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CHICAGO —  One of the most recognized musical theatre anthems could also be the anthem for Broadway in Chicago’s comeback after 822,900 minutes in the dark.

Chicago’s theatre industry is officially back open after being the first industry to shut down when the pandemic hit 18 months ago.

“It speaks to really taking advantage of every moment in a year,” said Broadway in Chicago President Lou Raizin. “That’s now.”

Raizin says opening with Rent’s 25th-anniversary farewell tour strikes a chord as he welcomes back the crowds.

“Rent really tells a story that I think is right for the moment, coming together, bonding as one and really thinking about time,” Raizin said.

Most years, 1.7 million people see Broadway in Chicago shows, creating a thousand jobs. But, last year, things disappeared, eliminating most industry jobs.

“It was incredibly painful going from a thousand people who work for us to 14,” Raizin said.

During the time off, Broadway in Chicago invested $2 million in safety, installing ventilation systems. In addition, Broadway in Chicago now requires all staff and patrons to be vaccinated. The hope is that it makes people comfortable coming back together.

“It was weird, definitely, not being able to go out and see concerts that sort of thing,” said Brian Fisher, a fan of Rent. “It is definitely nice to be back downtown, have dinner and now get to actually see something live for once. It’s definitely a great feeling, for sure.”