MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - On Thursday, two Minneapolis theaters are welcoming back audiences for the first shows since the start of the pandemic.
The Guthrie Theater and Orpheum Theatre have now been closed for more than 18 months. When the stages went dark as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in Minnesota in March of 2020, no one had no clue they'd end up closing doors for more than a year and a half.
"We thought maybe two weeks at the most," said John Engebretson, who was in line for tickets on Wednesday.
John and his mother, Allison Engebretson, are from a family of avid theatergoers, and this break has been too long.
"We were just talking about that, it was ‘Phantom of the Opera’ in November of 2019," recalled Allison of the last show they saw.
"We had a show right before the pandemic hit and then everything shut down," said Dale Stark with the Hennepin Theater Trust.
The Orpheum lifts the curtain Thursday after 18 months, re-hiring staff and a whole lot of work rescheduling.
"It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle, so it’s not just our theater, it’s theaters across the country, and then it shows across the country," added Stark.
On the other side of downtown, the famed Guthrie Theater also reopens on Thursday also with a touring production and the same last-minute scramble to have all those things in place.
The Guthrie requires either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for all guests of all ages. The Orpheum also requires vaccination for those 12 and older; kids under 12 will not need anything. Both theaters require masks for everyone.
"It takes a lot of pride and dedication, and it all comes back to you," Stark added.