For nearly 100 years, people have been entertained inside the historic Lyric Theatre. The downtown landmark hosted live theatrical productions from 1912 to the early 1930s, and then it was converted into a movie house during the Depression. The Lyric stayed that way for 50 years until 1984, when the Tupelo Community Theatre purchased the historic building for $100,000.
“It took every penny we had, but we made a good purchase in ’84 because the theater building today is supposedly worth more than $2 million,” says Tom Booth, executive director of the Tupelo Community Theatre, which stages its performances at the Lyric Theatre.
“The building was never shut down for any long period of time during its long history, so it has never had a chance to get run down. It is quite a place.”
The Lyric is an art deco structure with its original marquee. Booth estimates that nearly $2 million in renovation costs has gone into the historic theater over the past few years.
“Since 2001, the Tupelo Community Theatre has been a part of a Mississippi Arts Commission grant program called ‘Building for the Arts,’ which helps cities make improvements to their art venues,” he says.
“We received $400,000 from the commission to make improvements to our auditorium, which included upgrading all of the 464 seats on the main floor and balcony.”
Tupelo Community Theatre was founded in 1969 and offers an annual, five-show season that runs from September through May. There are more than 1,100 season ticket holders who support the theater, and many of the scheduled shows are musicals and comedies.
“We are a talented organization that has won several awards from the Mississippi Theatre Association,” Booth says.
“TCT also gives back to the community with youth workshops, educational events, college scholarships and much more. We enjoy being in Tupelo, and invite all Tupelo and Lee County citizens to come out and see a play.”
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