while helping to put together the Constitution of the United States (tomorrow is Constitution Day!), Benjamin Franklin convened a committee to deal with the miserable conditions in which prisoners were kept in Europe and America.

It took a few decades for Pennsylvania to take the lead in prison reform and endow a new word with meaning: penitentiary, a place designed to cause prisoners to reflect on their crimes and repent rather than being simply punished.  This method was derived from Quaker principles and prisoner isolation was strictly enforced.

As word spread of the new concept and the innovative building in which it was being employed, visitors came from all over the world, including Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville and British writer Charles Dickens, who wrote opposing opinions about the methods of Eastern State.

Tourists came, too, in the nineteenth century, and they are still visiting the Penitentiary.  They come in huge numbers for the annual Halloween Terror Behind the Walls tour, but tours of Eastern State are possible every day of the year.

There’s a self guided audio tour of 45 minutes to several hours with a soundtrack of the Voices of Eastern State–guards, wardens, inmates–narrated by actor Steve Buscemi.  There are newly expanded Hands On History tours in which guides help visitors recreate unique experiences from playing bocci as if you were a prisoner to unlocking cells as if you were a guard.  Both these activities are included in the price of admission.

Eastern State Penitentiary also houses historical and art exhibitions.  There’s a ongoing collection of some 500 specimens of insects and invertebrates modeled after the collecting of a late 19th century inmate. TowerCam! shows the guards’ perspective from the top of the prison. There’s a cell block covered in knitting using 25,000 yards of yarn, and several more arts installations and exhibits covering the history of Eastern state, like the refurbished synagogue and a recreation of the luxurious interior of gangster Al Capone‘s cell.

ESP has been featured as a setting for various movies and music videos. It was used in the Bruce Willis movie 12 Monkeys and in the film Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen. The Dead Milkmen filmed the video for “Punk Rock Girl” there, and it was used in the Tina Turner video for the song “One Of The Living” from the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome movie. Watch that video below.

More information here on visiting this remarkable Philadelphia landmark (not recommended for children under the age of seven).