Theatres are looking forward to welcoming audiences in again after being closed for 14 months – with some taking a more cautious approach.

In East Lancashire, additional restrictions have meant that theatres have been unable to open since last March so actors, actresses and stage crew are all raring to go.

The easing of restrictions on May 17 will allow theatres to return however they will be running at a reduced capacity to allow for social distancing.

Some theatres are waiting for a bit longer to book shows in case the restrictions change for them as they have done many times before.

In Blackburn, chairman of the Empire Theatre, Michael Berry, is excited to be welcoming his theatre family back again from June 4.

He said: “I just want everything to go smoothly to get as strong as we were 18 months ago “I am so optimistic and so looking forward to seeing everybody – the artists, the staff, the volunteers, the audiences, everyone.”

Because of restrictions, theatres can only run at half capacity so the Empire theatre can only welcome about 150 customers until restrictions are lifted further.

Michael added: “That means artists aren’t going to get as much money because of the tickets.

“But they don’t mind because there is no other feeling like walking on a stage in front of an audience and listening to the audience coming back at you.

“It’s magic and the artists have all missed that.”

In Oswaldtwistle, the Civic Arts Centre and Theatre has already opened for some children’s classes and will open for adult classes on May 17.

However bosses are remaining cautious about when they will welcome audiences back into the theatre again.

Creative director Gayle Knight said: “We tried to open twice already in September and late October and it got changed as we were about to open.

“We are taking it a bit more cautiously this time so until we get absolute confirmation that we will be able to open.

“It’s been frustrating, it’s been difficult but we have been planning and preparing for months.

“We are really optimistic. Things do feel different this time.”

The theatre is hoping to host shows after June 21 in the biggest lifting of measures in a hope they will be able to stay open for good.