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The Lyric Theatre opened as a vaudeville venue in 1914. The architecture resembles the bell of a trumpet to maximize the acoustics and close seating needed for vaudeville shows. Stars such as the Marx Brothers, Mae West and Milton Berle played the Lyric. Tickets cost 25 to 75 cents.
The Lyric was converted to a movie house by the 1930s as theatrical revues were replaced by moving pictures. The theatre welcomed whites through the doors beneath its glitzy marquee. Black customers had to enter through a nondescript side door and climb a narrow staircase to the colored balcony. It was, however, one of the ﬁ rst venues in the South where black and white audiences could watch the same movie at the same time.
By the 1970s, the Lyric was shuttered and
largely forgotten until a recent fundraising campaign successfully raised money for an $11 million restoration. When the Lyric reopened to the public in January 2016, the interior was completely reconstructed and the iconic Lyric marquee was restored and relit, bringing another gem to Birmingham s historic theater district. The theater also has noted the days of segregation; the glass on the side door is etched with the words Historic Colored Entrance.
With 750 seats on two levels and 12 opera boxes, the Lyric is an intimate 60 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony. The theater now presents a regular schedule of top-name performances of all varieties. The venerable Southern Living magazine calls the Lyric Theatre one of the 50 Best Places in the South. lyricbham.com
The Lyric Theatre