BILLINGS — For most of us, it's been a long year and a half. For the Alberta Bair Theater, add a whole extra year to that.
Construction started on the theater's $13.6 million facelift way back in May 2019, and while it's been done for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic didn't allow shows to come back until Saturday.
"I'd like to welcome you to the grand re-opening of the Alberta Bair Theater," ABT President Ron Yates said in his opening remarks on stage to start the show.
International singing sensation Kristin Chenoweth then performed to a nearly full venue.
"It's like a dream has come true," said ABT executive director Jan Dietrich. "It's overwhelming. For the community to want to get back out again and experience live performing arts, I feel proud of everybody that worked so hard on this project. It's hard to explain, but it's a dream come true."
Festivities started well before the performance, with the theater closing down N. Broadway Avenue between 3rd and 4th Avenue N for a pre-show party. There were also kickoff dinner parties at various restaurants throughout the city.
The schedule ramps up from here, with three more shows set for September on the Alberta Bair's 2021-22 calendar.