Fun in Fairmount Park, online jazz fest, theater-by-phone and more in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

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Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park (Photo by Elizabeth Felicella)

This week there is more to celebrate on the pandemic-safe events front with vaccine rollout chugging along and spring on the way. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced he is loosening restrictions on the state’s restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos and more, that will allow them to operate at 75% capacity by April 4. (Philly has not yet announced if they will follow that policy.) Parks and Recreation and the Office of Special Events, though, are once again accepting permit applications for larger events, including block parties and large gatherings.

Tiny Dynamite: “We Can’t Wait”

(Courtesy of Tiny Dynamite)

Philadelphia theaters have struggled for survival since pandemic-mandated closing, but many have come up with innovative ways to stay connected with audiences. Tiny Dynamite and its “A Play, A Pie, and A Pint” series is already at the forefront of that effort with  their commitment to taking theater to the people. This week, they premiered “We Can’t Wait,” a play by phone. As shared on their website, the play is described as “Static, a far-off voice; it is a long distance call — Jae, reaching you from the other end of the universe. Jae has a series of intergalactic transmissions to share, from different pockets of the galaxy: the experiences of lives and cultures in a time of isolation.” Your ticket nets you a 20-minute pre-recorded phone call for one, with prompts to curate your own personal experience.

  • What: theatrical play-by-phone
  • Where: Virtual audio via Tiny Dynamite
  • When: Through Saturday, March 20
  • How much: Suggested donation of $15

Reopening: Shofuso, Treetop Quest in Fairmount Park

Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park (Courtesy of Shofuso House)

Fairmount Park is an oasis in the best of times, but during the worst days of the pandemic, it became even more essential recreation for area residents. Two of its most popular attractions are reopening for the season on Saturday, March 20. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden debut their new Pebble Beach alongside its central pond, based on drawings made in 1957 by Shofuso’s garden designer Tansai Sano. The site’s famed cherry blossom viewings start in April with themed events scheduled throughout the month. Treetop Quest, which offers zip-lining, “Tarzan” swings, and obstacles in Fairmount Park, is open to ages 4 and up. COVID restrictions, which include mandatory masks and personally-owned gloves required for the course, are still in effect.

East Coast Jazz Festival

Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Center City Philadelphia (Courtesy of Chris’ Jazz Cafe)

As venues await assistance from the recently passed Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, Chris’ Jazz Café is moving forward with an online music festival in conjunction with five other jazz-heavy entertainment spaces. The East Coast Jazz Festival will be both live and taped from Washington, D.C.’s Blues Alley, New York City’s Birdland and Smalls clubs, Baltimore’s Keystone Korner, and Scullers Jazz Club in Boston. Performers include trumpeter Keyon Harrold, the Nicole Glover Trio, Eri Yamamoto, a Charlie Parker Centennial Celebration with the Champian Fulton Quartet, and more.

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  • What: Music festival
  • Where: Virtual via Chris’ Jazz Cafe
  • When: Saturday, March 20, 5 p.m.
  • How much: $15 donation suggested

World Cafe Live: Lisa Loeb All-Request Show, Taj Mahal

Singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb will perform an all-request show from her home on Saturday night in support of her latest release “A Simple Trick to Happiness” released last year right before the pandemic. The album’s first single, “Shine” may be among the songs she plays, as well as her big hit “Stay (I Missed You)” from 1994’s “Reality Bites” soundtrack. Blues legend Taj Mahal kicks off a series of online shows on Saturday nights through March 27.

Dining: Easter brunch options

Talula’s Garden in Washington Square (Courtesy of Talula’s Garden/Cashman and Associates)

Easter falls on April 4 this year. If you celebrate it, the holiday should be extra special as a feeling of hope that better days are ahead. Pennsylvania restaurants that undergo a self-certification process will be able to accommodate 75% of indoor capacity and Philly restaurants are now at 50%. To-go options abound also (and are likely to continue as a permanent part of the restaurant landscape). Talula’s Table has an Easter brunch available as takeout only. It is a catered menu, and the cutoff date to order is March 29 for pickup. Talula’s Garden has no reservation cutoff for dining-in or takeout but may sell out. Prepped By Constellation offers a four-course family Easter brunch and a family Passover Seder, but holiday meal packages must be ordered by March 29. Revolution Chophouse in Valley Forge is offering a three-course prix-fixe dinner that may have openings if you’re looking for last-minute reservations. Center City faves (that I can personally attest to appreciating) The Love and Steak 48 offer delicious-sounding special Easter brunch menus. We recommend making those reservations right now.

  • What: Easter brunch
  • Where: Various venues
  • When: Sunday, April 4 (reservations need to be made in advance)
  • How much: Prices vary

Elfreth’s Alley walking tour

Elfreth’s Alley in Old City
Elfreth’s Alley in Old City (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Curious about the lives of Philadelphians of the past – especially knowing that over a century ago, they, too, lived through a pandemic? This walking tour that begins at Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest surviving residential street, attempts to answer that question from a socioeconomic standpoint. What wealth disparities did Philly denizens have to contend with? Who was rich, who was poor, and how did they live and interact with commerce? All your questions will be answered during this tour hosted by the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks.

  • What: Walking tour
  • Where: Elfreth’s Alley 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia
  • When: Sunday, March 21, 1 p.m.
  • How much: $15 – $20

Free Library of Philadelphia: CNN’s Don Lemon discusses new book

Don Lemon attends the 13th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Invision/AP)

The CNN anchor has been at the forefront of race issues via “CNN Tonight” where he’s interviewed some of the leading civil rights activists, politicians, and thinkers of the day. He’s also covered a multitude of events from the Ferguson protests to the Capitol riots and his new book “This Is The Fire: What I Say To My Friends About Racism” extends that discussion. He’ll talk about it virtually in an event sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia author series.

  • What: Virtual book talk
  • Where: Online via the Free Library
  • When: Monday, March 21, 6:30 p.m.
  • How much: $33, a signed book is included and will be mailed 2-3 weeks later

Philadelphia Zoo: “Big Time” dinosaur exhibit

A pair of animatronic T-Rexes
The T-Rex will soon be featured at Philadelphia Zoo, in animatronic form. (Philadelphia Zoo)

Dinosaurs are making a comeback – at least at the Philadelphia Zoo. A new attraction features 24 animatronic dinos that will provide a realistic look into the era when the ginormous reptiles ruled the planet. If you’ve ever only seen dinosaur models through the glass of a history museum – and that’s all of us – you now have the opportunity to better imagine what they may have looked, sounded, and moved like in real life.

  • What: Live-action dinosaur attraction
  • Where: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Ave, Philadelphia
  • When: Monday, March 29 – Thursday, Sept. 30
  • How much: $19 – $24, “Big Time” attraction is an additional $6 for children and adults. Free for children under 2.

Keep checking with “Things To Do” as we continue to provide our picks for entertainment during the industry’s COVID-19 recovery. Please consult our coronavirus updates to keep up with the latest information regionally.

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