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'It feels electric': The magic of Broadway returns to Kentucky Performing Arts

For the first time in more than 600 days, Broadway was back downtown for more than 2,000 people to see Tuesday night. The season started with the musical 'Waitress.'

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Draw back the curtains - For the first time in more than 600 days, Broadway returned to the stage in Louisville Tuesday night.

Hundreds filled the seats at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts on Main Street in downtown Louisville, 18 months after COVID-19 turned the world upside down. During the pandemic shutdowns, the stage went dark as highly-anticipated shows were canceled. 

But through it all, PNC Broadway in Louisville pushed ahead.

"Everyone stuck with us. We had 12,000 subscribers before the pandemic, and we have come out with 12,000 subscribers. That's Louisville," said PNC Broadway in Louisville President Leslie Broecker, who called the city a 'theater town.' 

"It's been 616 days since we've had an opening night in the building, so there are jitters, but they're happy jitters," Broecker said.

The season opened with the musical 'Waitress,' as more than 2,000 patrons - some traveling from other cities - filled the seats inside the center.

RELATED: The Kentucky Center welcomes back Broadway

Locals hoping this will help turn the page to future success going into 2022, with five more musicals on the schedule.

"I'm just excited to be a part of the reopening," one family said.

And this is more than just a show for downtown businesses each night. The Troll Pub Under the Bridge just down the street is one of many restaurants that benefit largely from overflow after events.

"They have a huge role in the community and downtown business," said one of the managers Christopher Collins. "A lot of people don't want to just get in their cars and drive away, so our bar will fill up 15 minutes after the event is over."

People attending shows at the center must either show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter.

Contact reporter Isaiah Kim-Martinez at IKimMartin@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter

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