PW's Weekend Picks

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Friday, March 21

Avenue Q: School Edition
Avenue Q, the satirical take on life’s little anxieties as told through puppetry, has become a staple of contemporary musical theater. With so many of its staples touching on basic social issues, a show like Avenue Q can appeal—and has—to a younger demo than its content would suggest. And West Philadelphia’s innovative Project Arts isn’t afraid to tackle some of its rougher material.

Specializing in theater pieces and performance art that incorporates issues of the lives of real teens—such as gender identity, class, diversity, LGBT rights and drug use—Project Arts became an educational theater company when founding member Rich Wexler produced Rent: School Edition three years ago as an after-school project while studying at Drexel. By blending a multi-disciplinary approach to the craft of musical theater and their outreach to teens without access to theater materials, Project Arts provides young people with an opportunity to grow creatively while addressing the reality of issues within their communities.

For Avenue Q: School Edition’s third production, teen performers were given puppetry workshops to better manipulate their characters and improv training to explore the range of their characters’ personalities. It addresses the same issues as its racier Broadway counterpart, but with a milder tone. These kids aren’t shying away from controversial topics; they’re striving to understand them. And ensure their peers do, too. // KENNEDY ALLEN

Through Sun., March 30, various times. $10-$15. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
This acclaimed South Philly-based dance collective looked to the visual arts, Persian poetry and Hindu traditions for inspiration when crafting its newest production, Be/Longing: Light/Shadow. The meditative show will also feature music composed by Cory Neale. 8pm. $21-$35. Mandell Theatre, 33rd and Chestnut sts. 267.687.3739.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
In playwright Christopher Durang’s acclaimed comedy, movie star Masha returns home for an impromptu family reunion. Much to the surprise of her family, she brings her new boy-toy companion along, making for an unforgettable weekend. 8pm. $46-$59. Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad

Hang On: Marc Summers Returns
Aaron Nevins’ monthly talk show returns with guests Marc Summers, host of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare, and Ron Gallo, frontman of Philly’s own Toy Soldiers. A panel of some of the city’s best comedians will also be on hand to provide auxiliary laughs. 8pm. $5. Playground at the Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom St. 215.567.2848.

Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles in Text and Image
The Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania presents an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Brits’ invasion of America. The exhibit traces the iconography of the Beatles through a collection of autographs, memorabilia, illustrated books and more. Through Aug. 11. Van-Pelt Dietrich Library, 3420 Walnut St. 215.898.7088.

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.

Lil’ Steph presents Rasputin’s Room
Renowned burlesque performer Lil’ Steph and her ragtag band of dancing vixens encourage patrons of Ruba to engage in a night filled with carefree sin. Other dancers set to take the stage include Joey Martini, Cherry Bomb and Legs Malone. 9pm. $10. Ruba, 416 Green St. 215.627.9831.

Saturday, March 22

Shut Up and Dance
Twenty-two years ago, Pennsylvania Ballet’s dancers looked around at the state of their friends and their city, wondering how they could give back to Philadelphia—specifically, to combat HIV and AIDS. On their own time, with no promise or hint of getting anything in return, they choreographed and rehearsed a fresh, sexy and fun set of dance performances to raise funds for MANNA, the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance. All these years later, Shut Up and Dance has become one of the most anticipated and feel-good ticket buys of the year. 

This magically serendipitous connection between two organizations yields an annual celebration of dance while also collecting a huge pot of cash that goes to a much-need community. MANNA doesn’t just bring nutritious meals to sufferers of life-threatening cancers and illnesses—they bring hope. They bring smiles and encouragement to keep fighting. Often times, it’s more than a fight; it’s a war, something no one should have to endure hungry and alone. 

XPN’s Michaela Majoun will emcee tonight; PA Ballet’s Ian Hussey will act as producing director; the choreography of Colby Damon, Harrison Monaco and Alexandra Hughes will be featured, and a dance film project created by Harry Paris and Candice DeTore will get its due exposure. Not only will Shut Up and Dance treat you to a fantastic aesthetic feast, but you’ll be providing a dietary one to people who really need to know we haven’t forgotten them. // B.C.

8pm. $25-$100. Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St. 215.496.2662.

Philadelphia Youth Dance Fest
Tonight’s performance features more than 10 area companies, giving young dancers an opportunity to perform in a professional setting. The festival is designed to unite dancers from all different backgrounds and training in a combined performance celebrating their shared love of the medium.7:30pm. $15-$20. Painted Bride Arts Center, 230 Vine St.

8 Beers to Try Before You Die
The Wine School’s beer sommeliers took the liberty of conjuring a list of the eight brews they believe you must sample before you hit the Pearly Gates. Find out which delicious suds made the cut and try them for yourself at this featured tasting. 6pm. $56.98. The Wine School of Philadelphia, 127 S. 22nd

Women’s Power Lunch
Pathways to Independence presents an afternoon of food, networking and career development for women. PTI is an entrepreneurship-based organization for women who have survived domestic violence. 11am. $20-$200. The Enterprise Center, 4548 Market St.

World Water Day
Organized by Keiyo Soy Ministries, this morning walk starting at the Art Museum is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the Kerio Valley in northern Kenya. Proceeds will go toward providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene education. 9am. $15-$30. Martin Luther King Drive, 640 Waterworks Drive. 267.528.8285.

Would you be willing to part with your precious family heirloom for the right price? That’s the question playwright Theresa Rebeck asks in Mauritius. The Drama Group presents this show about what happens when cherished antiques passed down from generations turn out to be worth substantial amounts of money. 8pm. $15. First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown

Sunday, March 23

SundayFest! at Charlie Salon
The chic Washington Square West salon hosts an benefit for the Quince Productions theater group. Enjoy free admission, raffles and prizes, drinks and snacks from Hip City Veg and other local restaurants. 1pm. Free. Charlie Salon, 203 S. 12th St. 215.627.1088.

Goals for Giving
The Philadelphia Flyers Alumni team laces up their skates for some friendly competition benefiting the NHS Human Services Foundation. Former Flyers greats like Brian Propp, Bob Kelly and Joe Watson will participate in the skate. 1:30pm. $10. Flyers Skate Zone, 10990 Decatur Rd.


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