Local cabaret troupe the Bearded Ladies are about to set out on a mini tour around the city to bring their song-and-dance shenanigans to some of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS)’s beer gardens. There will be 14 performances from July 1st to July 19th, all split between two beer garden locales: 1438 South Street and 829 Wharton Street.
Their show is titled Bitter Homes and Gardens: A Botanical Hoedown, and it’s inspired by “those plant cabarets that your grandmama and granddaddy used to go to on a Saturday night.” I don’t know about you, but my grandparents never did any such thing, but the Bearded Ladies say the evenings will include the kinds of hoedown-centric songs and skits “that’ll have the whole crowd stomping their cowboy boots.” We’re talking drag queens with five o’clock shadows (and I’m guessing a bandana or two) strumming their banjos to some bluegrass and country favorites.
If you’re not familiar with the Bearded Ladies: First of all, I’m sorry. Second: They’re a local performance art troupe that have brought all kinds of unique shows to the city, works that blend drag and cabaret and pop art and history and lots of good music to tell stories that’ll make you think while busting a gut. Some favorite shows include Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, which included a Scarlett O’Hara-like character on stilts and wearing the biggest hoop skirt this side of the Mississippi; and crowds flock to Eastern State Penitentiary every July 14th to see them in the annual Bastille Day Celebration. There, the group’s founder, John Jarboe, traditionally shows up as the Little Sparrow herself, Edith Piaf. Jarboe also recently made history by becoming the first drag queen to perform at the National Constitution Center. (Check out that video below.)
Bitter Gardens should be a great time, and an exciting complement to your beer garden experience. Performances are pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation of $15-$20. For more information on dates and times, go here.