London TheatreThe Lyric
Designed by the architect C. J. Phipps, it was built by the producer Henry Leslie with profits from the Alfred Cellier and B. C. Stephenson hit, Dorothy (he made £100,000 from this opera), which he transferred from the Prince of Wales Theatre to open his new venue on 17 December 1888. It was the second theatre to be constructed on this stretch of Shaftesbury Avenue and is now the oldest in the street. The foyer and bars were refurbished in 1932–33, and the facade was restored in 1994. At present, it seats 915 on four levels, although originally it was designed with a seating capacity of 1,306.
Early in the theatre's history, it staged mostly comic operas, and later it has been a home to light comedies, musicals and straight dramas.
The theatre retains many of its original features (including being built behind an original 1767 house front, at the rear of Great Windmill Street, the former house and museum of Sir William Hunter) and the theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in September 1960.
The Lyric Theatre still uses water to operate its iron curtain. Water was originally pumped from the river Thames to West End theatres and hotels and used to hydraulically operate heavy machinery like lifts. Hydraulic pressure is now provided by the electric pump, but it can also be operated manually by two people.
The Lyric Theatre has been owned by Nimax Theatres since 2005 when Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer purchased it from the Really Useful Group (establishing the new Nimax group with the Apollo Theatre, Garrick Theatre and Duchess Theatre.
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