Arts & Culture

Philadelphia Black Pride is having a birthday!

The organization, created to celebrate the rich history and resilience of black and brown LGBQT folks is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a long lineup of special programs and parties to commemorate the event and the 2019 Penn Relays.

Many of the events are programed categorically. Under the heading of “Cooperative Economics,” PBP will launch a special pop-up boutique featuring men’s spring wear, and accessories from Armour. The season’s hottest fashions will be shown with live models all afternoon.

Based on his sharp memoir-manifesto “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves,” out comedian Ryan O’Connell has fashioned a new Netflix series based on his life as a gay man with cerebral palsy.

In “Special,” O’Connell stars as Ryan Keyes, a shy and withdrawn man who has a codependent relationship with his mother. Deft and poignant, the series depicts cerebral palsy truthfully and without exploitation.

O’Connell, along with That’s Wonderful Productions, has created a show worth crowing about. With eight 15-minute episodes, “Special” is relatable to nearly any viewer as, above all, it tackles the characters’ challenges as they seek emotional and physical independence.

To believe again & again: Pop, styles and cinematic icon Cher brings her “Here We Go Again” tour to Philly for an evening of hits from throughout her legendary career.

Livin' the dream: International comedian, actress and author Jen Kirkman comes to Philly armed with new jokes that people have seen on her Netflix special, “Just Keep Livin.”

Thanks to composer and voice coach Emily Bate, the Philadelphia choral-music scene just became far more diverse and accepting.

Trust Your Moves, an LGBTQ ensemble out of West Philadelphia, invites all genders and musical abilities. Rather than using traditional vocal terms like soprano, alto, tenor and bass, Bate uses gender-neutral language, referring to parts as high or low. Singers also can switch parts or sing lines in different octaves according to their comfort level.

Gender-nonbinary, transgender and transitioning individuals need not apply to TYM — because auditions aren’t required to join.

 When classmates ostracize 17-year-old Roy Black for kissing the high-school quarterback, he changes his identity to Rose, doling out life lessons.

“The characters are high-school kids. They are all lost and confused,” explained Gianna Lozzi Wolf, artistic director and an actor in “Mirror Mirror,” a new stage production in South Philadelphia that juxtaposes fantasy and fairytale with reality.

“They know there is more to who they are and these surface values that are instilled in them by their families,” she added. “It’s interesting to watch the ways they all struggle.”

“Wild Nights with Emily,” opening April 19 at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse, is a comic look at the relationship between reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon) and her lover and sister-in-law, Susan (Susan Ziegler), in 1860 Amherst.

The film opens with the two women kissing courteously before embracing far more passionately. Lesbian writer/director Madeleine Olnek — adapting her play — has an agenda to debunk the myth that Dickinson was (as an end title card indicates) “a half-cracked, unloved recluse who was afraid to publish her work.”

In working from this revisionist approach to Dickinson, Olnek’s PG-13 film is deliberately more mild than wild. But it does show Emily’s love affairs as well as her frustrations about not being able to achieve great(er) success as a poet in her lifetime.

 Koresh Dance Company is looking to the world of fine arts for inspiration.

Thus, the world premiere of its production, “La Danse,” is an interpretation of Matisse’s masterpiece of the same name. It will be performed to an original musical composition by John Levis with poetry by Karl Mullen.

Roni Koresh, the company’s artistic director, said the iconic image of five nude dancers was always around — but when he began focusing on it, he found it inspiring.

Another restaurant has entered the highly competitive culinary fray in the South Street-adjacent part of Queen Village. Luckily for Village Bar + Kitchen, 705 S. Fifth St., flavor is in its favor. In addition, the bright corner space is inviting and relaxing while the menu focuses on comfort dishes with a New American twist.

MOVING MOVEMENTS: Acclaimed dance troupe PHILADANCO returns to the stage with “Philly Style,” an evening of performance pieces by the company’s best choreographers, April 12-14 at Kimmel’s Perelman Theater, 300 S. Broad St. For more information or tickets, call 215-893-1999.

NBC announced it is renewing “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for a record-setting 21st season. Mariska Hargitay will return as lead detective, Lt. Olivia Benson — and will become the longest-running female character in a live-action primetime series.

Hargitay has earned eight Emmy nominations for her role, winning the award for lead actress in a drama in 2006. In addition to starring on the series, Hargitay is also executive producer and a director.

It’s no surprise the announcement was made as March ended and April approached: March was Women’s History Month and April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “SVU” has been addressing issues of sexual assault every week for 20 years and its star is making women’s history.

There’s radical theater and then there’s Applied Mechanics.

The Philadelphia collective of bold young theater workers and performance artists has been making immersive and transformative work for a decade. That includes 10 audacious productions, a handful of parties and a reputation for combatting racism, homophobia, standard gender norms and misogyny.

This Saturday, all the blood, sweat and tears that members of Applied Mechanics have shed will be on display, complete with a birthday party and retrospective installation with which audiences can interact.

Out gay cinematographer and filmmaker PJ Raval is coming to Philadelphia to present and discuss his 2018 documentary “Call Her Ganda.” The film recounts the 2014 murder of Filipino transwoman Jennifer Laude by Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Raval examines the human-rights abuses and media frenzy that transpired, as well as the impact this case had. It ignited trans-community activism and a demand for justice in a system designed to protect Americans.

Flow State CoffeeBar is an awesome little café on Frankford Avenue that’s lesbian-owned and operated.

A bright space with a beautiful, whimsical mural spanning the side wall, Flow State is for everyone. Need a place to sit and get some work done but tired of feeling obligated to drink a gallon of coffee to justify taking a seat? Here you can lease the chair for $12 for three hours and it comes with a cup of coffee and a pastry.

The café is the brainchild of three dynamic women: married couple Melanie and Liz Diamond-Manlusoc and friend Maggie Lee. I spoke with Lee over scoops of guava cinnamon gelato.

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