Robin Bloom offers a dozen suggestions for what to do this week.
“The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Bucks County Playhouse
Rebecca Feldman’s Tony Award-winning musical The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee takes to the stage at Bucks County Playhouse. The play about an eclectic group of six students competing for the spelling championship of a lifetime while candidly disclosing their funny and touching personal stories features a mix of veteran Broadway, television, film and local actors including Becca Ayers, Ryan Breslin, Colin Hanlon, Caitlin Houlahan, Katie Ladner, Maurice Murphy, Paul Pilcz, George Salazar, and Sumi Yu. Directed by Alexander Fraser through September 6, 70 S. Main Street, New Hope, PA. Photo by Mandee Kuenzle.
Mechanical Theater’s “Much Ado about Nothing”
Much Ado about Nothing, Shakespeare’s poignant tale of love, comes alive in the garden behind the historic Powel House, 244 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia. Presented by the independent theater company Mechanical Theater, whose mission is to create original works as well as classics that tie into a historic site, with the goal of encouraging support of the sites. Discover the Revolutionary war history of Powel House in a play about coming home from war, directed by Josh Hitchens, August 20-30. In the event of rain, performances will be moved indoors to the ball room. Photo courtesy of Mechanical Theater.
Summer Festivus at Franklin Square Park
Franklin Square Park hosts a Summer Festivus, Thursday, August 20, 4pm-10pm, with food trucks and an outdoor beer garden presented by Frankford Hall (beginning at 5pm). Admission is free with tickets required for Philly Mini Golf and the Parx Liberty Carousel, 7th and Race Streets, Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Historic Philadelphia.
Bootsie Barnes in Hawthorne Park
Catch tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes and his trio, Thursday, August 20, 7pm, in Hawthorne Park, 12th and Catharine Streets, Philadelphia. The performance is part of the Jazz in Hawthorne Park free summer concert series presented by Jazz Bridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting jazz and blues musicians in the Greater Philadelphia area. Bring lawn chairs and blankets!
“Religious Liberty and the Founding of America” at the National Constitution Center
Religious Liberty and the Founding of America, timed to coincide with the World Meeting of Families and the historic visits of Pope Francis and His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Philadelphia, opens August 21 at the National Constitution Center, exploring the role of religion in early America. The exhibit features 20 key documents from early American history that illuminate the role religion played in public life in the Founding era and shows how freedom of religion became a right guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See a copy of George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation (1789), printings of Washington’s Letter to the Roman Catholics in America, and Oaths & Declarations for Office, 1704 (pictured, courtesy of Seth Kaller, Inc.). Though Pennsylvania emphasized freedom of conscience, there was tension between Quaker and Anglican sects. Quakers refused to swear oaths that were considered mandatory to hold government office. Pennsylvania accommodated the Quakers with this document, signed by William Penn’s son, among others, showing Quakers agreeing to a separate affirmation, instead of an oath, to serve on the Provincial Council. On view through January 3 with discounted admission offered September 22-27, 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of the National Constitution Center.
Reel East Film Festival
The annual Reel East Film Festival brings independent and upcoming feature films and shorts to South Jersey with screenings of new and classic films, discussions, and more, August 21-23 at the Ritz Theatre. Opening film is the local horror feature Carver with South Jersey native and teen director Emily DiPrimio in attendance for a Q&A, Friday, August 21, 7:30pm, 915 White Horse Pike, Haddon Township, NJ. Presented by the Camden County Board of Freeholders and Rutgers-Camden Film Studies. Photo courtesy of the Reel East Film Festival.
Tyler Arboretum’s Butterfly Festival
Learn how to create a butterfly friendly habitat in your home garden at Tyler Arboretum’s Butterfly Festival, Saturday, August 22, 10am-2pm, as the monarch butterflies are tagged and released for their southern migration. Live and mounted specimens, games, crafts, and more, with regular admission, rain or shine, 515 Painter Road, Media, PA. Photo courtesy of Tyler Arboretum.
Chocolate and Vanilla Festival at Camden Children’s Garden
Camden Children’s Garden hosts the Chocolate and Vanilla Festival, Saturday and Sunday, August 22-23, 1pm-4pm, celebrating two of nature’s most flavorful plants. Vote for your favorite ice cream flavor, take a tropical smell test, enjoy crafts, educational activities, chocolate and vanilla treats, and be a scientist for a day, 3 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Camden’s Children’s Garden.
Cohansey Riverfest & Bridgeton Crabfest
The annual Cohansey Riverfest & Bridgeton Crabfest, celebrating the natural and cultural ecology of Cumberland County, New Jersey, features kayaking, artist competitions, food and craft vendors, live music and more, on Saturday, August 22, beginning at 10am, at the East Commerce Street riverfront, Bridgeton, NJ. Free admission. Cost of activities vary. Photo courtesy of the Cohansey Riverfest.
Star Wars Day at Please Touch Museum
Dress as your favorite character at Please Touch Museum’s Star Wars Day, Sunday, August 23, 12pm-3pm. Operate an R2D2 unit, enjoy a galactic dance party, play with iconic toys from the 1970s to today from the museum’s collection, plus art activities, character meet and greets and more, Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Please Touch Museum.
Ukrainian Folk Festival
The 24th annual Ukrainian Folk Festival celebrates Ukraine’s independence with ethnic dance, polka music, traditional food, crafts, children’s activities and more, including performances by the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Iskra Ukrainian Dance Company, violinist Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo, the Vox Ethnica Band, and more, Sunday, August 23, 12pm-8pm, at Tryzub, the Ukrainian American Sport Center, County Line & Lower State Roads, Horsham, PA. Photo courtesy of Tryzub.
Woodmere Art Museum’s “Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection”
In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, Woodmere Art Museum presents Biblical Art from the Permanent Collection, on view through October 18. The exhibit invites viewers to explore how the stories of the Bible have been interpreted by diverse artists working in distinct social and historical contexts to create images that express deeply felt faith and comment on contemporary issues. Artists include Paul Gorka, Anthony-Petr Gorny, Benton Spruance, and Walter Stuempfig, with varied stylistic approaches and media. Free related programs and events include a gallery talk “Contemplating the Divine in Art,” Sunday, September 20, 1:30pm, with Kathleen Szpila, Assistant Professor of Art History at Chestnut Hill College. Also, tours of the exhibit on September 23 and 30 and October 7 and 14, 2pm, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill. Pictured: The Piazza (date unknown) by Benton Spruance. Photo courtesy of Woodmere Art Museum.
Each week, the Entertainment Guide spotlights interesting local arts offerings happening now, including music, dance, theater, museums, special exhibitions and other arts events from across the region.
To submit an event to be considered, email Robin Bloom at email@example.com.