Eastern State Penitentiary's Bastille Day Celebration Features Free Theatrical Performance as Thousands of Tastykakes Fly From the Prison's Towers

The Bearded Ladies bring the spirit of revolution to Eastern State's Bastille Day celebration

Jun 20, 2012, 10:05 ET from Eastern State Penitentiary

PHILADELPHIA, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA is teaming up with The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, to present the entire French Revolution in a two-hour spectacle of song, dance, and beheading for the penitentiary's annual Bastille Day festival, to be held Saturday, July 14. This "completely historically accurate" reenactment of the storming of Bastille will be emceed by the voice of Paris herself, Edith Piaf, and will include appearances by Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, and a life-size French Baguette.

New for 2012, The Bearded Ladies are working with Eastern State to create an original show for the Bastille Day Celebration. This performance, one of the largest free theatrical events in Philadelphia, will feature confetti cannons, stilt walkers, a cardboard horse, and a catwalk so long that it divides the whole of Fairmount Avenue.

The performance will begin at 4:30 p.m. in front of Eastern State Penitentiary at 2027 Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia, PA and will culminate in a playful reenactment of the storming of the Bastille. Dozens of French revolutionaries will storm the grim walls of "the Bastille" (Eastern State Penitentiary), will capture Marie Antoinette (portrayed by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar) and, ignoring her mocking cries of "Let them eat Tastykake!" will drag her to a real, functioning guillotine as 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison's towers.

The performance will take place on Fairmount Avenue, free and open to the public. For those interested in a better (French Bourgeoisie) view, exclusive VIP seating is available for a donation. VIP tickets include table seating, beer and refreshments, heckling from the lower classes, and revolution goodie bags. Tickets are available online only beginning July 1 at easternstate.org/eventtickets.

Following the beheading, local Fairmount restaurants will come alive with French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials, and the penitentiary will reopen for rare twilight tours at a discounted admission price ($10 Adults, $5 Students, Seniors and Kids).

The Bearded Ladies will prep attendees for the event by releasing instructional videos on how to dance like a revolutionary. Check out easternstate.org/bastille-day for revolutionary dance steps.

About The Bearded Ladies
The Bearded Ladies is an experimental cabaret group currently in residence at the Wilma Theater.  They are devoted to exploiting all the possibilities of intimate, homemade theater through beautiful songs, tricked-out costume changes, drag, and virtuosic prop construction. With wit and sparkle they tackle the politics of popular culture, sex, gender, and artistic invention.  Shows include: No Regrets: A Piaf Affair, Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, and the most recent Beards Are For Shaving: A 007 Cabaret

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row. A critically acclaimed series of artist installations is free with admission. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students and children ages 7-12 (not recommended for children under the age of seven). The penitentiary is open every day, year round from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. April through November, admission includes "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi.  For more information and schedules, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit www.EasternState.org.

SOURCE Eastern State Penitentiary