After an incredibly tough year for local arts and theater, show organizers are looking forward to a week that puts actors back in the spotlight.
Philadelphia Theatre Week returns April 22 through May 2 after a year of dark stages that saw thousands of lost jobs and millions lost in ticket sales. The annual event brings incredible performances at accessible prices to highlight the talent of the city’s theater scene.
“Philly Theatre Week was designed as an exciting annual celebration for arts, culture and theater audiences,” said Theatre Philadelphia’s new executive director, LaNeshe Miller-White. “It grew into one of the most anticipated festival-style events to take place in Philadelphia, joining the ranks of Philly Beer Week, Philly Tech Week and Center City Restaurant Week. Now, after the struggles our artistic community has endured over the last 12 months, this event means more than ever, as it’s the first big step to seeing artists back at work, audiences fill seats and curtains rise again. We brought it back to give our community hope and show that better days are ahead, and that our industry needs positive news and momentum to get through these next few months as we sort out what theater looks like this fall and next season, and what it looks like for years to come.”
Philly Theatre Week will celebrate 11 days with 72 events by 64 organizations and hundreds of performances. It aims to showcase the strength, resilience, talent and diversity of the city and its surrounding areas.
Events will include a variety of live and pre-recorded virtual performances, panels, workshops, theater-by-mail, audio plays and in-person outdoor events. All tickets are priced at three affordable levels of either free, $15 or $30 each. Tickets are on sale now at www.phillytheatreweek.org.
“All eyes of the country can and will be on us, as virtual theater has opened up amazing new opportunities to bring in theater lovers from across the country and across the world,” said Miller-White. “Some of our region’s theaters have been making national and international headlines during the pandemic. Some have perfected the unique and new art of virtual online performance. We are so excited to introduce our world-class theater scene to these brand-new audiences. When the time comes for audiences to come back inside to take their seat, we hope that the lasting impact of virtual theater will be even more tourists and visitors coming to Philadelphia to fill our houses.”
Participants include a list of South Philly favorites including Theatre Exile (1340 S. 13th St.), which will offer its show “Zoo Motel” all week. 11th Hour Theatre Company at 2329 S. 3rd St. will show its live virtual theater event “Quarantine Cabaret” on April 24 at 7:30 p.m.
The EgoPo Classic Theater at 317 Dickinson St. will hold a live, drive-in outdoor event called “Nocturne” from April 28-May 2.
Many other shows like Inis Nua Theatre Company’s “How to Be Brave” (April 22-25) will feature South Philly talent such as Alice Yorke, who embarks on a solo performance. Participants range from large regional professional theaters to college-based and smaller up-and-coming theaters. All of them seem happy to be performing once again.
“Theatre Philadelphia is so excited to showcase the amazing ways that the Philadelphia region’s theater community has continued to create work and look forward during the global pandemic,” Miller-White said. “The fourth annual Philly Theatre Week gives producers and artists an opportunity to connect and/or reconnect with audiences as they begin their journey on the long road to recovery that lies ahead.”
Miller-White said despite the pandemic, Philly Theatre Week’s shows needed to go on.
“For me it wasn’t a question of if we had Philly Theatre Week, it was a question of how, when and how big,” she said. “We really wanted to get our community energized. We set a goal of 40 organizations and we didn’t know what to expect, and we are over the moon to mobilize over 60 groups in just a few short weeks. I am really excited to see theaters buzzing again with activity and I can’t wait to see some of my favorite local faces back performing again.”