"We were walking innocently into the future with no idea what was coming," says Nica Burns, chief executive of Nimax Theatres.
On 16 March last year, she was watching a preview of the musical City of Angels that was due to open at the firm's Garrick Theatre.
"We knew we had something special," she said.
Within a couple of hours, cast and crew gathered in the bar for a sudden goodbye, sharing pizzas and drinks with colleagues they thought they would see in a few weeks' time.
That night, all theatres shut due to Covid-19. For most, their stages have been in darkness ever since.
"The last year for theatre has been hell... You couldn't have made it up in a play, a musical or a dream," Ms Burns told the BBC.
Like others, Nimax's costs have mounted but little cash has come in during lockdown.
A new survey by industry body UK Theatre found that 95% of 944 theatre venues, producers and businesses were worse off financially due to the pandemic. And 16 organisations reported losses of more than £5m in the last year.