Arts & Culture

SOUL FIREWORKS: Wawa Welcome America Festival heats up the Fourth of July with a concert honoring Philly natives Boyz II Men and featuring performances by The Philly POPS, Mandy Gonzalez, Tony DeSare and the neo-soul superstar Mary J. Blige 7-9:30 p.m. July 4 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit

AMERICAN IDOLS: Pop-superstar boy band New Kids on the Block is back on the road this summer with its Total Package Tour, with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men along for the ride. The fun hits Philly 7:30 p.m. June 24 at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, call 215-389-9543.

One of my favorite authors, Mark Twain, once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Sharon McNight is insanely talented and has so much LGBT cred, it’s daunting. After making her Broadway debut in 1989 in “Starmites” (as Diva, no less), the singer, actor, comedy writer and scholar (the latter skill set developed at City College of San Francisco and Yale University) performed leading roles in touring productions of “Nunsense” and “Hello, Dolly!” She has been caricatured by Al Hirschfeld, was written about in Randy Shilt’s book “And The Band Played On” and has been an honorary chair of the San Francisco AIDS Emergency Fund and as grand marshal of San Francisco’s Pride parade.

Another year and another comedian is taking to the stage at Philly Pride to bring mirth and merriment to an environment that isn’t the ideal for standup comedy. But if you’re out comedian, actor and self-described badass Sandra Valls, you rise to the occasion with assured grace and confidence.

Since 2003, Tribe of Fools has been Philly’s most breathlessly athletic and kinetic assayer of incendiary theater. The troupe has tackled tales of sexual identity, power dynamics, gender position, neighborhood politics and family. Going beyond movement and dance into karate and aerobics as an illustrative (often-violent) tool to make its radical point, the group — led by artistic director and board vice chair Terry Brennan — has touched on everything from questions of machismo in South Philadelphia (2011’s “Heavy Metal Dance Fag”) to gay Mummers (2014’s “Two Street”), all for FringeArts. Now with gay director Jack Tamburri, Brennan tackles his first one-man Tribe show and first non-Fringe gig in “School Play.”

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