Theater celebrates 90 years in style

Friday, February 12, 2016

Shelley Koppel
Staff writer
Friday, February 10, 2016

STUART – Ninety years ago, the Lyric Theatre opened to the public as a movie house. The first feature was “Skinner’s Dress Suit.” Four years later, in 1930, the theater was equipped with RCA Photophone sound machines and showed one of the first “talkies,” “Danger Lights.”
Now the Lyric Theatre is throwing itself a birthday party and you’re invited. On March 3, the Lyric will hold a 90th Birthday Celebration, Auction and Roast. The “roastee?” - Lyric artistic director John Loesser.

The roast will feature host Jim Brochu, seen at the Lyric in “Zero Hour” several seasons ago. Also on tap to target Loesser are comedians Steve Solomon and Freddy Roman, both Lyric favorites.

Loesser said he’s looking forward to being skewered.

“It’s going to be a whole bunch of fun,” he said. “I found pictures of me that are hysterical. Even I didn’t remember what I looked like. There will be celebrity short videos dissing me. Members of the audience can bid to do whatever they want to me. Who knows who’ll get up and say something, Kia (Lyric executive director Kia Fontaine) will be up there, I’m sure, telling people what I’m really like. Hordes of people want to get a last chance at me because I’m not doing this again. Take a shot and help support the Lyric.”

Of course, this is a birthday party for the Lyric, a subject never far from Loesser’s mind.
“It’s a fundraiser,” he said.

“We’re going to auction off some really terrific stuff. People will be wined and dined with wait staff going through the theater. We hope to raise in excess of $100,000.”

Jim Brochu, the host, first met John Loesser five years ago, when both were giving lectures on theater and show business on a cruise ship.
“We had lunch,” Brochu said.

“We were instant friends on the first day. He had me come down for my ‘Zero’ show. When I’m in Florida or he’s in New York, we try to get together. His passion for what he does is unparalleled. He wants to bring the best to Stuart. He brings a wonderful mix and he’s very persuasive.”

Brochu said the evening will be lot of fun. He’s been watching the old Dean Martin roasts to get ideas about keeping things moving. He promises surprises, including celebrity guest videos.

“It’s important not to take attention away from the honoree or other speakers,” he said. “My job is to help make it a fun evening.”
And what about the roasting portion of the program?

“It’s all mud slung with a great deal of kindness,” he said.

The birthday party is not the last celebratory event. On March 6, the Lyric will hold an open house for members from 3-7 p.m. to celebrate the burning of the mortgage.

“It’s a ceremony to formally burn the mortgage,” he said. “A member from the fire department will be there to watch, to make sure we don’t burn the place down. It’s sponsored by Oculina Bank, who holds the mortgage. How often does a bank underwrite the burning of a mortgage they hold? I think it’s admirable and funny. We’ll also toast our successful end to the Love the Lyric campaign. Now it’s on to the next 90 years.”

The Lyric Theatre’s 90th Birthday Celebration Auction & Roast will take place March 3 at the theater, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart. The silent auction begins at 6 p.m. A live auction and roast begin at 7:30. Tickets are $125 and sponsorships are available.

Contact Linda Prange at (772) 220-1942, ext. 209 or development@

Members are invited to the open house March 6 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Memberships are available. Visit the website at for more information.