Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has already played Philadelphia four times, but the trek that was scheduled to continue around the globe has been postponed, with all dates rescheduled for next year. The piano-playing pop star is filling the gap with his classic concert series, with one show from his vast archive per weekend being shown in its entirety. This week it’s a date from Sydney, Australia, in 1986. Free with donations going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Available starting Saturday at noon on YouTube.
— Dan DeLuca
Unfollow the Rules is the title of Rufus Wainwright’s first outright pop — that is, not opera — album in eight years and it reaffirms the singer-pianist’s melodic gift and lyrical mix of barbed wit and forthright emotion. Wainwright has been playing Quarantunes mini-shows from his Los Angeles home since the pandemic began, and this one will be longer, as he performs the new album from start to finish. Saturday at 2 p.m. at ents24.com.
Think of this as a test run for the virtual Philly Folk Fest coming up in August. Winnipeg Folk is a long-running institution — it was founded in 1974 — that’s a key stop on the summer circuit. Due to COVID-19, it’s pivoted to a one-day event, with an impressive lineup: Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Courtney Barnett, Congolese electronic dance band Mbongwana Star, and Ukrainian folkies Dakha Brakha. The Philly connection is Lansdowne-reared guitarist Steve Gunn and KurtVile, the latter of whom will be playing with his Canadian buddies The Sadies. Saturday at 7 p.m. at winnipegfolkfestival.ca
Woody Guthrie is in style, with protesters scrawling lyrics to his song “All You Fascists” on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and “This Land Is Your Land” insisting, as ever, that America belongs to the many rather than the few. WoodyFest begins on what would have been his 108th birthday with a bill that includes Butch Hancock and John Fulbright as well as the folk singer’s descendants Arlo and Sara Lee Guthrie. It continues on July 18 and 19, with Mary Gauthier, BettySoo, Glen Hansard, and others. Tuesday at 8 at woodyfest.com.
A collaboration between indie venue World Cafe Live and educational nonprofit Mighty Writers, this event — subtitled “A Poetry and Music Virtual Release Celebration” — gathers students from Philadelphia schools to read and sing their poems and songs, chronicling their lives during the pandemic. Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at WorldCafeLive.com.
Tom Hanks returns to World War II (Saving Private Ryan, The Pacific, Band of Brothers) as a new Navy captain seeking to outmaneuver Nazi U-boats in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the frigid North Atlantic. Hanks also wrote the screenplay. From the book The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester. (Rated PG-13, available Friday Apple TV+)
— Howard Gensler
Director Leslie Woodhead’s documentary tracks jazz great Ella Fitzgerald’s rise, from her early novelty hits like “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” with bandleader Chick Webb in the 1930s, through to her prime as a genius scat-singer during the post-World War II bebop era and hugely popular interpreter of the Great American Songbook in the 1950s and 1960s. All the while, she sang with impeccable swing and unmatched exuberance. Critics Margo Jefferson and Will Friedwald and singers Patti Austin and Laura Mvula add insight. Streaming via the Philadelphia Film Society at ellafitzgeraldmovie.com/screenings.
A haunted-house thriller but instead of ghosts, we get dementia. (Trust me, that’s genuinely frightening.) Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin star as mother, daughter, and grandmother. Somebody’s losing it. Natalie Erika James directs this brisk 89-minute horror/drama. (Rated R, available Friday on demand and on streaming services.
Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez — Rucka wrote the screenplay — The Old Guard concerns a group of immortal mercenaries who must fight to protect their secret identities after their cover is blown. The international cast includes Charlize Theron, Kiki Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life of Bees, Love and Basketball). (Rated R, available Friday on Netflix.)
This “art house” entry is a highly acclaimed festival film based on the book The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond and directed by Kelly Reichardt (Night Moves, Meek’s Cutoff). The plot revolves around Oregon fur trappers, a cook, a Chinese immigrant, a get-rich-quick business start-up and a special cow. With John Magaro, Orion Lee, and René Auberjonois. (Rated PG-13, available Friday on demand and on streaming services.
For the first time since being closed because of the pandemic, West Chester’s Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center will host an indoor event, on Monday, a free screening of the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. After the film, the theater will show a 16-minute, prerecorded discussion between U.S. Rep. Lewis (D., Ga.) and Oprah Winfrey. Space is limited, reservations required (two-ticket limit), and masks must be worn throughout the event. Seating will be socially distanced. Details at UptownWestChester.org.
— Brandon T. Harden
Brittany O’Grady (Star, Black Christmas) stars as a talented singer-songwriter with a complicated life who’s afraid to sing her own material in a new series from Sara Bareilles and J.J. Abrams that features original music by Bareilles. Friday, Apple TV+.
— Ellen Gray
New monthly series from the team behind The Weekly launches with They Get Brave, a documentary about the experiences of doctors and nurses in New York City when it was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Each episode will premiere simultaneously on FX and Hulu. 10 p.m. Friday.
Holiday movies in the summer aren’t just for Hallmark. This marathon, from TV One, features some of the network’s originals, starting with Miss Me This Christmas. Noon to midnight Sunday, TV One.
The dystopian sci-fi series starring Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly presents its two-hour season finale. The drama about people riding out an ice age on a 1,001-car train is already scheduled to continue for a second season. 9 p.m. Sunday, TNT.
Former child actor Alex Winter (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”) wrote and directed this documentary, which looks at the lives of children and teens in show business from the perspectives of those who are trying to make it and some who have, including Wil Wheaton, Todd Bridges, Mara Jovovich. The film also features Jada Pinkett Smith who, along with husband Will Smith, is a parent to young actors. 9 p.m. Tuesday, HBO.
With live performance largely out of the picture, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is taking to the airwaves. He is host and curator of a new radio show, “This Week with Yannick,” that debuts locally Sunday on WRTI-FM (90.1). Each episode focuses on a different theme, like spirituality or hope. Nézet-Séguin explores his own artistic development in the first episode, which includes performances by the Vienna Philharmonic, Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Orchestra, Orchestre Métropolitan of Montreal, and Rotterdam Philharmonic. The eight-week show, a collaboration of WRTI and WQXR in New York, is slated to run locally on WRTI every Sunday at noon through Aug. 30. wrti.org and wqxr.org.
— Peter Dobrin
The long-running improv show Study Hall: Comedy Inspired by Lectures, in which lectures by Drexel University professor Michael Yudell and others are transformed into improv, has moved to Zoom. Weekly shows are at 8 p.m. Wednesdays. A Theatre Philadelphia Emergency Relief fund-raiser is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, featuring guests Tai Verley, Alice Yorke, and Liz Filios. Tickets are $10. Information and booking: studyhallshow.com.
The Philly branch of the national Dramatists Guild puts on a three-day Zoom festival this weekend with 22 mini-plays by 22 playwrights, spread over four sessions running about an hour apiece. The DG Footlights fest is free, for one session or all four. Among the titles: Bad Hair Day, Sauerkraut, Free as a Bird, Carolee’s Closet, and The Butcher of Treblinka. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus 2 p.m. Sunday. Details at dramatistsguild.com, under “Events.”
— Jane M. Von Bergen
Phoenix Theatre mounts a YouTube production of the bard’s charming summer romp through romance and gender swapping. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. It’s free to watch, with donations invited for the Black Lives Matter global network. Audiences can connect to the production via the theater’s website, thephoenixtheatrepa.com.