The first standing ovation for Hadestown came during the opening moments on Thursday night, when a “Welcome back to Hadestown” announcement was almost drowned out by the thunder of cheering and applause. It took almost a full minute before the show could continue, reminding the audience to turn their cellphones down and keep their masks up.

Hadestown, at the Walter Kerr Theater on 48th Street, was one of two Broadway musicals that reopened this week almost a year and a half after the Great White Way went dark. (The other musical was Waitress, which is making a surprise, short-run return after closing in January 2020.)

The show is a New Orleans-flavored re-telling of the Eurydice and Orpheus myth, with a jazzy score from Anaïs Mitchell and hauntingly directed by Rachel Chavkin. It won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Co-producer Jonathan DeMar was in the audience on reopening night, and said, “We’re coming back stronger than ever. I’m proud to be part of it, and to be in this room tonight with this audience — I couldn’t think of a better way to kickstart the Broadway season.”

The audience seemed to think so, too — it was a joyous, almost giddy, greeting most big numbers received. Each introduction of a new character was followed by audience members rising to their feet. It was delirious when Andre de Shields, who plays Hermes and serves as the narrator, started with his usual, drawn out, “Aight?”

“I’m thrilled for Broadway to be back,” said Jamila Ponton Bragg, from Harlem. “I saw Hadestown in 2019 and was excited to see it again, especially Andre de Shields. And that standing ovation that he got, it was amazing.”

Has much changed about the theater-going experience? Entering the venue was smooth, despite new requirements that everyone show proof of vaccination and be masked, in addition to the usual bag check, metal detectors, and ticket scan. And the house doors opened earlier than pre-pandemic days to avoid a crush. Unfortunately, the restroom lines at intermission were the as pre-pandemic days (“I have no idea if I’m on line, or which direction it’s going, or where the bathrooms actually are,” one woman admitted).

Notably, ushers stood holding large signs that read: “Masks Up.” (And the audience did just that.)

Jennifer Vanasco / Gothamist

Following a rapturous ovation, director Chavkin spoke very briefly to the audience. “I just wanted to say thank you for being here. We’re happy to be back,” she said. “This is a family and it’s nice to be together again.”

Mitchell said simply, “Thank you for keeping the faith.”

Then the crowd poured into the street. The cast and band stood on the two balconies outside the theater and showered those below with rose petals, the plastic carnations that symbolize the ranunculus flowers in the show, and, after jamming to “Way Down in Hadestown,” a soaring, harmonized version of “Lean on Me.”