Great theater, the dawn of Black History Month, and winter festivals are this week’s highlights

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Courtesy of Theatre Philadelphia

Courtesy of Theatre Philadelphia

For many, this will be a painful weekend as the Eagles relinquish their claim as Super Bowl champions. The Los Angeles Rams will be facing off with the New England Patriots for that honor in Super Bowl LIII Sunday.

If you just can’t bring yourself to watch the game, you’re not alone.

But not to worry. Plenty of highlights also await ﹘ including events marking the beginning of Black History Month, a preview of Philly’s upcoming Theater Week and an array of winter festivals.

Philly Theater Week
Various Venues
February 7 -17th
Up to $30, some events are free
Kickoff Event: Theater Week Preview Party
Cherry Street Pier
Feb. 1, 5–8 p.m.
Feb. 2, 1–4 p.m.
Both events free with RSVP.

More than 100 productions and 315 performances will be staged throughout Philly Theater Week ﹘ including readings, panel discussions, Black History Month-themed works and events that include audience participation, as well as a jazz concert featuring icon Wynton Marsalis. Philly Theater Week encompasses productions throughout the tristate area and includes music, independent artist projects and productions with themes encompassing diverse ages, races, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Chestnut Hill On Ice
7900 – 8600 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia and nearby venues including Laurel Hill Gardens
Feb. 1, 5-9 p.m.
Feb. 2, noon-5 p.m.
Free, with some ticketed events

The historic borough of Chestnut Hill hosts its annual winter festival (formerly the Valentine’s Ice Festival) along several blocks of Germantown Avenue and nearby. The two-day ice festival ﹘ aptly titled given the weekend’s forecast ﹘ features ice-sculpting demonstrations, an iceless rink made of polymer that rivals the real thing, a yurt village, an ice bonfire and an “ice bar,” serving what we can only imagine will be iced drinks from a bar carved completely out of ice. Fortunately for frozen hands and toes, chili specials are available at 10 participating restaurants and warming stations will be set up throughout the area.

African-American Children’s Book Fair
Community College of Philadelphia
The Gymnasium
1700 Spring Garden Street
Feb. 2, 1-4 p.m.
Free, books not included

Now in its 27th year, the African-American Children’s Book Fair provides an opportunity for parents, guardians and educators to see the array of books representing African-Americans and people of color. Those options have grown exponentially over three decades, according to the participating authors and illustrators. They include Tonya Bolden, Sharon M. Draper, Derrick Barnes, Tracey Baptiste, T.R. Simon, and Ronald L. Smith.

Free Black Panther Screenings
AMC Theaters nationwide
Feb. 1-7

Marvel Studios is offering free screenings of the six-time 2019 Oscar- nominated superhero film at participating AMC theaters in honor of Black History Month.

Set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, ruled by King T’Challa who moonlights as superhero Black Panther, it’s a tribute to the racial equality promoted by creator Stan Lee, who died last year.  You do have to sign up to see it, so keep in mind demand will be high.

To Kill A Mockingbird
Milford Senior High School
1019 N. Walnut St., Milford, Delaware
Through Feb. 10
$17

The classic 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Harper Lee has been a hit in all of its incarnations. A revamped adaption of the play written by Aaron Sorkin of “The West Wing” and “Newsroom” fame ﹘ and starring Jeff Daniels ﹘ is on Broadway. The Milford production is faithful to Christopher Sergel’s 1970 adaptation, which has become the standard in community theater.  This performance is being produced by Second Street Players. Their usual home, Riverfront Theater in Milford is being renovated.

“Fun Home”
Haddonfield Plays and Players
957 E. Atlantic Ave., Haddonfield, New Jersey
Through Feb. 16
$20 (discount performances available)

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, born and raised in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, wrote “Fun Home,” the graphic book about her experiences as a lesbian raised by a gay, closeted father.  The story inspired the musical ﹘ and the 2015 Broadway production was the first with a lesbian protagonist and went on to win four Tonys, including best musical. Bechdel is credited as the originator of the Bechdel Test, which measures the representation of women in fiction by asking if two female characters have a conversation in the work that does not include men.

Unbury Their Songs: Finding Your African-American Ancestors
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia
Feb. 6, 6:30-8 p.m.

Thanks to 23andme.com and ancestry.com, there’s more interest than ever before in tracing family history and backgrounds. But those sites are just where the search starts. Given the realities of the slave trade, finding information about your African-American ancestors can be challenging in the face of lost or destroyed records. This session will provide information on how to begin the process. Adrienne Whaley, president of the African-American Genealogy Group, will lead the discussion.  

Pennsylvania Made: Local Forms in the Collection
Center for Art In Wood

141 N. Third St., Philadelphia
Feb. 1, opening reception 6-8 p.m.
Exhibit through April 20
One of the more unique spaces in the Philadelphia artistic world, the Center for Art in Wood. showcases exactly that – art created out of wood. Curated by artistic director Jennifer Navva-Milliken, this exhibit brings together 100 pieces of the center’s comprehensive museum collection from local artists including Jay Brubaker, Linton Frank, Michael Koehler, Joyce McCullough, Amy Forsyth, Alphonse Mattia and Christopher Weiland.

Sarah Brightman
Tropicana Atlantic City
2831 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Feb. 2, 8 p.m.
$79 and up

PBS favorite Sarah Brightman is considered one of the top artists of the classical crossover genre. She’s touring in support of her new project,  “Hymn,” her 12th solo album. Brightman has at one time been No. 1 on Billboard’s dance and classical charts, the only artist to ever do so. She originated the role of Christine Daaè in “The Phantom Of the Opera” whose London production became the best-selling cast album of all time.

We Shall Not Be Moved: Songs From The Civil Rights Movement featuring Keith Spencer
Unplugged Sundays
James A. Michener Art Museum
138 S. Pine St., Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Feb. 3, 1-3 p.m.
Free, with registration

Baritone Keith Spencer is featured in the Michener Museum’s “Unplugged” series focusing on songs of the civil rights movement in honor of Black History Month. Spencer, who lives in Dresher, Pennsylvania, is a popular performer around the region, touring in national and regional theater, providing background vocals for acts in varying genres and launching “Brothers on Broadway” where he sings his way through the history of black musical theater performers. He also performs with Jump City Jazz Orchestra, billed as Philly’s hottest big band.

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