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Back on stage . . . Oamaru Opera House director Frances McElhinney and event co›ordinator Matthew Wicks are excited for the return of live shows. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

It has been 202 days since the Oamaru Opera House last hosted a live show.

That is about to change, as director Frances McElhinney and her team prepare to host folk trio Albi and The Wolves on Wednesday.

The performance has been in the pipeline for a while, but under Red traffic light restrictions, Oamaru Opera House events were unable to go ahead, with indoor gatherings limited to 100 people.

When New Zealand moved to Orange, with no limit to indoor gathering numbers, the Oamaru Opera House could open its doors to live events once more.

‘‘It still feels a bit surreal,’’ Mrs McElhinney said.

Albi and The Wolves were excellent musicians and would bring a high-energy performance to Oamaru, she said.

‘‘You come away feeling uplifted. What more could you want?’’

It had been a challenging two years for the opera house, with shows postponed multiple times, and which was ‘‘heartbreaking’’ for staff, tour promoters, and entertainers.

But the Oamaru Opera House staff had achieved a lot during that down period, hosting conferences, meetings, and working behind the scenes to prepare for the return of live performances, she said.

‘‘I’m just really proud of them because everyone’s been amazing and everyone’s supported each other. Everyone just mucks in.’’

The rest of the year is looking bright. Live shows, including music, opera and comedy were being booked, including some international acts, and Mrs McElhinney also hoped to get the schools back into the theatre soon.

The opera house is taking part in the Waitaki District Council’s ‘‘Welcome Back!’’ weekend, on May 28-29, with different activities at the Forrester Gallery, Oamaru Library, Waitaki Aquatic Centre and Waitaki Museum and Archive.

The opera house will host a free screening of The Greatest Showman at 3pm on May 28.
Voices Love Opera will also be performed at 7.30pm on Sunday, May 29.

Mrs McElhinney encouraged people to book their tickets in advance.

‘‘We just really want to celebrate, and I suppose, our competition is the couch [now].

‘‘For us, it’s like we’ve got muscles we haven’t used for a while.’’

She reminded the community tickets to all shows were refundable if they had to be postponed.