July 02, 2015
Each year Eastern State Penitentiary celebrates Bastille Day, the French holiday of July 14 which commemorates the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution. This year ESP will team up with Bearded Ladies Cabaret to put on a day of revolutionary activities Saturday, July 11.
It all starts with regular touring hours of ESP beginning at 10 a.m. Then, at 2:30 p.m., the pre-show will start with a free performance by cosmological rock band OOLALA.
At 5:30 p.m. the main attraction begins with Bearded Ladies taking the stage across Fairmount Avenue, outside the penitentiary. The troupe will present the entire French Revolution in one hour, filled with songs, dance and, naturally, "beheadings." Edith Piaf will join Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, and a six-foot French baguette for the historical reenactment.
The topics of education, the departure of Mayor Nutter, the arrival of the Pope and other Philly-related current events will find their way into the performance, as will confetti canons and stilt walkers. Marie Antoinette (played graciously by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar) will scream "Let them eat Tastykake!" as 3,000 real Tastykakes are tossed to the crowd. The entire event is free, but VIP seats are available for $40. Just don't forget to dress your best as a revolutionary or an aristocrat.
After it all, ESP will reopen for twilight tours ($8 in advance, $10 at the door) and local Fairmount restaurants and bars will offer themed specials. Alla Spina, Belgian Cafe, Brigid's, Jack's Firehouse, Lock Stock & Barrel and Urban Saloon will offer deals on Kronenbourg, a French beer.
London Grill, however, will start their celebrations at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 9 when the Fairmount French Fling Bar Crawl, sponsored by Kronenbourg, will commence. At 7 p.m. Friday, July 10, they'll host French Trivia Night with special prizes. They will continue the fun Saturday with a family friendly pre-party at 2 p.m. with crafts and a photo booth.
After ESP's main event Saturday afternoon, London Grill will begin an epic block party at 6:30 p.m. featuring the West Philadelphia Orchestra. Sunday morning they'll host a "Bloody Marie Brunch" beginning at 10 a.m. and then a "Marie Antoinette's Boudoir" pastry pop-up for $35 at 1 p.m.