TWIN-CITIES, Ill. (WMBD) — With Gov. J.B. Pritzker announcing Illinois is on track to enter phase 5 of the state’s reopening plan next week, local theaters and performing arts venues are getting ready to open their doors with no capacity limits.

Emily Ohmart, Marketing Chair for The Community Players Theatre in Bloomington, said the past year has been a struggle.

“With COVID, there was so much uncertainty, and so much up in the air, we have such a wonderful number of patrons who want to continue to support us, and so we did our best to still produce virtual content, keep people engaged on our social media channels and our website, but it was hard,” said Ohmart.

Over at The Castle Theatre in Bloomington, Rory O’Connor, an owner and general manager, said the community has shown support while they’ve been closed.

“We offered a program where they could help us down the road a little bit, we call it our golden ticket program,” said O’Connor. “A lot of people came and stepped up and bought a pass not starting when it was sold, but trusting that in the future we’d open back up and once again be able to offer shows, so that showed a lot of faith in us, and showed a lot of support and helped us get through a dark time.”

Normal Theater Manager Adam Fox said while The Normal Theater has been open with capacity limits, he’s seen a gradual increase in attendees. He expects people will slowly return to venues as they feel more comfortable.

“They know that things are getting better, they know that all of the protocols we have in place have been working, and they have, again, a little more confidence coming back and having that sense of normalcy as they come into the theater,” said Fox.

Leaders with all three venues said they will be excited when they see a full crowd and smiling faces.