The Lyric Theatre opened in 1888, making it the oldest theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. The beautiful Renaissance design of the building was conceived by C.J. Phipps and garnered the theatre a Grade II listed status. Located near Piccadilly Circus underground station, the theatre is now one of five that are owned and run by Nimax Theatres.
Opening with a transfer of the comic opera, Dorothy, the original vision was for the venue to hold operetta. However, from 1916-1930, after holding several comic operas, the venue began to present a combination of operas and plays. In 1933, the theatre underwent refurbishment and reopened with a production of George S Kaufman’s Royal Family, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and directed by Noël Coward.
A decade later, impresario Prince Littler took over ownership of the theatre and decided to host a season of comedies. This season progressed into a run of musicals such as Blood Brothers, Gigi and Cameron Mackintosh’s five-star production of Five Guys Named Moe, which had a five-year run at the theatre. In recent years, the theatre has transferred between two new ownerships; firstly the Really Useful Group, who ran the venue from 2000; and subsequently Nimax, who has held ownership since 2005. The latter has put on a variety of successful shows in the theatre, and currently has hosted a decade-long run of the popular musical Thriller Live.
The Lyric has gained a reputation for hosting big musicals and classic plays in its Renaissance-designed auditorium, which has a capacity of 967 seats. The theatre has also hosted limited performances of shows including Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, and children’s shows such as What The Ladybird Heard and The Gruffalo’s Child.