Cultural carnivals, Aretha tribute, Philly Home Show, and more in this week’s ‘Things to Do’

An Aretha tribute, Kanaval, and Rennie Harris’ “Lifted” are among the weekend events in New Jersey, Philly, and Delaware.

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File photo: Singer Aretha Franklin performs at the Fashion Group International's 30th annual

File photo: Singer Aretha Franklin performs at the Fashion Group International's 30th annual "Night Of Stars" awards gala at Cipriani's Wall Street on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Spring returns this weekend and with it comes a full events slate in the wake of what we hope was the apex of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week includes new plays, live music performances, and a major home design show at the Convention Center.

James and the Giant Peach

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The musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1961 classic children’s book has its final performances at Delaware Children’s Theater this weekend. The fanciful story of 7-year-old orphan James Henry Trotter’s adventures with a giant peach and the bugs that inhabit it became a TV production and then a Disney movie in 1996. In 2013, it was adapted as a stage musical that was an instant hit and is now a staple in children’s theater.

  • What: Stage play
  • Where: Delaware Children’s Theater, 1014 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, Del.
  • When: Saturday, March 19, Sunday, March 20, 2 p.m.
  • How much: $16 – $20

Philly Home Show

If you understand the finer points of shiplap vs. reclaimed wood, have a Pinterest board filled with Scandi minimalism and know your pocket doors from your barn doors, then the Philly Home Show should be your destination this weekend. It takes place over the next two weekends, offering the full gamut from home decoration to home renovation and experts and vendors to help with all of it.

  • What: Home expo
  • Where: Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St.
  • When: Friday, March 18, noon – 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday, March 20, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday, March 25 – Sunday, March 27, same times
  • How much: $3 – $10

“Watch What Crappens” 10th Anniversary Hunky Dory Tour

Bravo, if you remember, used to be a channel that celebrated classical music, arts and culture. Apparently, that wasn’t as profitable as the reality TV that now brings in far more viewers through its “Real Housewives” franchise. Ben Mandelker and Ronnie Karam’s “Watch What Crappens Now” podcast has poked fun at Bravo’s over-the-top shows for the past ten years. You can see Ben and Ronnie live on their Hunky Dory tour this week.

  • What: Live podcast
  • Where: The Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St. 
  • When: Thursday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.
  • How much: $35

“Carroll County Fix” – Azuka Theatre

(Azuka Theatre)

Playwright Val Dunn says that the impetus for writing her play was the rapid ‘surbanization’ of a Maryland community and how it impacted the town’s residents. “Carroll County Fix” centers around documentary filmmaker Tess who hopes to use her film about Carroll County to leave the town behind, and what happens as she and her best friend, Rach, try to collaborate. The play, put on by Azuka Theater, which brings non-traditional stories and actors to the stage, encompasses queer and coming-of-age themes while taking on the paradoxes of small-town life from a comedic viewpoint.

CultureFest! Nowruz

(Courtesy of Penn Museum)

The Persian New Year is being celebrated in Philadelphia at the Penn Museum’s Culturefest! Nowruz. Nowruz falls on the first day of spring, which this year will be March 20 at 11:33 a.m. The holiday is celebrated by 12 countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It includes food, music, and familial gatherings. A Middle East drumming workshop, a bazaar, storytelling and performances from the Silk Road Dance Company and the Turkish American Friendship Society of US Choir are scheduled.

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  • What: Cultural celebration
  • Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South St.
  • When: Saturday, March 19, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • How much: Free with museum admission

Kanaval Ball 

Haitian Carnival or Kanaval is an integral part of the culture of the Caribbean island. To honor that rich tradition, a local celebration is taking place at the Fillmore Philadelphia. Performances by Boukman Eksperyans, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Nadia Dieudonné and Feet of Rhythm are scheduled and you can also expect Haitian food, decor and drink. Costumes are encouraged.

  • What: Cultural celebration
  • Where: The Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St. 
  • When: Sunday, March 20, 4 p.m.
  • How much: Free with advance registration

Tribute to Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul

Karen Clark Sheard and Damien Sneed (Kimmel Center)

Multi-talented musician and educator Damien Sneed toured with Aretha Franklin for many years. Now he’s paying tribute to the late soul icon with the help of gospel singer Karen Clark Sheard. A powerful vocalist in her own right, Clark Sheard is a four-time Grammy winner whose family, the groundbreaking Clark Sisters were profiled in a Lifetime movie “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” produced by Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige.

Rennie Harris: Lifted

(Annenberg Center)

Hip hop choreographer Rennie Harris brings his latest, “Lifted” to the Annenberg Center for its Philadelphia premiere. The founder of Puremovement American Street Dance Theater is celebrating his 30th anniversary. According to press materials, “Lifted” is the story of a young Black man whose church family guides him from “trouble to triumph” through movement and music.

  • What: Hip-hop theater production
  • Where: Penn Live Arts, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts,  3680 Walnut St. 
  • When: Friday, March 18, 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19, 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
  • How much: $29 and up

Kennett Symphony: Reimagined Symphony

The Kennett Symphony performs at the Open Air Theatre stage (photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

Kennett Symphony doesn’t believe a classical concert experience has to be buttoned-up and stuffy. So in their “Reimagined Symphony”, the audience is seated right around the orchestra. And the venue is Longwood Gardens, making the performance even more accessible. Serving food and drinks throughout doesn’t hurt, either. Music director Michael Hall oversees performances of  Pergolisi’s “Sinfonia” from “L’Olympiade” and Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella Suite.”

Buyer & Cellar

What if Barbra Streisand had a fake mall in the basement of her home, well, mansion? Turns out, she does and it was inspired by a similar space at Wilmington’s Winterthur Museum. In a cheeky play inspired by Streisand’s real-life faux mall, “Buyer and Cellar” tells the story of Alex, a fictional retail associate who is its sole employee.

Sisterhood Sit-in: The Trolley Tour

Harriet’s Bookshop is among the surviving Black-female-owned businesses in Philadelphia that made it through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. To support other local Black-female-led businesses that remain, the bookstore is hosting a tour that encourages attendees to visit and support five of them, Harriet’s included.

  • What: Cultural promotion
  • Where: Starting at Harriet’s Bookshop 258 E. Girard Ave.
  • When: Saturday, March 19, noon-2 p.m.
  • How much: Pay as you go

Sam Weber Trio

Canadian-born singer/songwriter Sam Weber released his second studio album “Get Free” just last month. The multi-instrumentalist started his career as a pre-teen in his family’s living room in a band with his late father and brother. Since then, he’s committed to his craft by writing, playing, touring, and releasing indie projects. Weber is believed to be one of, if not the youngest, musician to be featured in “Guitar Player Magazine.” He comes to Philly as a trio  – with girlfriend Mallory Hauser and Danny Austin-Manning, both talented musicians in their own right.

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

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