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 Lyric Theatre 

 Mobile, Alabama 



Corner of Conti & Joachim Streets
Opened: October 22, 1906 
Architect: Stone Bros., New Orleans 
2200 seats (approximately) 


  1906 postcard photo of the Lyric Theatre  



The Lyric Theatre bridged the stage & film eras in Mobile. Mobile had since antebellum days been an important theater town - the Mobile Theatre on Royal Street was the first anchor of Ludlow & Smith's famous Mobile-New Orleans- St. Louis circuit.

So while the "legitimate" theatre continued at the Mobile Theatre, the Lyric was constructed to present the new form of popular entertainment: vaudeville.   Shubert and independent attractions were booked by the Interstate Amusement Company which operated the Majestic vaudeville circuit.

Movies also were always on the bill -- from the theatre's first night.  The Lyric contracted with George Spoor's Kinodrome service to provide films, equipment, & operators.


Lyric vaudeville bill




The two-balcony house included an elaborate proscenium, an ornate fire curtain decorated with a view of Mobile's handsome Bienville Square, & warm acoustics typical of auditoriums utilizing much wood in the construction.



Click for a closer look at the Lyric interior

Click for a closer look at the interior of the Lyric Theatre





By 1906, stage technology for vaudeville in particular had reached a height of technical efficiency for moving diverse shows in & out with maximum speed at the minimum of cost.   The Lyric's seating capacity, stage facilities & fashionable newness made it attractive for special touring shows which would some nights run instead of the usual vaudeville bill.

In its early days, large stage productions such as "Ben Hur" (with elaborate chariot race spectacle) were presented at the Lyric. President Woodrow Wilson addressed the representatives of Latin-American states from the Lyric's stage during the Southern Commercial Congress in 1913.

The Lyric hosted W.C. Fields, Geraldine Farrar, Richard Strauss (conducting his "Salome"), Sara Bernhardt, Burns & Allen, road companies of Ziegfeld's "Follies" & George White's "Scandals", & others.



Another chariot race spectacle!

"Ben Hur" returns to the Lyric in 1925, this time as MGM's blockbuster roadshow movie




In 1927, the Mobile Saenger theatre opened across the street, & competition proved difficult for the Lyric.
Later that year, the Lyric was leased to the Saenger organization.

When live shows needed a theatre, Saenger usually presented them at the Lyric to avoid disruption of the Mobile Saenger theatre's movie presentations.
Still, Saenger operated the Lyric primarily in an all-movies format.



Fangs of Justice movie bill

Curtis Willard, a union projectionist at both the Lyric & Saenger theatres in Mobile, recalls that the two theatres were similar in many ways, but the Lyric came to be considered the "B-Movie & Westerns house".



  The Mobile Saenger & Lyric theatres, ca. 1948  

Downtown Mobile, about 1948.

The Saenger theatre, with enormous cooling tower on the roof for its air conditioning, is at left.
The Lyric theatre is at right.




In April of 1950, the Lyric theatre was razed to accommodate construction of a parking lot.



A tambourine & horn can be seen in this fragment of mosiac from the Lyric Theatre.


Appling Antiques & Architecturals, Mobile.



Other information:

  New Lyric Theatre, Mobile, Alabama, photograph at the Library of Congress American Memory site


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