overview

Opened in 1903, the Lyric Theater staged several productions involving major LGBT performers and creators, including Clyde Fitch, Cole Porter, and Sarah Bernhardt, among others, before becoming a movie theater in 1934 The historic interior was demolished in 1996, and, incorporating portions of the interiors of the adjacent Apollo and Times Square Theaters, it reopened as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1998.

See New York Area Council of the Mattachine Society, Inc. at Avlon Studios for more information on this site’s LGBT history.

Header Photo
Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2022.

History

The Lyric Theater opened in 1903. An early LGBT-associated play here was Ourselves (1913) by Rachel Crothers. The Lyric also had several hits by LGBT creators and with LGBT performersplaywrights and composers:

  • The Blue Mouse (1908-09) by Clyde Fitch
  • The City (1909-10) by Clyde Fitch
  • Abe and Mawruss (1915-16) by Montague Glass and Roi Cooper Megrue
  • Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929-30), directed by Monty Woolley, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter
  • Run, Little Chillun (1933), a folk opera with an all-Black cast and considered one of the most successful musicals of the Harlem Renaissance, was written by Hall Johnson, who also was the choral director and composed the music, and included actor Edna Thomas and dancer Bruce Nugent

 

Other LGBT-associated productions at the Lyric included:

 

In 1934, legitimate theater ended here and it became a movie theater. The historic theater interior was demolished in 1996. Incorporating portions of the interiors of the adjacent Apollo Theater and Times Square Theater, it reopened as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1998. The first production was the hit Ragtime (1998-2000), by Terrence McNally (Best Book of a Musical Tony Award), with music by Stephen Flaherty (Best Original Musical Score Tony Award), and directed by Frank Galarti. The theater had several name changes: Hilton Theater in 2005, Foxwoods Theater in 2010, and a return to the Lyric Theater in 2014.

See New York Area Council of the Mattachine Society, Inc. at Avlon Studios for more information on this site’s LGBT history.

Entry by Jay Shockley, project director (June 2019, with multiple additions).

NOTE: Names above in bold indicate LGBT people.

Building Information

  • Architect or Builder: Victor H. Koehler
  • Year Built: 1903

Sources

  1. Internet Broadway Database.

  2. Mattachine Society, “New York Chapter,” Mattachine Review, May 1956, 8-9.

    1. Peter Marks, “Turning Two Historic Theaters Into One Big One,” The New York Times, January 17, 1996, C11.

Do you have more information about this site?

This project is enriched by your participation! Do you have your own images of this site? Or a story to share? Would you like to suggest a different historic site?

Curated Themes

44 Sites

Broadway Theater District

Other Sites in the Neighborhood

234 West 42nd Street
Liberty Theater
Performance Venues
1260 Sixth Avenue
Gay Activists Alliance Zap at Radio City Music Hall
Performance Venues
West 43rd Street (Between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)
Anti-Police Brutality Protest in Response to the Blue’s Bar Raids
Public Spaces