COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The stage lights are shining bright this summer in the Pikes Peak Region as performing art venues are welcoming back live audiences. The industry had to endure some of the longest closures during the pandemic because of restrictions on indoor gatherings.
Now the artists and venues are ready to welcome back the crowd and perform.
Next week, the professional theater company Theatreworks will hold its first indoor performance with a live audience since the pandemic.
Cheerish Martin stars as jazz legend Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill which opens on Thursday for a two-week run at the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS.
"So, she's had an entire career, she's sung at Carnegie Hall, she's toured the nation and she's fallen on hard times," said Caitlin Lowans, Theatreworks Artistic Director.
The group made the switch to virtual performances last fall and even held a shadow puppet show in February where audience members watched the performance from outside while sipping hot cocoa. Lowans said emotions have been especially strong during the rehearsals.
"The artists have sort of looked around at each other, there have been tears, there have been just these deep breaths as people were worried that they didn't know when they would get to do this again," they said.
Stargazers Theater reopened in early May after indoor capacity restrictions were lifted. Marketing director Kiera Lynn said the stage is booked out beyond the summer with a combination of concerts and film screenings happening this month.
"I think just the fact that people have been shut up in their homes for the last year is more of a reason to just get back out into the great unknown," Lynn said.
The venue will screen two films as part of the Colorado Springs PrideFest Film Festival next Thursday.
The Iron Springs Chateau dinner theater in Manitou Springs reopened Memorial Day weekend. Co-owner Dolores Adams-Miller said they've averaged 3 to 4 four performances a week.
"We're open Tuesday through Saturday. So, we could possibly do five shows a week if we had the numbers."
Dinner is served between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. with the shows beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Adams-Miller said each performance depends on the number of reservations.
"There is no prepayment with us. So, when you call in your reservation, the sooner you do that is better because that is the way that we seat the theater," she said.
The Shockley-Zalabek Theater at the Ent Center can seat more than 700 people. However, Lowans said these summer performances will start with smaller audiences of 120 people. The number of available tickets will expand with each subsequent show.