The mission of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is to produce quality professional theatre in Oklahoma; to encourage and educate talented individuals; to promote collaboration among the arts in our community; and to enrich the quality of life for the people of Oklahoma. Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is a nationally-recognized, Broadway-caliber theatre. But to say that it came from humble beginnings would be an understatement
On November 7, 1962, fourteen prominent Oklahomans gathered at the Beacon Club to discuss the idea of forming a professional theatre company. The names of those in attendance are still well-known today.
James A. Bermingham, Jr.
Luther T. Dulaney
John E. Kirkpatrick
J. Robert Wootten
Mrs. Gordon Ferguson (Mary Ruth)
Mrs. E. L. Gaylord (Thelma)
Mrs. Norman Handle (Bea)
Mrs. Don Gardner (Dora Lee)
Summer of 1963
In the summer of 1963, Lyric produced its first season at the Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Auditorium at Oklahoma City University. As the years progressed the seasons grew, and Lyric established itself as an artistic powerhouse in Oklahoma City.
In the 1990s, Lyric saw an opportunity to expand to downtown Oklahoma City.
In the late 90s, the Company began seeking out new opportunities to expand the scale of its productions and evolve its once-tiny theatre into an artistic icon for the city. The newly-renovated Civic Center Music Hall emerged as the perfect venue to help Lyric transform into a large-scale, broadway-calibre theatre company.
The Plaza Theatre was purchased by Lyric.
As Lyric’s summer seasons continued to grow in popularity and production quality, the company’s leaders began envisioning a future as a year-round theatre. Their hope was to expand Lyric’s productions to more than just large-scale summer musicals. With this grand vision in mind, Lyric purchased the Plaza Theatre and raised ten million dollars to renovate the theatre and other nearby structures.
One of Lyric’s other major expansions came in 2000 when they acquired the building that now houses the Thelma Gaylord Academy, just west of the Plaza Theatre. The Academy’s mission is to nurture young artistic talent and provide a safe, fun, and educational environment for the performers of tomorrow. The hope is to create a love of theatre in all students, a love that will last a lifetime.
On the evening of June 25, 2002, the Civic Center curtain rose on the inaugural production of Will Rogers Follies and Lyric’s summer seasons have called the theater home ever since.
By 2005, Lyric Theatre had begun gaining national attention, being named as one of the “10 Great Places to See the Lights Off-Broadway” by the USA Today.
In 2007, The Plaza Theatre opened its doors bringing four additional shows to Lyric’s season in the Spring and Fall. The theatre has served as a catalyst for the revitalization of the historic Plaza District on 16th Street, an area of the city that had seen a dramatic decline in the 70s and 80s.
Lyric Theatre Today
Lyric’s reach extends far beyond the Civic Center and Plaza Theatre.
Lyric’s community arts outreach, Musical Interactive, travels to schools around the state performing an adapted version of a musical that is both entertaining and educational.
The theatre now provides over 250 jobs annually and employs local professionals from across Oklahoma alongside nationally recognized directors, designers, actors, artists and artisans. The theatre operates under a URTA contract with Actors’ Equity Association and employs members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Musicians Local 375-703, and I.A.T.S.E. Local 112.