If you needed an incentive to return to the theater, it’s coming to you in April — 10 days of theater, from readings to live performances — all at reduced prices, including free events.

“We’re very excited,” said LaNeshe Miller-White, executive director of Theatre Philadelphia, the umbrella theater-marketing organization that is spearheading Philly Theatre Week April 1 through April 10.

Because the show must go on, it did — even when the pandemic shut down theaters around the country and in Philadelphia. Last year’s Philly Theatre Week included 75 events — 73 of them virtual and two outdoor shows.

This year, Philly Theatre Week includes 86 events and hundreds of performances, with a 60/40% live/virtual split, Miller-White said. Ticket prices range from free to $30, with plenty of $15 shows in between. Shows are everywhere, from Delaware to Trenton, the city to the burbs.

Just to name a few, there are “Menopause the Musical” at Bristol Riverside Theatre, the “Nichos Community Project” at the Esperanza Arts Center,Gilbert and Sullivan and Cocktails!” by The Savoy Company of Philadelphia, and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” by the Curio Theatre Company, staged in West Philadelphia.

“There are a lot of premieres — world premieres or regional premieres — or the first time people are reading new pieces. There’s a lot of new work,” Miller-White said. “There are a few that are pandemic-related. It’s exciting to see what people are coming back with.”

Workshops abound — a grant-writing seminar offered by the Black Theatre Alliance of Philadelphia, playwriting workshops on Zoom from the Naked Writing Blog, and a session on theatrical combat from Argent Combat. Power Street Theatre will host artist spotlight talks centered on Arab American Heritage month. You can join the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas for a happy hour.

Last, but not least, are laughs from Crossroads Comedy Theater, offering its “Extree! Extree!: Comedy Inspired by the News” and “Study Hall: Comedy Inspired by Lectures.”

For Miller-White, a highlight will be the opening reception March 30 at 5 p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s dazzling rooftop party space. “It’ll be Theatre Philadelphia’s first live event in two years,” she said, “and my first as its executive director.” Miller-White promises plenty of mini-performances, all wonderful, along with thechance for the theater community to reconnect after two years of separation. It’s free and open to the public.

This year’s Philly Theatre Week — the fifth annual — comes as audiences are still finding their way back to the theater, Miller-White said. Attendance is down significantly from pre-pandemic days, though it spikes toward the end of runs, she said, as audiences buy tickets at the very last minute. “It is driving the producers crazy.”

After a pandemic absence, the Barrymore Awards will return. On March 30, applications will be available for nominators and judges who will see and evaluate shows presented after July 1 for the 2022-2023 season. Awards for theatrical excellence will be presented in the fall of 2023.

April 1 through April 10. For tickets and information, theatrephiladelphia.org Check individual venues for COVID-19 protocols.

Theater for Ukraine

To raise money to help Ukrainian children, members of the Wilma HotHouse Company will stage a free reading of “Bad Roads,” an acclaimed play by Ukrainian writer Natal’ya Vorozhbit. Donations made while reserving your seat will go to Voices of Children Foundation, a nonprofit Ukrainian organization providing psychological and psychosocial support to help children overcome the consequences of armed conflict.

March 31, 7 p.m., Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-546-7824 or wilmatheater.org Masks and proof of vaccination required.

‘Waitress’

Ever been a waitress? Remember filling the ketchups, trying to balance one bottle precariously upside down on another to create full bottles for each table? The bottles topple, the ketchup splatters — it’s a mess.

“There’s a whole shtick about ketchup with my character in the show,” Gabriella Marzetta said with a laugh. Marzetta plays Dawn, one of three waitresses in “Waitress” at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy of Music next week. “I think they added it in the show because it is something waitresses have to deal with.”

Marzetta, who served her time in restaurants as many actors do, already knew firsthand about the ketchups and refilling the sugars. “You don’t have to put on a whole act” to make it realistic on stage, she said.

Before it opened on Broadway as a musical in 2016, Waitress began its life in 2007 as a movie about a young waitress, Jenna, who sees the possibility of winning a pie contest as her way out of an unhappy marriage.

On stage, the violence in Jenna’s marriage is never shown, but its presence is felt. “Jenna represents so many women who don’t have a voice or whose voices have been silenced — and not just women, it doesn’t matter what gender,” Marzetta said. “That’s why this show is loved. People really feel seen.”

Marzetta wants the audience to listen for her favorite song, “A Soft Place to Land,” a trio sung by the waitresses. “It’s an homage to womanhood and to the women who raised us and to not giving up on our dreams.”

Waitress was the first Broadway musical in history led by an all-female creative team, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. This tour of Waitress stars Jisel Soleil Ayon, in the lead role of Jenna.

March 29-April 3, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, kimmelculturalcampus.org Proof of vaccination and masks required at least through March 30. Check after that.

‘Golden Girls’

You can dip into marinated salami, BBQ chicken salad, dill pickles, bacon, pepper jelly, and graham cracker-crumbed cheesecake cups, all while drinking Southern Comfort, spiked lemonade, and limoncello with the stars of “The Golden Girls Murder Mystery: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher.”

Eating is part of the fun — as is helping the cast solve the mystery, posing for selfies and, in case you don’t already have one, getting your own mug shot. Written by John Logue, directed by David Micun, and presented by Without a Cue.

Through April 2, Craft Hall, 901 Delaware Ave., Philadelphia, 267-994-1056 or withoutacue.com Proof of vaccination required.

‘Savannah Sipping Society’

Mix one happy hour, three friends, and a life coach determined to help her new friends find fulfillment and you get the recipe for comedy and maybe a few wistful tears in “Savannah Sipping Society” by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten at DCP Theatre in Telford.

March 24 through April 3. DCP Theatre, 795 Ridge Rd., Telford 215-234-0966 or dcptheatre.org Masks required.

‘Baby’

Three couples — young marrieds eager to start a family, mid-30s struggling to conceive, and older parents with children in college who find themselves back in baby land after a “close encounter.” Their stories form the plot of “Baby, The Musical” at The Media Theatre. Directed by Jesse Cline.

Through March 27, The Media Theatre, 104 E. State St., Media, 610-891-0100 or mediatheatre.org Masks optional.

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