Nineteen-year-old Mary O’Reilly has been performing with the Stars Theater since the age of five.

“My first show was The Wizard of Oz, and I was a munchkin,” O’Reilly said.

But then the pandemic struck and the stage lights went out for 16 months. O’Reilly said she misses having the stars as an outlet for what she loves most.

“It was terrible. It’s my favorite thing to do around the world, ”said O’Reilly. “I go to school in NYU and to sing, so I had to quit school and come back to Bakersfield. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and it’s really sad to have to sing online, but I’m so glad to be back. It’s crazy!”

As O’Reilly said, the stage at the Stars Theater and restaurant is once again echoing with music. On Friday evening, dinner and theater guests attended a long-awaited opening night of “A Grand Night for Singing” by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

“We had to rely on our customers to get us through this, and luckily everything went well for us. We have been very lucky and blessed to still be here, ”said Alex Neal, Director of Theater Operations for the Stars Theater.

It took a bit of creativity to get things done until they reopened, according to Neal.

“We had to try our hand at different skills. We had virtual performances for a while, I think four virtual productions, to varying degrees, trying us in different ways of producing video, ”Neal said. “We also have take-out dinners for a short time.”

Neal mentioned that Stars had to apply for local and federal grants, including P3 loans, and put almost all of the employees on leave for a while.

“We tried to keep as many people as possible, as long as we could, and tried different ways to keep them employed. Neal said. “We have had to put a lot of our employees on leave, but we’re happy to say that we’ve offered everyone back to their jobs.”

So this return for staff, patrons and performers means a lot.

“I just hope they can get as excited and happy as we are,” O’Reilly said. “This is very fun.”

If you miss the Friday show, you’ll have the chance to watch it again on Saturday or the next three weekends, Friday through Sunday. Also opening at their Rosedale location, Stars Playhouse is “A Servant of Two Masters.” Ticket information can be found here.