YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There’s lots of holiday cheer going on in the Valley. Friday night at The Youngstown Playhouse, they had even more to be happy about. It was their first play back at The Playhouse since everything was shut down.

We caught up with fans and those in the play about what it’s like to be back out.

“It’s the first opening night we have had since the pandemic shut everything down in February of 2020,” said Dr. John Cox, board president of The Youngstown Playhouse.

The play of choice? Elf: The Musical.

“Once you get that feeling of live theater, there’s nothing like it. So to be shut off from it for so long and the cast loves what they do and the audience loves being able to be here. So in order for everybody to have their fun and enjoy this, this is perfection right before the holidays. It’s what we’ve been wishing for actually,” Dr. Cox said.

Every show was sold out — they even added an extra show next weekend. For perspective, The Playhouse holds roughly 550 seats. It’s a good feeling for the cast to perform in front of all of those people.

“I didn’t know when it was coming back, I actually thought for a little bit that we would be on a hiatus for, like, years. So to just be back on the main stage to a sold-out crowd, it just feels so pleasing,” said James Major Burns, who plays Buddy the Elf.

Burns said the best part of the show is entertaining the people.

“It’s the holiday season, people are still going through ups and downs so I hope that we can bring them joy,” Burns said.

For a lot of people, it provided an opportunity for people to get out and enjoy the holiday season after not being able to last year.

“I’m an extrovert so COVID was not kind to me and it was not fun to be kind of locked away. We actually went to the tree lighting before this. It was so nice to see everyone down there,” said play attendee Rebecca Potkanowicz.

As an alumna of The Playhouse, Potkanowicz was excited to support the cast from the other side of the stage.

“This is such a unique piece to the community that we really need to keep it going and hopefully keep supporting it and it keeps growing and we don’t let it fall behind like it could in some communities,” Potkanowicz said.