Soon enough, all of us chubby, hairy, COVID-19 hibernators will emerge from our burrows, wrinkle our noses at the sun, and get on with things, masked and socially distanced in our new-normal ways. But first, six more weeks of winter. Here are 40 arts and entertainment highlights to get you from Groundhog Day to the first days of spring.
Groundhog Day (9 a.m. to midnight Feb. 2, AMC). The feeling that we’re all reliving the same day, ad infinitum, has only intensified over the dragged-out course of the pandemic. The 1993 Harold Ramis/Bill Murray classic both captures that state of mind and hilariously provides insight into how to endure — Ned Ryerson? Bing! — and possibly even improve.
Firefly Lane (Feb. 3, Netflix). Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke star as BFFs Tully and Kate in a series based on Kristin Hannah’s decades-spanning best seller. Come for the 1980s flashbacks and Tully’s Samantha-like approach to life and love, stay for Chalke’s performance as the endearing but not uncomplicated Kate. And, yeah, one of these women may or may not be the wind beneath the other’s wings.
Strange Fruit: A Digital Excerpt (streaming in February from Philadanco). Company dancer William E. Burden will perform the Strange Fruit solo from the longer work, New Fruit, by Philadanco artist in residence Christopher Huggins. The free stream, part of the Kimmel Center’s Black History Month celebration, was reworked for an outdoor location and filmed in June in West Philly’s Saunders Park. Find it on the Kimmel Center and Philadanco websites and social media. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Molly Sweeney (streaming through Feb. 14, Lantern Theater filmed play). The blind protagonist’s life is full, but her husband insists she undergo a risky operation to restore her sight. Inspired by Oliver Sacks’ essay To See and Not See, playwright Brian Friel intertwines the couple’s perspectives with those of a surgeon who values his skills over his patients. (215-829-0395, lanterntheater.org)
Stitch-In: Make Elizabeth Dorn’s Gown (Wednesdays, Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24, 7-8:30 p.m., Museum of the American Revolution). Participants in the virtual artisan workshop will learn about fashion history and how to make a short gown (a type of jacket) based on the one on display in MAR’s exhibit, “When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807.” Elizabeth Dorn’s short gown prompts us to ask whether Dorn, a free black woman, was among America’s first women voters. (215-253-6731, amrevmuseum.org)
Black History Month Virtual Workshops (Wednesdays, Feb. 3,10, 17, 24, 12:30 p.m., African American Museum in Philadelphia). On Feb. 3, Tuskegee in Philadelphia — Rising to the Challenge offers a brief history of Black men and women in aviation. The Feb. 10 workshop focuses on literacy using comic book art and the tradition of the griot, or storyteller. West Philadelphia’s Theatre in the X leads the Feb. 17 installment. Feb. 24′s topic is hip-hop and jazz musicology. (215-574-0380, aampmuseum.org)
Unseen at the Mütter (Feb. 5 to Sept. 30, Mütter Museum). Most of the Mütter’s collection of specimens and oddities are not accessible to the public. This new exhibition features images by renowned forensic photographer Nikki Johnson, who takes visitors into the Mütter’s myriad storage rooms and behind-the-scenes spaces at the bottom of dark stairwells. Her photos will be displayed with the physical objects they depict. The Spit Spreads Death exhibition also continues, chronicling the flu pandemic of 1918-19. (215-560-8564, muttermuseum.org)
Malcolm & Marie (Feb. 5 on Netflix and screening now at Ritz Five). A Hollywood director (John David Washington) returns from a boffo premiere to spend an evening with his girlfriend (Zendaya), but what should be a night of celebration unravels as troublesome relationship issues gradually surface. Topics could include: What is Spider-Man’s high school girlfriend doing with a guy in his mid-30s? Zendaya, though, is actually 24, which by movie industry standards means she’s approaching middle age. She has shown her range on the HBO series Euphoria, written and directed by Sam Levinson, who also created Malcolm &Marie.
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HotHouse Shorts (premiering Feb. 5-26, Wilma Theater). When the pandemic struck, the Wilma kept its HotHouse Company actors on payroll to experiment with alternative forms. The four resulting digital projects roll out sequentially on Feb. 5 (Code Black Planet), Feb. 12 (Clay), Feb. 19 (Expired), and Feb. 26 (The Lagniappe Project). All free. Then stay tuned for Wilma’s much-anticipated Fat Ham, by Philadelphia playwright and Wilma Co-Artistic Director James Ijames, expected to release digitally sometime in late March. (215-546-7824, wilmatheater.org)
The Equalizer (Post-SuperBowl Feb. 7 on CBS, moving to 8 p.m. Sundays the following week). Queen Latifah stars in a reimagining of the 1980s vigilante drama that starred Edward Woodward. She’s Robyn McCall, a former CIA operative and single mother who’s secretly working to bring justice to the oppressed. Or as she puts it, “I’m the one you call when you can’t call 911.”
Clarice (10 p.m. Feb. 11, CBS). Rebecca Breeds (Pretty Little Liars) steps into the role that won Jodie Foster her second Oscar in this TV series spin-off of The Silence of the Lambs. The story picks up a year later, in 1993, when young FBI agent Clarice Starling is forced back into the field to help investigate another series of grisly killings.
Sin Eaters (Feb. 11-28, Theatre Exile). Award-winning playwright Anna Moench explores the life of a character who, through her tech job as a “content moderator,” must monitor social media for violent, sexual, and disturbing imagery and in doing so, loses her grip on reality. Presented virtually by Theatre Exile. (215-218-4022, theatreexile.org)
“Pink Planet” from Pink Sweat$ (Feb. 12, pinksweatsmusic.com) The long-awaited debut album from the South Jersey- and West Philly-raised R&B balladeer is finally ready to arrive. Pink Planet features the hit single “At My Worst” and is timed to coincide with the crooner’s own Valentine’s Day birthday. Also on Feb. 12, he’ll perform a live stream with his full band.
Judas and the Black Messiah (Feb. 12 in theaters and on HBO Max). Ryan Coogler produced this Oscar hopeful, which tells the true story of an FBI informant (LaKeith Stanfield) who infiltrates the Black Panther Party and helps build a case of dubious legal merit against party leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). Martin Sheen is civil-liberty-bulldozing J. Edgar Hoover.
Save the Boys (streaming Feb. 12-May 31). Scored for countertenor and piano, this new work by Tyshawn Sorey, Opera Philadelphia’s composer in residence, is inspired by the 1887 poem of the same name by abolitionist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. The film features countertenor John Holiday and pianist Grant Loehnig. (215-732-8400, operaphila.org)
Crayola IDEAworks: The Creativity Exhibition (Feb. 13 to July 18, Franklin Institute). There’s not a crayon in sight for this venture into the creative process, but there is color and light aplenty. Also puzzles, problems, and entire environments, all stitched together by interactive installations that take visitors from the floor of the sea to the wastes of Mars. Visitors will encounter environmental and astrophysical challenges and brainstorm to overcome them. (215-448-1200, fi.edu)
Rembrandt Revealed (Allentown Art Museum, through May 2). New exhibit focuses on Portrait of a Young Woman (1632) a recently conserved work that has long been in the museum’s collection. Acquired as a Rembrandt, then demoted 50 years ago to “Workshop of Rembrandt van Rijn,” it has recently been reattributed as the work of the master. The show concentrates on its conservation. (610-432-4333, allentownartmuseum.org)
Young Rock (8 p.m. Feb. 16, NBC). Not to be confused with Young Sheldon or 30 Rock, this new sitcom from Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh off the Boat) and Dwayne Johnson focuses on Johnson’s formative years, with different actors portraying him at 10, 15, and 20 years old. The 48-year-old star himself is also scheduled to appear in every episode, according to NBC.
Tibet House Benefit (Feb. 17, mandolin.com). The musical lineup for the Dalai Lama-associated benefit is loaded. Organized by Philip Glass, the virtual concert event features Iggy Pop, Patti Smith (and her daughter Jesse Paris Smith), the Flaming Lips, Eddie Vedder, Brittany Howard, Phoebe Bridgers, Angelique Kidjo, Laurie Anderson, Valerie June, Tessa Thompson, and (no relation) Chocolate Genius’ Marc Anthony Thompson.
I Care A Lot (Feb. 19, Netflix movie). This dark comedy received dazzling reviews when it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. A con artist (Rosamund Pike) gets a job as a court-appointed guardian for the elderly, a position she uses to fleece her aged clients of their assets, with the help of a small army of crooked physicians and lawyers. It’s a lucrative scam until she targets a woman (Dianne Wiest) who turns out to have a few criminal allies of her own (including Peter Dinklage).
Jonathan Lyndon Chase: Big Wash (through June 6, Fabric Workshop and Museum). The Philadelphia-based artist’s first museum show evokes the uneasy intimacy of the laundromat. Chase, who explores black and queer themes, has designed and made new fabrics for the exhibition. (215-561-8888, fabricworkshopandmuseum.org)
Paul Taylor Dance Company (Feb. 18, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts). The famous New York company, now led by Philadelphia-trained artistic director Michael Novak, will be dancing its first performance since the pandemic shut things down last March. The program, livestreamed from the Annenberg stage, will include Arden Court, set to William Boyce’s baroque score, and the Philadelphia premiere of A Field of Grass, an ode to the 1960s. The company will take questions from the home audience afterward. (215-898-3900, annenbergcenter.org)
Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America (Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m., the Free Library of Philadelphia). Michael Eric Dyson’s most recent book discusses the lives and legacies of five contemporary Black martyrs as catalysts for America’s voyage toward a racial reckoning and redemption. He talks about it a virtual author appearance with historian Jon Meacham. (833-825-5357, freelibrary.org, more Black History Month events at freelibrary.org/blackhistorymonth)
Nomadland (Feb. 19 in select theaters and on Hulu). The Oscars have been pushed back to April 21, and when the ceremony is finally held, expect to hear this movie mentioned a lot. Academy Award winner Frances McDormand stars as a woman who leaves her dying Nebraska town and hits the open road in a beat-up van. Directed by Chloé Zhao, who, as she did in her wonderful movie The Rider, mixes actors with actual people. (Apologies to Ms. McDormand, who’s probably real herself).
Studio K.O.S. The Continuing Legacy of Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival (Wexler Gallery, by appointment through March 20). Last summer, a group of Philly high school students enrolled in a virtual program led by Studio K.O.S., the influential ‘80s South Bronx collective. The students developed work torn (literally) from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The exhibit pairs early works by K.O.S. founder Tim Rollins and the original Kids of Survival with a digital installation of the students’ work. (215-923-7030, wexlergallery.com)
Jane Irish (Locks Gallery, by appointment Feb. 23-March 27). Irish’s paradoxically beautiful new “Tapestry Paintings” address atrocities committed by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. They’re inspired by letters given to her by Scott Moore, an organizer of the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation event, where soldiers testified about war crimes they had seen. With paint and fabric, Irish creates narratives that borrow images of pain and suffering from masterpieces like Caravaggio’s The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. (215-629-1000, locksgallery.com)
Cherry (Feb. 26 in select theaters, streams March 12 on Apple TV+) Tom “Spider-Man” Holland and Marvel Cinematic Universe refugees Joe and Anthony Russo (directors of the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame movies) take an excused absence from the world of superheroes. This significantly more realistic drama is about a war vet (Holland) who comes back from Iraq with PTSD and a drug addiction, and starts robbing banks to support his habit.
Adam Wallacavage: After Forever (Hot•Bed, by appointment through March 6). The rain forest-meets-’60s cocktail lounge environment at horticulturist/interior designer Bryan Hoffman’s gallery/showroom is the ideal backdrop for Wallacavage’s latest whimsical octopus-inspired chandeliers. Curated by James Oliver, who owns the gallery upstairs. (215-923-1242, jamesolivergallery.com)
Black History Untold (Feb. 27 at 5 p.m., African American Museum in Philadelphia). AAMP partners with journalist and mediamaker Sofiya Ballin for a screening and discussion centered on Ballin’s latest Black History Untold installment. This year’s theme is an exploration of Black love, and features several noted artists and influencers. (215-574-0380, aampmuseum.org)
Carmen Suite with the Philadelphia Orchestra + Brian Sanders’ JUNK (March 4-11). Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin’s 45-minute take on Carmen, from 1967, lifts themes from Bizet’s opera and reworks them into a quirky, colorful suite for strings and five percussionists. Here, the Philadelphia Orchestra returns the piece somewhat to its dance roots — Shchedrin created it for a one-act ballet — in a collaboration with Brian Sanders’ JUNK. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the online presentation. (215-893-1999, philorch.org)
Coming 2 America (March 5, Amazon Prime Video). Before Wakanda, there was Zamunda. In the movies, anyway. In the 1988 original, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) journeyed from the fictitious African nation to the states while looking to avoid an arranged marriage. Murphy reprises his role in this sequel, which finds him back in Zamunda, where he learns that he fathered a son (and potential heir to his throne) while in the U.S. Arsenio Hall returns, Leslie Jones, Wesley Snipes, and Tracy Morgan join the cast.
Raya and the Last Dragon (March 5 in theaters and on Disney+ premier access). In this animated Disney fantasy, a young woman (Vietnamese American actress Kelly Marie Tran) from the mythical Southeast Asian kingdom of Kumandra strives to defend her land against the rise of an ancient evil by summoning the last living dragon (Awkwafina). Written by Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) and screenwriter/playwright Qui Nguyen (Vietgone).
Soutine/de Kooning: Conversations in Paint (March 7-Aug. 8, Barnes Foundation). This is the season’s major art exhibition — and the sort of international collaborative show that has all but disappeared in the age of COVID-19. Organized with the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, it brings together about 45 works by the Lithuanian-born Paris artist Chaim Soutine and the Dutch-born New York artist Willem de Kooning. Both artists liked to lay the paint on thick. The show seeks to trace more direct influences by Soutine on de Kooning’s work. (215-278-7000, barnesfoundation.org)
74 Seconds … to Judgment (March 8-21, Arden Theatre.) Arden’s 2019 production earned stellar reviews. Now it’s back — as a streaming audio play by Kash Goins, directed by Amina Robinson. The audience listens as six jurors, deadlocked for over a week, struggle to decide what is “justifiable homicide” in the shooting of an unarmed Black person by a white person. (215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org).
“Chemtrails Over The Country Club” from Lana Del Rey (March 19, Interscope). Del Rey’s 2019 album Norman F— Rockwell capped a decade in which the artist formerly known as Lizzy Grant went from being a suspected one-hit wonder -— for 2010′s viral smash “Video Games” — to becoming one of the most acclaimed artists of her time. Pitchfork has proclaimed her to be “one of America’s greatest living songwriters.” The auteur of sun-bleached California noir aims here, with her sixth album, to live up to that reputation.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19, Disney+). Six-episode miniseries set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes place after Avengers: Endgame and deals with the further adventures of Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stans).
BalletX Beyond (March 10, BalletX). Each installment of the Philly company’s filmed world premieres has become a national event in dance. This next program will feature premieres by Maddie Hanson, a young Canadian choreographer; Stephanie Martinez, who founded a Chicago-based company during COVID-19; and Gustavo Ramirez, who is from Spain and has choreographed for many companies. (215-225-5389, balletx.org)
Five Inches Apart (No. 5 Butchie Alley, by appointment through March 28). Tiger Strikes Asteroid collective member Terri Saulin, a sculptor, is showing works she has collected recently, displayed 5 inches apart on the walls of her former garage behind her South Philadelphia house, now a pristine gallery space. The group show is a who’s who of Philly artists. (215-906-0897, terrisaulin.com)
HopeBoykinDance (March 11, Annenberg Center). Boykin spent her early career dancing in Philadanco before many years with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She will present a world premiere — Redefine US, from the inside OUT. — dancing alongside five others on the Annenberg stage to an empty venue. The performance will be livestreamed, with an interactive Q&A afterward. (215-898-3900, annenbergcenter.org)
Violinist Miriam Fried and pianist Jonathan Biss (March 24-27). Chemistry between musicians is highly variable even without any other complicating factors, but this Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital comes with a formidable one. Fried and Biss are mother and son. They have performed together before, but not in Philadelphia since 2013. The program includes Debussy, Janacek, and Mozart’s alternately exuberant and ethereal K. 526 Sonata for Violin and Piano. In-person tickets are sold out, but the concert will be available online for three days. (215-569-8080, pcmsconcerts.org)
Godzilla vs. Kong (March 31, in theaters and streaming on HBO Max). A movie monster GOAT smackdown, wherein the two creatures battle each other as conspiratorial forces work to destroy mankind. How big is this movie? If you type g-o-d into your browser, you get Godzilla vs. Kong instead of “God.”
Events selected by Dan DeLuca (pop music), Peter Dobrin (classical music), Ellen Dunkel (dance), Ellen Gray (TV), Brandon T. Harden (street art and author talks), Edith Newhall (art galleries), Thomas Hine (art museums), Stephan Salisbury (science and history museums, and libraries), Gary Thompson (movies), and Jane M. Von Bergen (theater).
And be on the lookout for these blockbuster albums …
Surprise releases are now an unsurprising marketing practice at record companies. These big-name releases have been rumored, hoped for, and hinted at for the early part of 2021.
Adele. Will it be called ... 31? Each of Adele’s three previous mega-selling albums — 19, 21, and 25 — was named after the age of the powerhouse English vocalist at the time she began work on it.
Kendrick Lamar. It’s been four years since the Compton rapper released DAMN., an album that was unjustly bypassed by the Grammys but did snag a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize.
Drake, Certified Lover Boy. Judging by the title, the Canadian superstar would seem to be set to wholly embrace his romantic rapper persona on his first official album since 2018′s Scorpion.
Rihanna. It’s been a full five years since the singer’s genre-blending Anti-, and her star power has remained undimmed as she’s busied herself conquering the fashion and fragrance world. A massive audience awaits.
St. Vincent. Guitarist Annie Clark has said there is a “tectonic shift” between the angular synth-pop of 2017′s Masseduction and her new music, which “has the color palette of the world of Taxi Driver” and “Gena Rowlands in a Cassavetes film.”