The Lyric Theatre opened on 17 Dec. 1888 and was designed by C J Phipps. It was commissioned by Henry J. Leslie as an operetta house, the first production being a transfer of Dorothy from the Prince of Wales Theatre, starring Marie Tempest. The theatre has housed various types of theatre, including operetta and comedy, but has mainly seen plays and musicals take up residence in the twentieth century. Notable productions include The Chocolate Soldier by Oscar Straus, an operetta setting of George Bernard Shaw’s play Arms and the Man.
A 1933 redecoration of the building made way for a production of The Royal Family by George S Kaufman with a roster of talent in its cast, including Laurence Olivier. Over the next 50 years, the Lyric housed plays, but this changed in 1983 with the arrival of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers which won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Blood Brothers then returned to the West End in 1988, playing for 25 years.
1990 saw the arrival of Five Guys Named Moe, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, which ran for five years, and was followed by a revival of another musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’, featuring the music of Fats Waller. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn’s musical By Jeeves transferred from the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1996. The theatre then saw another healthy succession of almost solidly plays until the arrival of Thriller Live, which played for over a decade. The world premiere of Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story took place at the Lyric Theatre. Nimax Theatres has owned the Lyric Theatre since 2005.
The auditorium has four levels – Stalls, Dress Circle, Upper Circle and Balcony. In the Stalls, the view of the stage is slightly obscured by the overhang of the Dress Circle in Rows Q and R. Of note, pillars support the Dress Circle and do hinder the view from certain seats at the back of the Stalls.
In the Dress Circle, the view is compromised by pillars in Row F and beyond, and the shallow rake of the Dress Circle does not guarantee great views for shorter patrons.
The Upper Circle offers rather shallow legroom and whilst the overhang of the Balcony above does not hinder the view, the low ceiling may make some people feel a little claustrophobic.
Of note, the Balcony is very high up and offers little legroom, but the seats, other than the designated restricted view seats at the side of the auditorium, do offer a good view of the stage.
Location: West End Railway station: Charing Cross Bus numbers: (Shaftesbury Avenue) 12, 14, 19, 38; (Regent Street) 6, 13, 15, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453 Night bus numbers: (Shaftesbury Avenue) 14, N19, N38; (Regent Street) 6, 12, 23, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453, N3, N13, N15, N109, N18, N136 Car park: Brewer Street (3mins) Directions from tube: (3mins) Take Shaftesbury Avenue along the side where the famous illuminated signs are. The theatre will be on your left about 100 metres along.