History The theatre was originally built in 1903 and was then known as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. In the 1990s, the original Lyric Theatre was combined with the adjacent Apollo Theatre to form the Ford Center. The new theatre was renovated and reopened in 1998 under the direction of Livent’s Garth Drabinsky, who commissioned the project.
In 2005, the theatre was bought by Live Nation and renamed the Hilton Theatre. In 2010, the theatre was acquired by the Ambassador Theatre Group and rebranded as the Foxwoods Theatre.
The most significant renovation took place in 2014 when the venue was revamped to accommodate the specific requirements of the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child“. This involved reducing the seating capacity from 1,932 to 1,622 to create a more intimate experience and redesigning the auditorium to fit the production’s needs. After these changes, the theatre was again renamed, this time as the Lyric Theatre.
Notable Productions The Lyric Theatre has hosted a variety of notable productions throughout its history. Some of the famous shows that were hosted here include:
- “Ragtime” (1998-2000): This was the inaugural show when the theatre was opened as the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a musical based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and a book by Terrence McNally.
- “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (2011–2014): This was one of the most expensive productions in Broadway history, featuring music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge. It was noted for its extensive use of aerial acrobatics.
- “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (2018–Present): This two-part play written by Jack Thorne, based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Thorne, is set 19 years after the events of the final Harry Potter book. The production made significant renovations to the Lyric Theatre to accommodate the play’s complex staging and magical effects.
Architecture The Lyric Theatre has a unique architectural style. The facade features a grand arch flanked by two smaller ones, all decorated with lavish terracotta ornamentation. The interior, particularly after the 2014 renovation, reflects a rich, magical aesthetic to accommodate the Harry Potter play. The lobby features a winged nest with floating candles, the house is decked with Hogwarts house banners, and the walls of the theatre are covered with Harry Potter-related designs, contributing to an immersive experience.
As the theatre has gone through various ownership and name changes over the years, it has continued to be a significant player in the Broadway theatre community. The Lyric Theatre’s unique blend of historical significance and modern adaptability makes it a distinctive location within the realm of live theater.