High school senior traditions have all but evaporated during the age of social distancing, but seniors will have a chance to experience a taste of prom — from home. MTV and When We All Vote, a national nonpartisan organization cochaired by Michelle Obama (along with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, among others), are teaming up to throw this year’s seniors a national virtual prom. Tune in to MTV on Friday for prom-themed programming all day. The virtual prom will stream live at 9 p.m. on MTV’s YouTube channel. Music, celebrity guest appearances, and live performances are all part of the mix.
— Brandon T. Harden
The traditional free concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol had to be canceled, but the broadcast goes on. Hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, it’s a tribute this year not only to the men and women of the armed forces and those who lost their lives in their country’s service but to those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and will include celebrity appearances and performances from around the country. 8 p.m. Sunday, WHYY12.
— Ellen Gray
Teaming with Philly-based live music streaming service Nugs.net, Main Line music venue Ardmore Musical Hall is rebroadcasting live shows from its recent past. A February 2019 show from rock-fusion band Tauk plays on Friday, and a Bob Marley birthday celebration from this year featuring Junior Marvin (“Police and Thieves”) airs Sunday. Yonder Mountain String Band is coming up May 29. Free, with donations going the AMH staff GoFundMe and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL fund. Friday and Sunday at 6 on Facebook Live.
This is the second installment of what aims to be a monthly fest put together by Dustbowl Revival, the eight-piece Los Angeles “roots orchestra” led by songwriter Zach Lupetin. Saturday’s lineup features The Mastersons, Lilly Hiatt, Pokey LaFarge, and The War & Treaty; Sunday’s includes Elana James of Hot Club of Cowtown, Leftover Cuties, A.J. Croce, and Valerie June. Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. on Facebook Live.
Piano pop maestro Ben Folds was on tour in Australia when the pandemic hit and has been quarantining there ever since. Every Saturday evening — Sunday morning in Sydney — he sets up his piano in his new apartment and takes requests, usually with a 10-minute interlude in the middle to give a quick piano lesson for kids. The shows serve as a reminder of how gifted a melody writer and playful, clever lyricist Folds is. Burt Bacharach covers are a bonus. Saturdays at 7 p.m. on Patreon and YouTube.
In January of 2019, the great tenor and soprano saxophone player Wayne Shorter canceled a three-night stand at SF Jazz in San Francisco due to illness. The jazz community responded with all three evenings filled in with guest headliners. The Shorter tributes are now going online. Next-generation sax hero Kamasi Washington plays with Terrace Martin on Friday, Herbie Hancock and Terence Blanchard will be joined by Martin on June 26, and Branford Marsalis and Blanchard team up on July 31. Tip jar proceeds go to Shorter’s medical expenses. Friday at 8 p.m. at sfjazz.org/watch.
This two-day “multistream transformational online festival” includes singer-songwriter John Butler, rapper Michael Franti, world music bandleader Nahko Bear, global roots ensemble Rising Appalachia, electro fusion group Beats Antique, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and scores more. The nine-stage fundraiser (for the artists and various COVID-19 relief efforts, the sponsors say) also makes room for motivational speakers and yoga instructors “unifying to promote a positive outlook in a world currently facing so many challenges.” Saturday and Sunday at noon at oneearthlive.com.
A group of women form the first military wives choir while their husbands fight in Afghanistan. Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Hogal star in a movie based on true events. Directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty). Rent or buy on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, free to stream for Hulu subscribers.
— Gary Thompson
Kumail Nanjiani reunited with The Big Sick director Michael Showalter for this new comedy. Nanjiani and Issa Rae star as a couple mistakenly implicated in a murder, a crime they realize they must solve themselves in order to clear their names. Available on Netflix.
— Gary Thompson
Celebrated at Sundance, this highly praised documentary is about Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova and her extraordinary pursuit of friendship with one of the men who stole her paintings from an art gallery. Available on Apple TV, Fandango Now, and Google Play. Also available via “virtual cinema” at the websites of the Ambler Theater, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, County Theater, Hiway Theater, and Philadelphia Film Society. Virtual cinema directs a portion of the box office proceeds to the theaters, shuttered during the pandemic.
Nothing says spring like fresh flowers. On Saturday at 1 p.m., Germantown’s Wyck historic house and gardens hosts a virtual tour of its rose garden on its Wyck House Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with a Wyck horticulturist leading the way. Wyck will also have rose plants available for curbside pickup. You can place an order on the website, at wyck.org/celebration-of-the-roses.
There’s not a whole latke going on during our three-month staycation. So why not learn to cook like a bubbe? This online festival of Jewish eats, running through Thursday, includes six online cooking classes. The main attraction: The Great Big Shabbat Cook-Along starting 1 p.m. Friday with famous foodies, including Philly’s own Michael Solomonov. Register at jewishfoodfest.org, where you can also download recipes.
— Howard Gensler
Julia Roberts has moved on. Now Janelle Monáe stars in the second season of the psychological drama, playing a woman who wakes up to find herself in a rowboat adrift on a lake and unable to remember how she got there, or who she is. Will she find answers with the Geist Group, the mysterious “wellness company” behind the Homecoming Initiative? (Friday, Amazon)
The already complicated story of Norma McCorvey, the real-life plaintiff whose attempt to get an abortion in Texas led to the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, gets even more tangled in this new documentary. McCorvey, who died in 2017, here delivers what she describes as her “deathbed confession.” McCorvey, who never actually had an abortion herself and later joined the antiabortion movement, appears to have had one last surprise up her sleeve. (9 p.m. Friday, FX. Premieres Saturday on Hulu.)
Philly’s Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) enters the socially distanced programming arena with this new episode of Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, the streaming workplace comedy that he created with Charlie Day and Megan Ganz. If you haven’t seen the show, whose cast includes Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, it’s worth trying Apple TV+ for a Memorial Day weekend binge to catch up. McElhenney stars as the egocentric creative director of a video game company whose latest innovation, unveiled before the pandemic, has turned out to be particularly ill-timed. (Friday, Apple TV+)
Looking to be swept off to a breathtaking wilderness without leaving the house? Try New France, the setting for the two-episode premiere of this limited-series adaptation of the 2016 best-seller by Annie Proulx. It follows indentured servants and their descendants, beginning in the 1690s. 9 p.m. (Monday, National Geographic)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Ron Chernow, whose book Alexander Hamilton inspired the musical Hamilton, are executive producers of this six-hour, three-night documentary miniseries about Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War general who went on to become president of a fractiously re-United States. (9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, History)
The Upper Darby native’s comedy special, taped in 2018, makes its debut on a free streaming service. (Monday, Tubitv.com)
The follow-up to the Australian comedian’s groundbreaking show Nanette is named after her dog, which is named after … well, you’re probably going to want Gadsby to explain that herself, along with a lot of other things. Trust me, no one explains Gadsby like Gadsby herself. (Tuesday, Netflix)
The cast of Star Trek: Voyager will celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary as they become the latest former costars to reunite for this web series to benefit the Actors Fund. Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley play hosts to Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres), Robert Beltran (Chakotay), Robert Duncan McNeill (Tim Paris), Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Ethan Phillips (Neelix), and Garrett Wang (Harry Kim). (8 p.m. Wednesday on the Stars In The House YouTube channel or on starsinthehouse.com)
HBO Max, the new streaming service from WarnerMedia, goes live on Wednesday, bringing with it all of HBO’s content, plus some new shows and many old favorites, including, yes, Friends. Among the first wave of new shows as it launches is Love Life, a romantic-comedy anthology whose first season stars Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick as Darby. The season follows Darby over the course of several years, with each episode covering a different significant relationship in her life. Premiere includes the first three episodes. (Wednesday, HBO Max)
As society struggles with how to memorialize the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yo-Yo Ma will do so musically. The cellist plays all six of Bach’s cello suites Sunday at 3 p.m. from the studios of WGBH in Boston. The concert will be carried live on WRTI-FM (90.1) and will stream live on Yo-Yo Ma’s YouTube channel.
— Peter Dobrin
Yes, we know that dog videos, inexplicably, draw viewers. So, check out the character of Crab the dog in Lantern Theater Company’s reading of the Shakespeare classic, 7:30 p.m. Friday via Zoom. It’s free to watch, but a donation is requested and registration required through Lantern’s website, lanterntheater.org. You can download a script to follow along.
— Jane M. Von Bergen
On Friday night, South Jersey’s Masquerade Theatre Co. presents Proof. The company was just beginning rehearsal of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, about caring for elderly parents and being stuck in life, when the shutdown made it extra relevant. The two-act play, shown live via Crowdcast, requires registration, and it’s pay-as-you-wish. Chat and other interactive activities begin at 7:30 p.m., showtime is 8 p.m., and there’s a 15-minute intermission. Details on the company website, masqueradetheatre.org.
Philadelphia actor Chris Davis explores the heart of darkness in one hour of high-octane movement, sound, dance, comedy, and drama, backed by the soundtrack of the movie. His solo show streams live from his living room 8 p.m. Wednesday on Instagram @1drunklion and Facebook @ChrisDavisPhilly. Pay what you can after watching for free. Directed by Mary Tuomanen, with sound design by Adriano Shaplin.
Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) stars as Blanche DuBois in this 2014 version of the Tennessee Williams drama staged at the Young Vic in London. Ben Foster is Stanley Kowalski, the role made famous by Marlon Brando, and Vanessa Kirby is Stella. Directed by Benedict Andrews. Watch through May 28 on the National Theatre At Home’s YouTube Channel.
This fundraiser for No Kid Hungry pairs leading actors and writers creating new short plays on a specific topic — this weekend, it’s “sustenance.” Performers include Mary Louise Parker in a work by Bryna Turner and Zachary Quinto in a work by Adam Bock. The donation levels start at $10 at homeboundtheater.org and the project, now streaming, continues until 7 p.m. Sunday.