Winter Wonderland Returns to Headhouse

Courtesy of South Street Headhouse District

Courtesy of South Street Headhouse District

South Street Headhouse District released details today about its annual holiday hoopla at the Shambles — complete with a tree and menorah lighting, Santa on a fire truck and a holiday market for gift hunters.

Winter Wonderland will take place on Sunday, December 6th. The festivities begin kind of late in the afternoon: at 3 pm with the Headhouse Holiday Market, where local vendors will set up booths with handmade goods and food and drink from area restaurants. At 4:30 pm, organizers will make history by lighting a menorah on location for the first time ever.

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REVIEW: Matilda: The Musical at the Academy of Music

Photo by Joan Marcus for Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.

Photo by Joan Marcus from Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.

Is a show like Matilda: The Musical too big to properly tour?

That question was definitely on my mind last evening after I left the performance at the Academy of Music. The touring Broadway musical has come a long way since, say, the first national tour of Cats, which pretty much employed a strand of Christmas tree lights on the stage and called it a “set.” But at least that set worked.

Last evening’s Matilda was plagued with technical malfunctions throughout the performance, including one that literally stopped the show during act one, causing an announcer to broadcast that the set was having difficulties. The other major malfunction took place during the climax of the show. I won’t give the plot away, but the moment was supposed to involve a piece of chalk magically writing a message on a board. Let’s just say the chalk stopped working. Read more »

Winterfest Kicks Off With Storm Troopers Thanksgiving Weekend

Original photo by Matt Stanley.

Original photo by Matt Stanley.

If you were bummed you had to miss the kids-only Star Wars Day at Please Touch Museum a few months ago, cheer up. Bluecross RiverRink Winterfest (aka the frosty version of Spruce Street Harbor Park) is kicking off Thanksgiving weekend with its own Star Wars-themed bash featuring storm troopers and other bad-guy characters from the franchise. They’ll be at the event from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, November 27th, courtesy of the 501st Legion Garrison Carida, a local organization dedicated to “re-creating film-quality costumes of the ‘villainous’ characters of the Star Wars galaxy.”

I asked — with my fingers crossed — if storm troopers will actually slip on skates and hit the ice. “I wish,” said Delaware River Waterfront Corporation rep Emma Fried Cassorla. “We’re going to at least try and get them out on the rink to pose for photos.” Read more »

Justin Bieber Adds Second Philly Show to Purpose World Tour

“Due to overwhelming demand,” reads a press release sent out by concert promoter AEG Live, Justin Bieber has added a second show date to his Philly stop at the Wells Fargo Center next May. In addition to his already-scheduled May 7th performance, he’ll return for another go-round on May 8th.

The pop star is touring in support of his fourth studio album, Purpose, that dropped November 13th. The tour will take him to nearly 60 cities around the world, including an extra semi-local stop at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on July 15th. The last time Bieber performed at the Wells Fargo Center was during his 2012-2013 concert tour, when he performed three shows in a span of nine months.

Tickets go on sale for general public on Friday, November 20th at 10 a.m. at See the full list of tour dates here.

PHOTOS: Meet the Adorable Baby Red Pandas at Philadelphia Zoo

Photographer HughE Dillon did us a solid this morning by going to the Philadelphia Zoo to take photos of the two brand new baby red pandas. Today was the first time the yet-to-be-named furballs have been set free in their sanctuary, in full sight of the public. They were born in June to 5-year-old parents Spark (mom) and Basil (pops). I’m going to stop typing now so you can look at the pictures. Gets your awwwwwwws ready:

Up until today, the mother has been caring for the cubs. I’m told they are super active, and are currently able to eat a diet of fresh bamboo, grapes, apples and biscuits on their own. When they are old enough, the cubs will move to other institutions to breed with other red pandas.

Similar to the social media campaign they held in 2014 to name their new lion cubs, the Zoo is encouraging fans to chime in about what the cubs should be named. To put in your two cents, visit their Facebook page here, or email

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Firefly Music Festival Announces 2016 Lineup

Firefly Music Festival 2014 | Photo by Jeremy Asa via Flickr

Firefly Music Festival 2014 | Photo by Jeremy Asa via Flickr

I know the last thing you’re thinking about right now is next spring, but Dover, Delaware’s insanely popular Firefly Music Festival dropped some news today that could get you in the early-planning spirit. This morning on Twitter, they posted the lineup for the 2016 festival, taking place June 16-19. Headlining musicians include Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine, Kings of Leon and soooo many other bucket-list acts.

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BalletX Opens 10th Anniversary Season With Nicolo Fonte’s Beasts

Nicolo Fonte and BalletX dancers rehearse a scene from "Beasts." | Photo courtesy of BalletX

Nicolo Fonte and BalletX dancers rehearse a scene from “Beasts.” | Photo courtesy of BalletX

It’s less than a week to go before opening night of BalletX’s tenth season and the company’s 10 dancers have just been dismissed for a lunch break after doing a run through of the second half of Nicolo Fonte’s new work, Beasts. The ballet explores the tension between man’s primal and civilized impulses. Sitting on a sofa in the lounge at the company’s rehearsal space, the Performance Garage at 15th and Brandywine streets, Fonte munches on a slice of pizza and discusses his evening-length world premiere commissioned by BalletX.

Fonte, a Portland-based New Yorker, has been in Philadelphia working with the company’s dancers since October 5th. But the 80-minute work, which explores what makes us who we are, our biology or the society we live in, has been in the works for more than a year with the choreographer carefully crafting an eclectic soundscape of music including work by Henrik Schwartz, Pete Townshend, Pink Martini, Patti Smith and Claude Debussy.

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Red Panda Cubs Debuting Tomorrow at Philadelphia Zoo


Not the actual red panda cubs at Philly Zoo. Photos will be released after their debut. | Matthieu Photoglovsky via

Two red panda cubs that were born this summer will get their grand debut tomorrow morning at the Philadelphia Zoo. At 10:30 am on November 18th, zoo keeps will bring out the little guys, who were born to 5-year-old parents, Basil and Spark. So far, the cubs — one boy and one girl — don’t have names.

The Zoo couldn’t be more thrilled about the new members. Reps say that red pandas, which are found in the Himalayas, have been classified as vulnerable because of loss of habitat, fragmentation, poaching and climate change.

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PHOTOS: Hezekiah Jones Album Release Party With Lauryn Peacock

Photos by Chris Sikich

Photos by Chris Sikich

Last Saturday, Philly-based folksters Hezekiah Jones served up some aural enjoyment to a loud and receptive Ardmore Music Hall crowd. Playing an album release show for their new LP In Loving Memory of Oosi Lockjaw, they reveled in the new and the past. Leader Raphael Cutrufello switched between guitar and keyboards and even gathered around the microphone with Kiley Ryan and Brad Hinton for acoustic, matters-of-the-heart folk. An extended drumming jam by Daniel Bower was even added in for good measure. All in all it was a great showcase for a local treasure.

Opening was another treasure that once called this area home (but now resides in Nashville) — Lauryn Peacock. Playing with a new band, the keyboard and guitar folk ballad virtuoso brought her 2015 work Eupohonia to life. Grand, glorious and extremely catchy, her new and old works were a welcome rumination before the antics of Hezekiah Jones. Photos from the evening below:

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