By Dave Carlin

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The return of Broadway is being celebrated in Times Square with a three-day festival that includes live performances.

A rendition of the Broadway classic “There’s No Business Like Show Business” brought Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell to a big stage in the middle of Times Square.

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“The best part about it is that the audiences know that they’re hearing something special as well, so we’re all just feeling this joy together,” he told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.

The “Curtain Up!” three-day free festival celebrates the reopening of Broadway after 18 months of being closed due to the pandemic.

While recovering from COVID in 2020, Stokes Mitchell took to his own balcony to sing “The Impossible Dream” in honor of essential workers. He thought it would be a one-time serenade.

FLASHBACK: Broadway Star Brian Stokes Mitchell Serenades Health Care Workers From His Window

“But the next day after all the applause died down, I could see people kind of looking up at the window, and I was getting ready to close the window, and then somebody said, ‘Sing the song,'” he said.

Jessica Vosk, who last appeared on Broadway as Elphaba in “Wicked,” was thrilled to be back before a live audience.

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“Is there anything better than a performer getting to, like, do what they love so much? My brain is exploding. I didn’t think that it would hit me this hard, but it really has,” she said.

The “Curtain Up!” kick-off was hosted by actors Michael Urie and Norm Lewis. Both will star in the new Broadway comedy “Chicken and Biscuits.”

The festival will include performances and appearances from the casts of 18 Broadway shows.

Fans are ready to see their favorites on stage again.

“We love Broadway. We’re so glad it’s back,” one person said.

“I just love Broadway. I love theater. I’m just so happy it’s back,” another person said.

Broadway is back, so on with the show.

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For more details, including a live stream and a schedule of events, click here.

Dave Carlin