LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The seats at the Fulton Theatre sat empty for months while the COVID-19 pandemic prevented large public gatherings, but Tuesday night, audiences were once again allowed into the auditorium as live, in-person performances return to the Fulton’s stage.

“It feels like Christmas morning,” Marc Robin, executive artistic producer at the Fulton Theatre said. “For 14 months we’ve been looking at an empty theater, and tonight, to actually have live people coming in, it’s overwhelming. It’s beyond words.”

The theater’s first live show since the pandemic is “Together We Celebrate,” a concert of Broadway favorites performed by ten actors accompanied on stage by an eight-piece orchestra.

Robin explains that the theater’s leaders weren’t planning to hold live shows until September, but when they found out that they could safely invite audiences back sooner, they leaped at the opportunity.

“We wanted to do something quick, but we wanted to also do something that was celebratory,” Robin said. Through song and dance, the show celebrates the return of live theater, the return of audiences, and the community that continues to support the Fulton.

Getting back into the groove of putting together a performance took a bit of adjusting, says Robin. “One of the biggest things that was that moment of, ‘Can we? Should we?’ was the first day of rehearsal when we just wanted to hug each other,” Robin recalls.

“Now we’re finally at a place where because we’re a fully vaccinated company, we can hug each other, we can share the joy, and hopefully we can pass that onto our audiences,” Robin said.

Together We Celebrate” opened on July 6, but during the performance-less months of the pandemic, the Fulton’s staff were still busy working on the expansion of the theater.

Once construction is complete, the theater will extend across the entire city block and be able to house over 1,000 guests, while the old facility could only accommodate around 400, Robin explains.

“Together We Celebrate” is just the beginning of The Fulton’s return to normal. The 2021/2022 Marquee Season kicks off in September with a production of “Fun Home.”

“The fact that [the community has] been able to support us and to keep up going through the 14 months when we weren’t able to do art, we’re just so excited to be back on the boards to be able to give back to them and say, ‘Hey, theater’s back in Lancaster in the Fulton, please come out and see us,'” Robin said.