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Museum music, Morris Arboretum at home and dance for all in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

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Philadanco

Philadanco at the 32nd Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance in Philadelphia. (Scott Robbins)

In virtual bloom

The Morris Arboretum is closed despite all the wonderful things blooming inside. But this week, it launched its “Learn from Home” series that offers online classes to gardeners, birdwatchers and more. The series helps bring the garden home to the people who love it, while remaining compliant with Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order. You can sign up here for the classes, which include ones on gardening and birding. The arboretum has stepped up its other online offerings, which now include virtual tours of the grounds, storytime for kids, and both a video playlist of gardening tips and a music playlist of songs that plants like, including ones from Stevie Wonder, John Lennon and David Byrne.

Delaware’s watch parties

The Delaware Art Museum is offering a host of online activities for children and parents. Its “Glory of Stories” storytelling program has moved online for four recorded programs available until June 1 via the museum’s Facebook page. A version of the program without video will feature a work of art from the museum’s collection with a suggested art activity and an accompanying book. The museum is also hosting a Friday night live “Watch Party” concert with varying musicians each week via its Facebook page. The audience is invited to interact with each other and the musicians during the 20-minute concerts. Parties begin at 6:30 p.m. Up next are: bass guitarist Rob Swanson on May 1, algorithmic improviser William Fields on May 8, singer/songwriter Jea Street, Jr. on May 15 and pianist Jeff Knoettner on May 22.

Graham on the ‘gram

Philadanco was celebrating its 50th anniversary on tour in Germany when the troupe had to return home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped it from dancing. It’s been using its Instagram page to continue showcasing its talents. Philadanco company member Janine Beckles is doing more than that. Every Tuesday at 1 p.m., she’s teaching a Graham technique class on Instagram Live. The class is suitable for all ages and abilities.

Opera on the couch

You may not be able to head to the opera house, but you can still enjoy the opera. Opera Philadelphia debuts its new series “Philadelphia Opera (from the Couch)” as part of its first Digital Festival O. The festival kicks off on Friday, May 1, with the digital debut of “Denis & Katya,” which originally premiered in last year’s Festival O19. The award-winning opera will stream on Friday, May 1, at 8 p.m. via the Opera’s YouTube channel, with successive operas debuting on Fridays at that time through the rest of the month. The lineup includes “The Barber of Seville” on May 15, and “Breaking the Waves” on May 29.

Check out the Opera Philadelphia trailer here.

Broadway @ home

The Great White Way is currently dark, but there’s some good news. Broadway stars have taken their talents online and are curating fan experiences through Broadwayplus.com, which allows fans to have personal interactions with their favorite stars. You can arrange an online meet-and-greet, a video message, a virtual lesson or casting coaching session, and even create a group event with the participating Broadway actor or actress of your choice. It comes at a cost, depending on the experience you choose, but it’s a way to connect with Broadway when you can’t – at least for now – do so in person.

Virtual Arden

The Arden Theater has responded to COVID-19 like many other performing arts institutions by moving to online programming. In its case, plans are in the works to make its arts education for children and adults virtual as well as showcase past performances like “My General Tubman,” which ran through March. What’s online now is a guided exercise called “Let’s Move,” a 30-minute guided activity for elementary-age children and their parents. There are visual and written prompts, which should help any homeschooling parent shepherd their children through the lesson.

Penitentiary lessons

One of the thorny human rights issues during the pandemic is how to handle people incarcerated in jails where COVID-19 is proliferating. Eastern State Penitentiary takes on this topic with twice-weekly programming on the impact of the coronavirus on the prison system. Hosted by Eastern tour guide Marney Penn, the videos will be posted every Tuesday and Thursday with updates on how the criminal justice system is handling the crisis. Its monthly livestreamed “Searchlight” series, which focuses on issues of incarceration, will now stream weekly. And every Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. on its Facebook page, tour program supervisor Matt Murphy leads a virtual tour of Eastern State’s hospital block with a new theme every week.

Stories with Michelle

Michelle Obama was once the nation’s first lady and among one of the most popular to hold the position. As one of her platforms as FLOTUS was girls’ education, it’s no wonder PBS sought her services to entertain kids who are marooned in quarantine. Michelle will be reading a story for kids from pre-K to elementary every Monday at noon through the month of May on PBSkids.org. Next up are “Miss Maple’s Seeds” by Eliza Wheeler on May 4, and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle on May 11.

Check out the Netflix trailer here.

Make the call

This weekend, artists, musicians, actors, community leaders and more — including our own Questlove of the Roots, Julia Roberts, Yo-Yo Ma, Josh Groban and Deepak Chopra — will converge to encourage others to give to the COVID-19 cause. Each participant will ‘answer the call’ in their own way by performing, speaking, leading a prayer or telling a story. “The Call To Unite” will livestream around the world for 24 hours, starting on Friday, May 1, at 8 p.m. on multiple sites including unite.us, Facebook, Twitch, LinkedIn and YouTube. Check out the trailer here.

More murals

Mural Arts has started its Homeschool with Mural Arts program, airing videos twice a week with local artists. These artists have created arts lessons and tutorials to engage and inspire the children they would normally reach in person. New ones air on Mondays and Wednesdays via the Mural Arts website and on YouTube. In addition, there are downloadable resources for parents and children on its website and a virtual tour, “Murals on the Fly,” of the murals around Philadelphia (done by drone) with narration by Mural Arts staffers and Philadelphia personalities.

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

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