The History Of Lyric Theatre
Leongatha Lyric Theatre came into existence in 1965, when some local teachers and members of a struggling Leongatha dramatic group met to form a new theatre group which they named Leongatha Lyric Theatre – commonly referred to as “Lyric Theatre”, or just plain “Lyric”.
A local music teacher and singer named Lyn Carr, who had recently moved to the area, was the driving force behind this new group, and was the director and musical director of the group’s first two productions.
The performance venue for the group was Mesley Hall, the Leongatha High School’s new assembly hall, and this has been the venue chosen by Leongatha Lyric Theatre for almost every production since then.
Since its formation, productions have included musicals ranging from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial By Jury to Fiddler on The Roof, Godspell, Canterbury Tales and Jesus Christ Superstar; pantomimes; plays ranging from Twelve Angry Men to Stepping Out, Educating Rita and The Rainmaker; touring variety productions; and youth theatre pieces such as Bats, Hating Alison Ashley, and King MacBee And The Walking Trees.
Our productions draw patrons from a wide area, and our local businesses have always been very supportive in terms of materials and financial sponsorship.
“The Roar of The Greasepaint”, a 300 page book detailing the history of Leongatha Lyric Theatre from formation on February 8, 1965 to the end of December 2004, was launched during the group’s four-day costume exhibition and reunion in the Memorial Hall, Leongatha, which was part of Lyric Theatre’s 40th year celebrations.
A second book, “Fifty Years of Theatre”, was launched during the group’s two-day costume exhibition and reunion in the Memorial Hall, Leongatha, in February 2015 as part of Lyric Theatre’s 50th birthday celebrations. It covered the years from formation to the end of December, 2015 and included many photos in its 170 pages.
In 1978 Lyric Theatre purchased a block of land on the estate at 8 Watson Road, and work began on building in April the following year. The completed building was officially opened in February 1980 by Woorayl Shire President, Councillor Ted Fisher. It was at first used to store all the group’s properties – scenery, costumes, and lighting equipment – and for scenery construction, but there was still need for a rehearsal space and the quantity of costumes was rapidly expanding.
In 1992, a building at 13 Watson Road was purchased by Lyric Theatre for use as a costume store and rehearsal studio. This building already contained a small kitchen and toilet. In later years, as the costume store continued to expand, there was a need for more rehearsal space, and the group built a rehearsal studio at the rear of the costume store which was opened in February 2006 and named the Eagger Studio.
After years of unsuccessful lobbying for an arts centre to be built in Leongatha, Lyric Theatre members decided to concentrate on up-grading the facilities at Mesley Hall. They refurbished the tiered seating system and purchased 180 new seats for it in September 2014.
In 2016 this work in Mesley Hall was followed up with the purchase of another 100 seats to go on the floor in front of the tiered seating, and curtains to hang on the side walls of the auditorium to further enhance the theatre atmosphere in time for the group’s performance season of Mary Poppins in July.
In 2017 more curtains were added and the spotlights are now operated from platforms that swing out from the walls.