Lyric Theatre unveils new look

Friday, November 28, 2014

By Shelley Koppel
Staff writer
Your Voice Weekly, November 28, 2015

MARTIN COUNTY — I can identify with the Lyric. The theater, which will turn 90 next year, was in need of a little-ahem-freshening and a little work. I am pleased to say that the Lyric has had it and the grand old gal looks great.

On Nov. 11-13, the theater held its Grand Re-opening Celebration. The event allowed donors to choose a night to come and see what had been going on at the theater since Memorial Day. After the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and a short slide show by Lyric executive director John Loesser, the audience was treated to a concert by Solid Gold, featuring Gregg Jackson. The show, “Dancing through the Decades,” featured music from the 1950s-1990s and had the audience clapping and singing along.

Changes are noticeable as soon as you enter the theater. The lobby seems bigger and more spacious and everything is fresh and bright. The Will Call booth has been moved from the center of the lobby, opening the space up. Display cases that used to house memorabilia are no longer at the entryway, again improving the flow of people through the lobby.

Inside the theater, the lovely new seats have cup holders, to do away with the problem of what you do with the beverage you’ve carried in to the theater when you want to applaud. The sound system has been upgraded to produce an even sound throughout the hall.

For Loesser, this experience has been the best and the worst of times.

“This started as a silent movie theater that’s morphed into a concert hall. We’ve changed the lighting, brought in curves and gained the impression of more room. I’m
very proud of the extraordinary effort and incredible work done by Greg Lewis of Conkling & Lewis Construction, even though, like all old building renovations, we faced a lot of surprises. We still opened as planned. I believe we’ve taken the Fillmore and made it into Carnegie Hall, an elegant concert hall. That’s truly what I think we’ve done.”

In the slide show presentation before the concert, Loesser highlighted some of the unexpected work, including structural work that was deemed necessary once the façade was removed. “It was a massive undertaking,” Loesser said. “We expected to put in new lighting and chairs. We didn’t expect to put in new columns. It was
built with river sand and river water and needed ‘new bones.’ When they took the old stucco off, they had to fix the structural work.”

As is often the case with renovation projects, finishing touches remain as the season opens. The exterior is going to be repainted and there are small things that need to be done. Again, as is often the case, the project cost more than it was budgeted for.

“I thought we could do it for $1 million,” Loesser said. “With the structural work, we spent around $400,000 more than anticipated. I wanted to pay for everything,
including the mortgage and for educational outreach. Therefore, the capital campaign has been extended until June, to make this the elegant concert hall this community deserves.”

Next year, the Lyric will celebrate its 90th birthday, and there will be appropriate ceremonies to commemorate the event. Kia Fontaine, the Lyric’s Assistant
Executive Director, said that the work was worth all the dislocation of the last six months.

“The project has been such an undertaking,” she said. “The summer’s renovations have preserved the Lyric for another 90 years.”

For more information about the Lyric Theatre, visit the website,

For information about the capital campaign, contact Linda Prange, development director, at (772) 220-1942, Ext. 209 or send an email to