By Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Broadway is back.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, Wednesday night marked the first performance of a Broadway play in nearly 17 months.

A block in the Theater District was shut down and a theater was packed with a vaccinated and masked audience. The performance was a significant step for performers, fans, and everyone who relies on the billion dollar industry.

“This is my livelihood. I’m an actor and stage manager and to see folks working and see folks back is just so heartwarming,” said Madeline Blossom of Brooklyn.

READ MOREBroadway Vaccine Mandate: Audiences Must Be Vaccinated And Masked; Performers, Crew And Staff Required To Be Vaccinated

The August Wilson Theater was packed for Broadway’s first performance since March 2020. The production of “Pass Over” started in previews at 8 p.m., and was followed by a celebratory block party on 52nd Street that was free and open to the public.

Everyone who comes to see a Broadway show or works on one is required to show proof of vaccination, and masks will be required for audience members throughout the performances.

That does not include children under 12 or those with medical or religious exemptions who instead must show proof of a negative test.

READ MOREPandemic-Delayed Public Art Display Finally Blooms Along Broadway

“It makes me feel better that folks will be wearing masks,” said Isake Smith of Brooklyn.

But after a 17-month intermission, everyone had those pre-show jitters, including the owner of one restaurant across the street who said it felt like their opening night as well.

“We rely heavily on people coming in and out of shows. It’s amazing everyone’s gonna be coming back and forth there’s gonna be so much foot traffic,” said Nicholas Von Shats, co-owner of Russian Samovar.

In addition to being vaccinated, the cast and crew of Wednesday’s show also have to be tested for COVID-19 three times a week.

Dr. Blyth Adamson is the production’s epidemiologist

“Right now, we’re testing all the cast and crew daily with PCR testing,” Adamson said.

“This is what we need to do to bring people back safely to theater right now,” producer Matt Ross added.

Click here to see when other performances are set to return.

Ali Bauman