Sold-out shows and surges in new memberships has seen community theatre make a huge comeback after Covid-19.
The lockdown meant shows across the Bay of Plenty were cancelled, moved, postponed - some even four times over - and it left not-for-profit theatres financially vulnerable.
Now, theatres have seen full houses and increasing interest from new members as they get back on their feet and plan for a new 2021 show calendar.
Tauranga Musical Theatre president Jeremy Sparrow said the theatre had been relatively fortunate being able to stage two shows that were delayed due to the lockdown.
"We did have to move our big production of Les Misérables from September 2020 to 2021," he said.
"However, Baycourt [Community and Art Centre] were very accommodating to transfer over the booking and as such we didn't take a financial hit there."
Sparrow said ticket sales were "very important" to the not-for-profit theatre as all profits go directly into staging future shows.
"Holding shows are where we make the bulk of our profit, as well as through very generous sponsorship and funding, so we need to hold events to continue to run the theatre."
Since lockdown, Sparrow said the response from the community had been "phenomenal".
"When we came out of lockdown, we had a fantastic run of The Blues Brothers: First Contact, which was our first show back on stage since January 2020 ...
"... it had been delayed four times, so we had built quite a loyal following of people who were dying to see it get to the stage. I feel like people were really invested in our journey."
Sparrow said four shows were sold out prior to opening and once the curtains opened nearly every show in the season did too, with two extra weekday shows added.
"I think also people were really excited to get back to the theatre, to be around other people and connect with the community through something fun and exciting," he said.
"There was this sense of appreciation for how lucky we are in New Zealand to be staging live theatre when productions around the world were and are shutting down due to Covid-19, so we don't take the opportunity lightly."
Sparrow said the theatre's end of year show Popstars also sold well and brought in some "really enthusiastic audiences" as well as new names inquiring at auditions for future shows West Side Story and Les Misérables.
"We also had a large number of ex-volunteers, who had moved overseas, come back and join us, which was really cool too."
Director of the theatre's January youth show 13: The Musical, Elise Rohde, said the show gathered "heaps" of interest at auditions.
"Our youth shows are always really well-received, as we've spent that past 11 years building a reputation for that January slot, so people know what to expect."
Rohde, who is also co-director of Wright Rohde Youth Theatre, said their student numbers had grown post-Covid-19 as more families began to appreciate the need for a creative outlet.
"We are brimming with talent in Tauranga, and the arts are thriving."
Detour Theatre Trust director Devon Williamson said after a tough 2020, with just one show hitting the stage, she was looking forward to producing the theatre's usual four shows in 2021.
"We've created a programme that will be hugely entertaining and a sure-fire pick-me-up tonic."
Williamson said theatre took a "huge hit" with the lockdown and subsequent rules around social distancing.
"Live theatre is about people being together. Its whole point is physical closeness ...," she said.
"When we could finally open our season of Mad Sisters we barely had a spare seat over the 13 performances."
Williamson said the audiences felt jubilant when the theatre reopened and there "certainly" hadn't been any less interest in live theatre.
"The excitement at getting back to a fun night at the theatre was palpable."
Acting classes had also stayed at high-levels as well as interest in youth theatre, she said.
Rotorua Little Theatre president Liz Carrington said the theatre staged two of four shows in 2020 due to Covid-19.
"That basically halved our income for the year," she said.
"Our first show we had to move due to Covid from May until the end of the year. Then in level 3 people still weren't confident about coming out."
However, Carrington said people were starting to enjoy theatre again.
"I think the energy and confidence is back and we're very much planning for this year."
A pantomime the theatre staged in December generated a "big surge" in memberships and an increase in young people, Carrington said.
Since lockdown, the theatre had hosted the University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music as well as Kiwi comedians Rose Matafeo and Guy Williams.
"People were excited about being able to see comedy and that sold out," she said.