The Lyric Theatre gets comfortable and elegant makeover

Friday, November 14, 2014

All summer and into this fall, scaffolding and construction workers outside of downtown Stuart’s The Lyric Theatre have made some wonder: What’s going on in there?

Since the start of its offseason, the entertainment venue has been going through renovations costing more than $1 million. The renovations include a new entrance, orchestra seating, lighting, bar, carpeting and a new sound system, along with fixed structural problems.

“The Lyric is approaching 90 years — we wanted to make it more comfortable, more elegant ... and we encountered some structural issues we needed to fix so the theater can stay standing another 90 years,” said executive director John Loesser.

Loesser said a campaign to raise money for the renovations started nearly three years ago, when the Lyric set a goal to raise $3 million for physical improvements, programs and to pay off its debt, which is its mortgage of about $500,000.

Although the theater hasn’t yet met its goal, it raised enough money — Loesser would not say how much — through private donations for the renovations. Loesser said the changes will turn “what looked like The Fillmore (Theatre) into Carnegie Hall.”

“It’s fresh and more comfortable, but still the same Lyric,” Loesser said. “Our programming won’t change. It won’t impact ticket prices.”

The renovations are near completion, with some final touches still in the works. Until its box office is complete sometime this month, Loesser said,the theater will have a temporary ticket counter at Stuart Coffee Company next door.

This week, the Lyric’s supporters got a first look at the changes during a three-day tour and cocktail hour, along with a performance of Solid Gold’s “Dancing through the Decades.”

The public gets to see the more modern-looking theater Friday, when “A Night at the Opera” kicks off the Lyric’s 2014-15 season.

“It’s a classy renovation that was tastefully done,” said Mike Braid, of Stuart, who frequents the theater. “I was afraid it was going to takeaway from the charm of this almost 100-year-old structure, but it didn’t. The now more modern lobby blends in and doesn’t clash with the character of the building.”

The building was built in 1926 and was a silent movie house until the Depression, when it closed and was sold and bought several times.

In 1987, it was remodeled to become The Lyric.

What’s new at The Lyric?

Entrance: The doors are now clear glass, allowing more light into the lobby, making it seem bigger. The old doors were 1970s aluminum doors.

Carpet: The old carpet with designs has been replaced with a simpler, solid brown carpet.

Walls: The walls have been smoothed from their rough texture.

Box office: The box office has moved to the main entrance that faces Flagler Avenue.

Bar: A professional bar has replaced the older one, and has moved closer to the second entrance on Osceola Street.

Seats: The seats have been replaced with new ones with cupholders.

Lights: Aisle lights now light the way for guests.

Structure: The columns have been repaired.

Ceilings: The ceiling in the auditorium are darker, giving the illusion that it disappears.

Sound system: A new system provides better sound.

The Lyric Theatre

Where: 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart

Tickets and Information:; 772-286-7827

November shows: Nov. 14, "A Night at The Opera ~ Starring Lorrianna Colozzo; Nov. 18, “The Never Everglades”; Nov. 20, 21, “An Evening with Clint Black”; Nov. 24, “Movie Music”