The Lyric Theatre

OUR MISSION

"To provide the community with a home for the performing arts that entertains, educates, and stimulates the growth of artistic integrity and experience for everyone."
 

Todd Laycock        Paul Shirley                Mary Laub Cowan 
Board Chair            Board Vice Chair       Board Vice Chair         

Harold W. Walsh       Priscilla Baldwin     Kia Fontaine
Board Treasurer        Board Secretary     President / CEO

Board Members
George F. Bellows, Frank M. Byers, Jr., Patty Downing, Stephen Fry, Sharon Holt, Joan McGowan, Eileen D. Morris, Elliot M. Paul, Olene Stuart, Michael Tenzyk, Linda Weiksnar

Ethel Christin        John Loesser
Chair Emerita        Artistic Director Emeritus

Advisory Board
Daisy Carter, Elisabeth Lahti, Natalie MacDonald, Pat Pendergast, May Smyth
 

 

THE HISTORY OF THE LYRIC THEATRE

Weaving together the history of the Lyric Theatre over the past 95 years is story of community, commitment and connection.  A community who joined together to support and save this historic treasure is our story. The thriving Lyric Theatre we now know is a testament to you, our Community.   

Built in 1925 as silent movie house with a small stage for Vaudeville acts, The Lyric was the largest building in Martin County.  It was built at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars by Judge John Hancock and his wife, Mamie. The Lyric Building, as it was called had a 900-seat theatre and featured retail storefronts including Bailey’s Drug Store with an eleven-foot-long soda fountain counter. 

The Lyric opened its doors on March 15, 1926 with a special presentation featuring an overture by Mrs. Hancock on the pipe organ and screening of Skinner’s Dress Suit. With so much excitement from the community, The Lyric was packed to capacity and large numbers of people were turned away. The Stuart Daily News reported “judging from the attendance at theatre, The Lyric is going to be a mighty popular place.  It is indeed an ideal playhouse and one that every resident of Stuart might well be proud of.” 

Newly equipped with a sound picture machine, the first talkie ever screened in Martin County was featured on December 1, 1930. The Lyric was drawing record crowds and the Hancock’s received tremendous praise and support from the community. 

The Lyric fell on hard times, however, after the Great Depression.  Over the following years, it was rented out by many community groups and was used to present traveling vaudeville shows, news weeklies and movies.   

In 1978, The Lyric was purchased by the New Life in Christ Church that used the theatre for weekly worship services.  By 1987 the church wanted to move, and the theatre was put up for sale. 

Roy Laycock, a visionary and realtor, saw the historic Lyric as an anchor for downtown Stuart and a much-needed entertainment center for Martin County which would add to the quality of life and foster a sense of community pride. 

Knowing the historic building was essential to bring life back to downtown, Roy prepared terms to purchase the historic building from the Church. As he left his office to negotiate the deal, a colleague asked, do you have the funds to purchase The Lyric? And Roy replied, no. After entering into a verbal agreement to purchase the historic structure for $300,000 and a $5,000 deposit was required to finalize the contract. Roy went door to door seeking out ten $500 donors and within 24 hours, the funds were raised. 

Believing that Community should be the owner of The Lyric, Roy pulled together an amazing team of people with fundraising and operational backgrounds to help ignite and support his vision.

The church allowed the use the theatre for fundraising activities while it was under contract, which was a tremendous help. Fundraising, cash loans and personal guarantees by board members, made the purchase possible and the historic theatre was now owned by The Friends of the Lyric.

These visionaries were truly a working Board.  They ushered patrons, served drinks, cleaned the theatre, painted and patched and even prayed that the restrooms would work when there was a packed house.
 
Their payoff was the chance to gather weekly to pick the bands that would perform, and hopefully raise the much-needed funds to continue the vision.  If a Board member picked an artist, they were responsible for booking the act, marketing the show, selling the tickets, recruiting volunteers, loading and unloading the band’s equipment, and whatever else was needed to present the show.

With a building in great disrepair, two major grants were secured in 1993.  Community grassroot efforts and these grants provided the funds to repair the roof, tent the building for termites, repair holes in the plaster, reinforce the stage floor, upgrade the electrical wiring and rigging, add a new projection and control room, as well as many other improvements. 

Even with all of these repairs, there was still so much more that was needed to make The Lyric accessible and comfortable. The Balcony seats were tattered and covered with scat and the only way to access the balcony was the narrow stairways.  The community rose to the need again, and in 2001 an elevator and new balcony seats were installed.

In an interesting twist of fate, a lot immediately adjacent to The Lyric was made available to the Board of Directors to acquire in 1999 for an expansion. This future expansion was greatly needed to improve the artistic and cultural programing most importantly to provide a proper backstage for the national touring acts. At the time, a very small dressing room and the basement, which had no restroom facilities, were the only areas for artists to prepare for a show.  

Many rummage sales and fundraisers were held on this lot to raise the funds for the expansion and in 2004, the expansion project began with support and commitment from donors, patrons and community partners. The stage was enlarged by 16-feet and equipped The Lyric with a backstage and a restroom. This was next step, The Lyric was now able to present larger productions, including full scale orchestras and dance companies.  

As the Lyric was nearing 90 years of service to our community, she underwent an extensive facelift to elevate her interiors to match the high-caliber artists that perform on the stage. The 2014 renovation included structural repairs, new orchestra seating, remodeled Box Office and Lobby featuring a new bar and architectural elements and ornamentation was added.  

And now, it is hard to fathom that Our Lyric has been dark for over a year. But, once again, YOU our loyal supporters have been our light during these dark days. Your commitment makes it possible for The Lyric to once again open her doors and serve the Community. Heartfelt words of gratitude will never be enough to THANK YOU for your generous support.

The Lyric was built for the community and her community has come together time and time again to preserve and protect this historical gem and cultural resource. Providing access to arts and culture is essential to strengthening the power of change, making this a stronger community. We are dedicated to strengthening our commitment to empower, educate and inspire our leaders of tomorrow and providing a home for the performing arts in the Treasure Coast. 
 
Several weeks ago, when light at the end of the tunnel began to appear, an anonymous backstage angel was waiting in the wings, off stage, with a gift of five hundred thousand dollars payable over a period of time to begin these repairs and upgrades. 
The project, with no frills, includes a new roof; new air conditioning units with state-of-the-art air purification systems; new carpeting; new signage to replicate the historic “blade” signs of The Lyric’s past; restoration of the marquees; and the most requested high-rise toilets to accommodate our patrons. The budget for these repairs and upgrades is approximately one million dollars.  

Without this backstage angel and the unique opportunity this gift represents, we would not been able to contemplate these necessary repairs. This wonderful angel also saw this as the time for this project, while we are dark and while the world is not yet back to normal.  This gift of treasure and opportunity means that when The Lyric opens in Fall, she will be outfitted with the latest technology for your safety and comfort. 
 
Without YOUR annual support and commitment, particularly in this past year, we would never have announced our Next Act Campaign to fund this major renovation project.  You have once again committed to support Our Lyric.  
We are honored to lead this important campaign and encourage you to join us in a shared commitment to protect and preserve Our Lyric.  We will do our very best to ensure these capital gifts do not impinge on our annual operational support, which is so vital to our existence.  

We have already received two major gifts, totaling one hundred thousand dollars, as part of our quiet fundraising.  These days, cash up-front is important to secure materials in order to complete the project on schedule and we have secured a line of credit to support the cash flow to complete the renovations before Fall.  The Board of Directors has committed one hundred fifty-thousand dollars from the Building Fund to support the campaign.  But it is our intent to raise the funds to replace reserved savings for future repairs and maintenance, caring for an historic structure is a commitment. 
 

The Lyric Theatre / Friends of the Lyric, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization registered in the State of Florida. No goods or services may be  provided in connection with your contribution. 

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (CH1579) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION OF THE STATE.
Downloads:

Facility Tech Packet July 2019.docx.pdf
Seating Chart
RENTAL APPLICATION PACKET 2019-2020 (1).pdf