MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thursday, life returns to two well-known theaters in Minneapolis.

Theatergoers will be walking through the doors at the Guthrie and Orpheum and filling the seats inside for the first time in 18 months.

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The Guthrie Theater lost around $28 million in revenue by shutting its doors for as long as it had to during the pandemic. The theater also laid off 80% of its staff.

“I’m just so excited we are going to get to welcome people back in the theater and of course safely back in the theater,” Managing Director James Haskins said. “But I think it’s going to be a truly emotional moment.”

What kept them surviving all of this was $7 million in combined federal loans and generous donations from the public. But what’s really going to get them back on their feet is people buying tickets to shows.

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“The contributed revenue is always going to be greatly appreciated but what I would love is just to get people back inside the theater,” Haskins said. “People purchasing tickets and coming together sharing in the joy and in the celebration in the spirit of being back together in the safest possible environment we can create for people.”

The play “What the Constitution Means to Me” opens at the Guthrie Thursday night. The theater’s beloved production of “A Christmas Carol” will be back in November.

On the other side of downtown Minneapolis, the Orpheum lights will turn back on Thursday night as well as a three-week run of “Disney’s Frozen.”

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Tickets for both productions are still available. Masks and proof of a COVID-19 test or vaccination will be required at both theaters.

Marielle Mohs