Illawarra theatre companies are beginning to come out of hibernation with an array of shows popping up on the social calendar.
From well-known musicals to sing along to, comedies, pantomimes and locally written original works, the curtains are being raised on stages across the region.
Geoffrey Sykes is an independent director, and "devised" Paradise Now which will be the first play since COVID-19 that Wollongong Workshop Theatre (WWT) will have on stage.
The piece of "performance poetry" which pulls together well-known verse from various sources, runs this Saturday and again on November 28.
Mr Sykes and his team have booked the venue themselves, eager to show their work to audiences who are starting to venture out and embrace the arts again.
"Often the smaller theatres are booked out [for independent directors] so it's good," he said.
"Shows are starting up again, I don't know what the case will be next year ... but it's good."
At this time it's the only independent work the WWT has booked, but president Juliet Scrine said they have five well-known shows in their main season scheduled for 2021.
Four of them will be comedies - starting with Boeing Boeing once made famous by Tony Curtis in the 1965 film version.
"It's about time we had something to laugh about," she said.
Mrs Scrine, who is also CEO of the Eaton Gorge Theatre Company, said it was like "someone's pushed a big red button" to get the industry going again.
"We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
Arcadians, renowned for musicals, have used the downtime for renovations to their Miner's Lamp Theatre in Corrimal with major updated to lighting, the box office, staging and more.
President Liza Allen said they were lucky enough to have money already set aside for upgrades, so were now focusing on getting back bigger and better.
They will open with the musical thriller Sweeney Todd in March.
The Phoenix and Roo theatre companies have both already flung their doors open, with more shows on the way.
The Phoenix will continue to focus on quirky and obscure theatre, while pantomimes and musicals will play out in Shellharbour.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be presented by the Roo in January.
The Copeland family's production company So Popera is back up and running with the musical Grease running in January at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, while the Stanwell Park Arts Theatre Company is preparing for The Sound of Music in April and May.
Meantime, Wollongong's professional theatre company Merrigong is ramping up what they're offering audiences. Their CEO Simon Hinton said they had a lot of shows lined up for 2021, but due to government funding being handed out, won't be ready to announce everything until February.
Shows already locked in across summer include the dance work Sacre in January, The Wharf Revue and Bluey's Big Play in February.
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