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Live audiences return to Toledo Repertoire Theatre for first time since pandemic started

"Something Rotten" opened to a fresh, sold-out audience for its opening weekend.

TOLEDO, Ohio — After over a year and a half of virtual and outdoor performances, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre welcomed back patrons for its opening weekend of "Something Rotten".

The first three live shows were sold out. And theater lovers stressed the audience was just as excited as the performers.

"When the opening number hit like everyone was stoked," said Alexander Wojtas, "and I think that speaks volumes to what was missing in the community."

The roar of a live crowd is something the theater hasn't heard since the start of the pandemic.

"Our first full mainstage musical back on our own stage and it feels really good," said production manager Benjamin Jameson.

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Patrons continued to support the theater throughout the pandemic, but said there's nothing quite like being back together in person.

"We saw some streaming things during the pandemic," said Josh Glover, "but much better to be in the room with the people we know and enjoy watching."

The pandemic further delayed the return of the live shows when three cast members tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago. Jameson said it was a bummer, but safety comes first.

"We are determined to continue doing theater and continue doing it safely," he said, "so as soon as one case was identified, we shut it down and stayed apart for 10 days."

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Though the live entertainment industry suffered during the shutdowns, now performers and patrons can share their love of theater once again, in-person and together.

"The performers feed off that and this was a sold-out house which we haven't had in a long time," said Jameson.

Passionate theatergoers like Wojtas noted that theater in northwest Ohio has a dedicated following and its fans were patiently waiting for it to come back.

"Live theater is such an integral part of the arts, especially here in Toledo," said Wojtas. "It's always had a place here. So to be able to actually come in person and see a show again is phenomenal."

"Something Rotten" has four more shows this week and into next weekend from Thursday to Sunday. 

There will be more productions in the theater's season later this year including the Rep's popular production of A Christmas Carol in December. Click here for details.

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