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Fight the Good Fight

From Charles Dickens’ 1859 epic A Tale of Two Cities comes this succinct two-hour adaptation for young and old alike. Thru May 3, People’s Light & Theatre Company introduces the East Coast to Arizona playwright Dwayne Hartford’s 2008 version of the timeless drama set during the French Revolution. Passion, pressure and social mayhem propel the plot from London to Paris, and the “undying” power of love prevails. Brimming with action, pain, vengeance and deliverance, A Tale of Two Cities remains one of the best stories centered around the worst of times. Thankfully, Hartford has kept Dickens’ main characters largely intact—from the drunken, dejected English lawyer-turned-martyr Sydney Carton and his honorable client, Frenchman Charles Darnay, to the blue-eyed subject of both men’s adoration, Lucie Manette (who’s actually Darnay’s wife). In Hartford’s take, the impact of history and politics on the individual commands a larger focus than the love story. How timely. $21-$48. 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern. Call (610) 644-3500 or visit peopleslight.org.
 

Who Inspires You?

That’s the question posed by the globe-trotting exhibition Challenging the Châtelaine, presented by the Philadelphia Art Alliance thru April 26. More than 70 international artists reveal their role models, from Cinderella and the homeless to insulin co-discoverers Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best. In this exploratory jewelry exhibit, the châtelaine—which once stood for a waist-hung ornament like a ring of keys—illustrates the “key” to one’s personality. Conceived and organized by Philadelphia’s own Helen W. Drutt English, this spirited show revels in the imaginative use of materials, from silver to horsehair, toys to syringes, photos to dough. It’s a sight to see—and we’re the only U.S. stop. Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $3-$5. 251 S. 18th St., Philadelphia. Call (215) 545-4302 or visit philartalliance.org.
 

Book Bash

Stages are set for readings, panel discussions, children’s entertainment, story hours, live music and so much more at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Free Library Festival April 18-19. Featured celebrity authors include the Tony Award-winning Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked), 2008 Olympic silver medalist Dara Torres and Philadelphia Daily News columnist Solomon Jones. Sample the limelight yourself at a poetry open mic, or hang out with authors and strolling storybook characters Strawberry Shortcake and Clifford the Big Red Dog while perusing the inventory of 100 bookstores and publishers at the Street Fair & Literary Marketplace. Plus, five clever Philadelphians will welcome support as they “StorySlam” five Chicagoans with timed real-life anecdotes—all to prove which is the more storied metropolis. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia. Call (215) 567-4341 or visit freelibrary.org/bookfestival.
 

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