Calendar: March 26-April 2

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Wednesday, March 26

Rock on Philly
Local songstresses unite to demonstrate the everlasting power of women in music at this showcase presented by Rock on Philly in celebration of Women’s History Month. Catch Tara Hendricks, Victoria Watts and CC Davis singing their hearts out onstage. 8pm. $8-$10. Milkboy, 1100 Chestnut St.

What Shakespeare Watched
Shakespeare wrote some of the greatest plays of all time, which raises the question: Which plays inspired him? Widener University Professor Annalisa Castaldo will attempt to provide an answer by delving through history and analyzing the works of Elizabethan playwrights that came before him, including Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe. 6pm. Free. Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St. 215.686.5322.

Thursday, March 27

Wanda Sykes
This sister’s not one to pull punches—Wanda Sykes has spent years slugging it out in the arena of Telling It Like It Is. And much to the delight of standup fans everywhere, a decade after Entertainment Weekly named her one of the “25 Funniest People in America,” the comedienne/writer/actress shows no signs of changing course anytime soon.

The Hampton University grad rolled the dice on a comedy career after delighting a major showcase audience, a move that led Sykes to New York, where she scored a gig opening for Chris Rock at Caroline’s. Duly impressed, Rock invited her to join the writing team for HBO’s way-too-brief The Chris Rock Show. There, while toiling alongside fellow funny folk like Louis C.K., Lance Crouther, Ali LeRoi and Steve O’Donnell (creator of David Letterman’s iconic “Top Ten” list), Sykes and the Chris Rock squad earned several Emmy Award nominations, winning one. But while most of her colleagues stayed behind the scenes to earn their stripes, Sykes was stealing scenes in sketches, too.

Her prowess with both the pen and the mic earned her not only kudos, but also the opportunity to showcase that comedic flair in other ways—including two seasons of the hilarious, underwatched Wanda at Large. Opposite her prickly-blowhard foils, played to perfection by Phil Morris and Ann Magnuson, Sykes got to simultaneously brandish and burnish her comedic acting chops, setting the stage for what’s been an impressive career on TV and film since—New Adventures of Old Christine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the animated Ice Age blockbusters, standup specials galore, et al—and eventually, her own short-lived, late-night talkfest. Appearances on Kevin Hart’s Real Husbands of Hollywood and the Amazon original series Alpha House have kept watchers in stitches more recently, while her outspoken activism on behalf of her fellow gays seeking marriage rights has given her standup routines a new, passionate edge. Expect Sykes—the first openly gay American to host the White House Correspondents Dinner—to bring that abrasive brilliance to the Keswick stage. // KENNEDY ALLEN

7:30pm. $48-$98. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. 215.572.7650.

Nicole Atkins
The term “old soul” is often thrown around willy-nilly, but singer/songwriter Nicole Atkins truly embodies a voice from a past generation. Atkins’ croons sound more like the Ronettes or Roy Orbison than any contemporary, for which she has plenty of thanks to give the state of New Jersey. Growing up a stone pony’s throw away from the local music mecca of Asbury Park, the Neptune, N.J.-born and raised firebrand has drawn immense influence from her surroundings. This included a chance encounter with the indelible one, The Boss himself, at a Jersey benefit gig. Springsteen and Atkins chatted for hours, with the former dishing out some savvy advice. By the end of their conversation, Atkins had Bruce’s personal contact info. Attempting to self-produce and release her third LP, Atkins reached out to the man—and Springsteen personally posted her PledgeMusic link on his Facebook page, boosting her album budget to $50,000. The result is Slow Phaser, released in February to critical acclaim.

The hypnotic Atkins has flirted with mainstream success before, dropping her debut, Neptune City, in 2007 on Columbia. Though the album was revered by critics, Atkins didn’t reach the stardom the label had hoped, and the two went separate ways. With Slow Phaser, she seems primed to finally break through, aided by a summer on the road with the venerable Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds for a leg of their U.S. tour, including the Philly date in July. Tonight, she headlines at JB’s. // DANIEL GELB

9:15pm. $12-$15. With Arc Iris + Davey Horne. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

Dish It Up 2014
The Women Against Abuse organization hosts its annual “Dish It Up” event, giving female restaurant owners the chance to serve up purple-hued delicacies in the name of an excellent cause. A new “Women of the Year” award will also be handed out to those demonstrating a strong passion in taking a stand against domestic violence. 6pm. $95. WHYY Studios, 150 N. Sixth St.

On Finding Ben Franklin
If Philly-based raconteurs The Savage Detectives are to be taken seriously, Benjamin Franklin was the Elvis of his time: He supposedly died and was laid to rest, but someone with a very similar personality has been present at several important milestones throughout American history. The group will combine music and narrative storytelling as they embark on a journey to trace Franklin’s passage through time. 7pm. $10-$20. Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St. 215.925.1695.

An Evening of Improv Comedy
The current incarnation of the nationally renowned Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe—whose most notable alumni include Amy Poehler and Anchorman director Adam McKay—brings its comedic A-game to World Cafe for what’s sure to be a night of side-splitting laughter. 8pm. $15-$17. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.

Friday, March 28

Flaherty on the Road
Aside from being a creative genius, documentary film pioneer Robert Flaherty sure knew how to pick a bride. Not only did his beloved Frances contribute to his visionary film projects during Flaherty’s brilliant career; after becoming a widow in 1951, the Academy Award-nominated writer continued to keep her late husband’s artistic legacy alive and thriving via the creation, four years later, of the Flaherty Film Seminar. Lady Flaherty gathered a group of talented filmmakers, writers, curators and composers at the family Vermont farm to commune over their mutual passion for the medium—a tradition that’s since morphed into a weeklong summit welcoming 160 film and art professionals, academics and enthusiasts to screen, dissect and discuss innovative new works. And for the film and video artists whose projects are featured as part of Flaherty on the Road, a traveling tour of the films shown at the previous year’s confab, there’s an added benefit than exposure to discerning audiences: The Flaherty gives them 50 percent of the income derived from distributing their films.

A two-night stop in Philadelphia is next for Flaherty’s 2013 collection, curated by Pablo de Ocampo, executive director of Toronto’s Images Festival. Program One, dubbed “Political Memory,” features three short films: Farther Than the Eye Can See, directed by Basma Alsharif; Sirah Foighel Brutmann and Eitan Efrat‘s Printed Matter; and Bete & Deise by Wendelien van Oldenborgh. Jean-Paul Kelly’s Movement in Squares and Figure-ground form the centerpiece of the second evening’s program, which features four shorts. // KENYA BEVERLY

March 28–29. Various times. $7-$9. International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut St. 215.387.5125.

TEDx Workshop of the World
TEDxPhiladelphia presents this daylong, multidisciplinary conference aimed at fostering intelligent thought and new ideas. Leading industry professionals, speakers and performers will be on hand for the day of short talks, which will be simulcast online. 9am. Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad St.

Joe Conklin & the City All-Stars of Comedy
Touted as a man of a thousand voices, Philadelphia radio jockey Joe Conklin—known for his dead-on vocal impersonations of Barack Obama, Cole Hamels and Charles Barkley—will give a performance tonight, along with a handful of local comedians, to benefit the Abington Police Athletic League. 8pm. $25. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave. 215.572.7650.

Always Bet on Youth Casino Night and Gala 2014
Try your luck at gambling tables run by professional dealers at this annual fundraiser that seeks to help more than 1,500 homeless and foster children in their start to build new lives for themselves. Visitors will also be treated to a silent auction and live music. 6pm. Free. Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District, 400 Arch St. 888.595.3868.

Passyunk Square Civic Association Art Auction
South Philly artisans will display their assorted wares—utilizing a multitude of media—made exclusively for this art party featuring sweet deals, a raffle and complimentary craft beer and wine. 7pm. $10-$15. Annunciation Hall, 10th and Dickinson sts.

What Ever Happened to the Red Army Faction?
Beginning in the 1970s, the Red Army Faction was the preeminent left-wing militant group in all of Europe, committing acts of violence that led to more than 30 deaths. J. Smith, who edited two volumes of history on the topic, will lead a discussion that will also touch on other German guerrilla organizations from that time period. 7:30pm. Free. A-Space Anarchist Community Center, 4722 Baltimore Ave. 215.821.6877.

Saturday, March 29

Eats and Beats
Eating healthy these days is often more expensive than eating crap—and the crap is omnipresent in easily-accessible corner bodegas. Sure, some Philadelphia neighborhoods boast credible grocery stores; others at least benefit from occasional produce trucks within walking distance or a short SEPTA ride. Still, indulging in nutrient-free meals and snacks loaded with saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup and reckless amounts of sugar has become the norm for many. Striving to turn this beat around, the grassroots Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI for short) brings fresh veggies—and a fresh perspective—to the table in a continuous effort to change what’s in our cupboards. Its staff works collectively in 20 schools throughout Philly, consistently introducing students to fresh,  nutritious, locally grown produce and inspiring them to seek—and even help create—better food options for themselves and their families.

For the fifth year, UNI’s hosting its annual Eats & Beats fundraiser, designed not only to showcase their young charges’ literal and figurative fruits of labor, but also collect monies to send themselves to educational conferences, farm trips and leadership training. Your donation for entry includes entertainment by Takia McClendon and Babel, plus a locally sourced, organic four-course meal prepared and grown by the program’s teenaged interns. Come see them demonstrate how beneficial—and delicious—educating the community can be. // K.A.

5:30pm. Suggested donation: $25. Mantua Haverford Community Center, 631 N. 39th St.

3rd Annual East Coast Beard and Mustache Competition
Growers from all across the Eastern seaboard bring their facial hair to show off in Philly. Participants will be judged in more than a dozen categories, including something called “Partial Beard Freestyle,” so expect weirdness to reign supreme. 8pm. $19. Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011.

Back on My Feet 5-Miler
Whether you’re looking to stay in shape for the Broad Street Run or participating in your first race, the Back on My Feet 5-Miler is here. Proceeds will benefit Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit organization committed to helping the homeless regain their independent footing. 8am. $25-$40. West River Drive. Register online at
PPAC Book Fair 2014
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center kicks off its 5th annual two-day book fair, featuring a bevy of local, national and international publishers, as well as artist and author presentations. Noon. Free. Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St. 215.232.5678.
The Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse welcomes spring with its seasonal playground opening party: Children 10 and younger can enjoy sports, hands-on science, treats, crafts and much more at this great outdoor event. Noon. $10. Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive.
Not That Nice Drink and Draw Party
Artists Alex Eckman-Lawn and Kate Glasheen close their exhibit Not That Nice with a night of drinking, music and drawing. Guests can bring current work or create something new with the help of some friendly libations. 7pm. Free. The Art Dept, 1638 E. Berks St. 215.739.4146.

The Wedding Singer
This summer will see Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starring in Blended, their third film together. But before that happens, join the Chestnut Hill College Music Department as they perform the musical adaptation of The Wedding Singer, about two people who are both engaged to be married to the wrong people. 8pm. $5-$12. Chestnut Hill College, 9601 Germantown Ave. 215.753.3707.

Big Band Swing Dancing
The Philadelphia Swing Dance Society sponsors this shindig featuring live music by the Walt Wagner Big Swing Band. Beginners can attend an instructional class before the party starts. 7pm. $15-$40. Commodore Barry Club, 6815 Emlen St.

Philadelphia Funny Songs Fest
Comedy and music converge during Philly Funny Songs Fest. The night begins with a happy-hour mixer, followed by a comedy music marathon of more than 25 musicians dishing out their side-splitting adult humor songs, including a performance by Art Institute of Philadelphia alum Jessica Delfino. 8pm. $5-$15. Third and Girard, 1176 N. Third St.
Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq
Returning home to Philadelphia from Iraq, Don Juan finds that his lover is missing and embarks on a surreal mission to find her. The play is the newest offering from Pulitzer Prize-winning Paula Vogel and Wilma Theater Artistic Director Blanka Zizka. 8pm. $17.50-$35. The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. 215.546.7824.

Playright and Philadelphia native Ginger Dayle examines the fractured psyche of John Hinckley, Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate a newly-elected President Ronald Reagan in March of 1981. 8pm. $25-$30. Adrienne Theatre Main Stage, 2030 Sansom St. 215.567.2848.

Sunday, March 30

Johnny Clegg + Jesse Clegg
It must be really rad growing up with a legendary national treasure as your dad. That’d be Johnny Clegg, Jesse Clegg’s father, mentor and hero. For a majority of his childhood in South Africa, young Jesse was on the road, watching music mastery in motion and learning pretty much every instrument at his fingertips, eventually writing songs in earnest. To be sure, father and son have decidedly different styles: Johnny specializes in world music and Jesse in a more straightforward, guitar-based indie rock. Jesse’s got two LPs and a third in the works, and on this tour, he’s supporting Big Poppa for a few shows—including tonight.

It’s unclear how they’d interact onstage, as their music’s completely different: Dad’s very much a precursor to Paul Simon-meets-Ladysmith Black Mambazo while junior specializes in Stereophonics-meets-Kenny Wayne Shepherd. In fact, the slightly bluesy and serious guitar rock of the younger Clegg sounds distinctly not African in origin. Could be because he’s recorded extensively in Toronto (via Tool/Muse producer David Bottrill), but this is his first American tour outing as he attempts to reel North Americans in to his ‘90s-flavored grunge-tinged sentimental rock a la Fuel and Dishwalla. Tonight’s a wonderful chance to catch intergenerational international rock lineage on full display, a charming and rare vestige of musicianship encouraged by and handed down from one talented father to his son. // BILL CHENEVERT

8pm. $28-$42. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400.

Fishtown Chili Cookoff
Fishtown restaurants and residents face off in the 4th annual neighborhood cookoff, organized by the Fishtown Neighbors Association. See if Sketch Burger can defend their title from last year, while enjoying samples and beer from PBC. 1pm. $15-$18. The Skybox, 2424 E. York St.

Mistaken For Strangers
Documenting the most recent tour by the National and their rise to success, Mistaken For Strangers gets a screening at the Troc. Following the film will be a Q&A with filmmaker Tom Berninger and his brother Matt Berninger, singer of the National. 7pm. $13. Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St.

Monday, March 31

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
The youngest woman ever to be elected to the Florida state legislature, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses her book For the Next Generation: A Wake-Up Call to Solving Our Nation’s Problems. She will be joined in this discussion by Ed Rendell. 7:30pm. Free. Central Library, 1901 Vine St.
The Magnificent Seven Part II
Free For All Comedy presents this showcase of seven of Philadelphia’s burgeoning comedians. Aaron Hertzog and Alison Zeidman host the evening, including a set by 2011 Philly’s Phunniest award winner Tommy Pope. 8pm. $7. Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St. 267.639.4528.

Tuesday, April 1

The Absinthe Drinkers Early Late-Nitey Talky Show
Steampunk musicians the Absinthe Drinkers host an evening of burlesque-themed dancing, visual performances and a special performance from a surprise guest. 9pm. Free. Bob & Barbara’s, 1509 South St. 215.545.4511.

Building Philadelphia: Digging in the City of Brotherly Love
Rebecca Yamin, PhD, talks about the fragments of historic Philadelphia, as part of the CFA’s 10-part lecture series. Her research delves into the demolished pieces of Philadelphia’s colonial beginnings. 6pm. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St.

Wednesday, April 2

Mourning Becomes Electra
Quintessence Theatre concludes its fourth season with Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, a retelling of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, and like that ancient Greek drama, it is divided into thirds, chronicling the fall of a wealthy family as its secrets of the past threaten those in the present. Quintessence is presenting all three parts, digging out all the incest, adultery, murder and savage wit of O’Neill’s Mannon clan.

The human drama of a family battling among itself mirrors how America responds to war and the homecoming of its soldiers, and Quintessence has stretched the years between each of the play’s parts to allow a broader discourse on the subject in the context of the Civil War, World War II and the Korean War. (Indeed, the play runs approximately four hours and 10 minutes, with two 15-minute intermissions.) The challenge of such a huge production doesn’t deter director Alexander Burns. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he tells PW. “The play has never been done in Philadelphia and only four times in New York. It’s one of the greatest American plays ever written, and I think people avoid it because of its scale.”

For Burns, who has loved Mourning Becomes Electra since he was a teenager, this is a dream project. It wasn’t originally slated to be one of Quintessence’s first stagings, but now, Burns says, they are ready to tackle O’Neill’s epic. “It’s the right time. We have an incredible cast. You get to go on three totally different adventures through the course of one evening.” // JARED AXELROD

Through April 27. $15-$25. Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival Karaoke Kickoff
What goes great with cherry blossoms? Your bad singing! Yakitori Boy hosts this karaoke kickoff to get the bloomin’ fun underway: Admission gets you three drink tickets, sushi, yakitori and a guaranteed karaoke slot. 7pm. $25-$35. Yakitori Boy, 211 N. 11th St.

Cocktails with City Chefs
Join Philly’s finest chefs for this intimate networking event, where chefs will dish out personal stories. The event includes an appearance and talk with R2L owner and chef Daniel Stern. 5:30pm. $10-$20. R2L, 50 S. 16th St.

Out of Town

American Women Poets in Song
Lyric Fest presents this celebration of Women’s History Month and Poetry Month with an homage to American female poets in song. Original compositions and readings will be on display, featuring a number of local and national talents. Fri., March 28, 7:30pm. $20. Goodhart Hall at Bryn Mawr College, Yarrow St. at Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr.

Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil
The wonder of Cirque du Soleil is paired with the King of Pop’s electrifying discography in this immersive performance. MJ’s hits get a new artistic rendering during this show, featuring 60 international acrobats and dancers. Sat., March 29, 8pm. $45-$150. Sun National Bank Center, 81 Hamilton Ave., Trenton, N.J. 609.656.3200.

Villains & Vixens
The Twisted World presents this years’ convention, Villains & Vixens, a unique multi-genre music, art, film and cosplay weekend. Catch Philly’s own the Dead Milkmen, along with dozens of other bands, vendors and panels. March 28-30. $40-$80. Double Tree by Hilton, 301 W. DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia.

Multi-platinum female rockers Heart channel their 1970s success with another tour across the nation. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson last released an album in 2004 and were part of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class. Sat., March 29, 9pm. $67-$98. Caesars, 2100 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City, N.J. 609.348.4411.

Compiled by Jake Abbate and Daniel Gelb

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