Celebrating Black History Month, Wanda Sykes, Freeze Fest, and the Philadelphia Ballet’s ‘Forward Motion’ in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

Feb. 2 - Feb. 5: African culture celebrated in Del., Wanda Sykes in Philly, and TruTV’s “Impractical Jokers” in South Jersey are among weekend event highlights.

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Wanda Sykes smiles in a portrait.

Comedian Wanda Sykes poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, Thursday, July 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Black History Month begins with celebrations and cultural events throughout the Delaware Valley. Winter festivals are on the schedule in Delco and in Manayunk, and Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Katori Hall’s acclaimed play “The Mountaintop” continues its run in the ‘burbs. But what’s better than one Pulitzer Prize-winning woman? Two. Vocalist and composer Caroline Shaw joins Sō Percussion at the Zellerbach on the University of Pennsylvania campus.

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Arts & Culture

The Mountaintop

  • Where: Uptown! Knauer Theater, 226 N. High St., West Chester Pa.
  • When: Through Sunday, Feb. 19
  • How much: $17 and up

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall is best-known for her hit Starz show “P-Valley” and for writing and producing “Tina: The Musical.” But before that, she became the first Black woman to receive an Olivier for Best New Play for “The Mountaintop.” It’s a reimagining of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last night at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Just after delivering his “Mountaintop” speech, he encounters Camae, one of the motel’s maids, and the two have a flirty interaction. But she’s not who she first appears to be. Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson originated the roles of King and Camae in “The Mountaintop” in its 2011 Broadway debut.

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First Friday: Vision & Spirit

  • Where: African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St.  
  • When: Friday, Feb. 3, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • How much: Free

The African American Museum in Philadelphia is celebrating the dawn of Black History Month with a special event. First Friday: Vision in Spirit celebrates the Bank of America collection of more than 100 works from paintings to mixed media from 48 African American artists. It’s one of the last chances you’ll have to see it before the collection leaves on Sunday, Feb. 19. While you’re there, you can also view AAMP’s permanent exhibit, “Audacious Freedom,” and its latest, “Beloved.”

Philadelphia Ballet: Forward Motion

  • Where: Perelman Theater, 300 S. Broad St. 
  • When:  Friday, Feb. 3 – Sunday, Feb. 11
  • How much: $50 and up

The Philadelphia Ballet continues its New Works series with “Forward Motion” featuring three new works by acclaimed choreographers Adonis Foniadakis, Hope Boykin, and resident choreographer Juliano Nunes. Danza award winner Foniadakis debuts “Circumstellars,” Bessie Award winner and Alvin Ailey dancer Hope Boykin presents “ENdure,” and Nunes’ “PS” will round out the performance. On Saturday, Boykin and Foniadakis join Philadelphia Ballet Artistic Director Angel Corella and moderator Dr. Miriam Giguere for a panel on the process of bringing a new work to the stage. It goes from 4 to 5 p.m.


9th Annual Freezefest

Billed as the biggest annual winter event in Delco, the ninth annual Freeze Fest brings music, food, and live performances to the county. Activities include axe throwing, a green legion tailgate party, a giant photo booth, and themed bars and ballrooms within the 30,000-square-foot event space. Cash and other prizes will be handed out to the winners of what organizers say will be the biggest beer pong and cornhole tournament in event history.

Founders Philly Freeze Out

  • Where: Main Street, Manayunk
  • When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • How much: Pay as you go

The chill is on in Manayunk this weekend when Founders Brewing and the Manayunk Development Corp. combine to host the Founders Philly Freeze Out. The family-friendly event includes food and drink specials, hourly live ice carvings, music and dance performances including a Lunar New Year Lion Dance, a fun run, and a separately ticketed chowder crawl. A free trolley to and from the UA Regal Main Street (where you can park for free) to the heart of the festival is running for the duration of the event.


Puppy Restore with Ripped PHL

  • Where: Ripped PHL, 1519 Walnut St. 
  • When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
  • How much: $30

Puppies! And yoga! If that sounds like an unbeatable combination for relaxation and joy, bring yourself and a yoga mat to Puppy Restore, an afternoon of stretching, meditation, and puppies seeking a forever home hosted by Ripped PHL. Bring your emotional fortitude, too, if you don’t want to take home a new family member. Proceeds from the event will go directly to Morris Animal Refuge.


Sō Percussion and Caroline Shaw

A group of people pose for a photo.
(Courtesy Penn Arts Live, Shervin Lainez)
  • Where: Zellerbach Theater, 3680 Walnut St. 
  • When: Friday, Feb. 3, 8 p.m.
  • How much: $29 – $54

Caroline Shaw is a Pulitzer Prize- and three-time Grammy-winning composer who’s recently added vocalist to her repertoire. She’s joining forces with Sō Percussion, who’ve crafted their own unique take on chamber music for the last 20 years. Sō Percussion has been the Edward P. Stone artists-in-residence at Princeton University since 2014, hosting an annual summer institute for composers and percussionists. Shaw and the quartet take the stage for a concert on the campus of UPenn this weekend.

Journey: Freedom Tour 2023

Don’t stop believin’! Journey lands in Allentown Saturday on their 50th anniversary tour. Not only has their signature song generated 7 million downloads in the modern era, last year the National Recording Registry deemed it a song with important cultural significance. Toto, also celebrating decades in music, joins them on the Freedom Tour, which stops in Allentown on Saturday.


Wanda Sykes

  • Where: Miller Theater, 250 S. Broad St. 
  • When: Friday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, 8 p.m.
  • How much: $49 and up

Actress/comedian Wanda Sykes is currently starring in “The Upshaws” on Netflix and providing commentary for “The Daily Show.” In her off-time she does a little stand-up comedy. A resident of Delco, where she reportedly lives with her wife and kids, Sykes will be in town Friday and Saturday to tape her next comedy special in front of a live audience.


A Celebration of African Culture

  • Where: Walnut St. YMCA, 1000 Walnut St., Wilmington, Del.
  • When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • How much: Free

The New Castle County Department of Parks and Recreation is acknowledging Black History Month with a kickoff event. A Celebration of African Culture includes performances by The Bayard School Borchestra, the University of Delaware’s Afrodisiac dance troupe, and the YMCA Essence Legacy drill team.

New Jersey

TruTV Impractical Jokers: The Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive Tour

Professional practical jokers Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulcano have taken the genre to new levels of popularity with their TruTv show “Impractical Jokers.” The group’s Drive Drive Drive Drive Drive tour rolls into the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion Friday night, but without Gatto, who’s going solo. But the squad says they remain amicable, so you may see Gatto on some shows as a guest star.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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