Mission & History
The mission of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is to produce quality professional theatre; to encourage and educate talented individuals; to promote collaboration among the arts; and to enrich the quality of life for the people of Oklahoma.
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is now a nationally-recognized, Broadway-caliber theatre, but it came from humble beginnings. On November 7, 1962, 14 prominent Oklahomans gathered at the Beacon Club to discuss the idea of forming a professional theatre company. Lyric's founders include those whose names are still well-known today: Charles Bennett, James A. Bermingham, Jr., Luther T. Dulaney, Jack Durland, Dow Gumerson, Breene Kerr, John E. Kirkpatrick, Hardin Masters, Don Watters, J. Robert Wootten, Mrs. Gordon Ferguson (Mary Ruth), Mrs. E. L. Gaylord (Thelma), Mrs. Norman Handle (Bea) and Mrs. Don Gardner (Dora Lee).
Lyric produced its first three-show season at Oklahoma City University's Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Auditorium in the summer of 1963. Lyric's seasons grew in scale and scope as the years progressed, and that formative period established Lyric as an artistic powerhouse in Oklahoma City.
In the 1990s, Lyric saw an opportunity to expand the level of its artistic product in a much larger venue at the newly renovated Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City. Lyric opened its inaugural Civic Center production- THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES- on the evening of June 25, 2002, and has produced its summer season at that venue since. In the years following this major change, Lyric's productions began to gain even more national attention. In 2005, USA Today named Lyric one of the "10 Great Places to See the Lights Off-Broadway."
As major changes occurred to Lyric's summer season, Lyric's leaders began envisioning a future as a year-round theatre, producing more than large-scale musicals during the summer months. In 2000, the Plaza Theatre was purchased by Lyric. Ten million dollars was raised to renovate the theatre and other buildings. In 2007, the pristine, 279-seat Plaza Theatre opened its doors allowing for four additional shows to be added to Lyric's season in the spring and fall. You can read more about the history of the Plaza Theatre here.
Lyric also purchased another building a half block west of the Plaza Theatre in 2000, which eventually became the home of the Thelma Gaylord Academy. The academy was established to specifically nurture young artistic talent and is committed to providing a safe, fun and educational environment focused on cultivating the musical theatre performers of tomorrow, as well as creating a love for theatre in all students which will last their entire lives. Read more about our academy here.
Another extension of Lyric's community arts outreach is its Musical Interactive program. This troupe of actors travels to schools around the state performing an adapted version of a musical that is entertaining and educational. Read more about Musical Interactive here.
Lyric provides over 250 jobs annually and employs nationally recognized directors, designers, actors, artists and artisans who join local professionals from across the state. The theatre operates under an URTA contract with Actors' Equity Association and employs members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Musicians Local 375-703 and I.A.T.S.E. Local 112. Lyric is proud to be Oklahoma's leading professional theatre and continually strives to produce Broadway-caliber productions for Oklahoma audiences.