Thursday, 26 October 2017 11:07

Lyric Theatre marks important milestone

Written by  Joey Donnelly, Lyric Notes
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As the nation concludes its Canada 150 celebrations, the Lyric Theatre marks its 105th birthday this week.


The Lyric first opened its doors while it was still under construction in late October 1912. A reporter noted that the management was under considerable pressure to get the theatre ready for entertainment purposes. As the paint dried, he wrote that the Metropolitan Ladies’ Orchestra of Chicago “gave a most delightful concert… to a large and appreciative audience.”
That initial event was soon followed by a variety of other shows, including Miss Verna Felton and the Allen Players, a series of silent films and a middleweight wrestling match featuring the Canadian and Minneapolis champs.
Later that December, a hospital benefit performance for “the little folks” was held and starred Tom Marks. The children who attended the concert came early, each hugging a large potato for admission. 
One dollar was given to the child with the largest potato and several barrels were handed over to the hospital. By all accounts, the show was a success.
“Old Tom still has his bull dog with him and neither one looks any-the worse for the strenuous life of the man on the road,” The Sun reported.
The Lyric in its early days presented a dizzying variety of entertainment but to set the record straight, we aren’t the oldest running theatre in Saskatchewan.  That distinction goes to The Grand Theatre in Indian Head, which was built in 1904 and has continuously run as a theatre since the day it opened. In 2014, the community purchased the building, and like the Lyric, contributes to the local arts scene.
While we’re making amends with history, it’s also worth mentioning that the Lyric has occasionally presented shows that would be considered unacceptable today. In February 1926, local performers gave a three-act minstrel review, a variety show that mocked people of African decent.
Today, the Lyric adheres to the themes of Canada’s sesquicentennial: diversity and reconciliation. We’re particularly excited to present along with Living Sky Casino, The Cypress Hills Would Never Be the Same.
The historical musical drama written by Stew Tasche returns for five shows, November 14 to 18 and chronicles the tumultuous period in the Cypress Hills during the 1870s. 
This latest production features a monologue and song for a new character, Crow Mary, an Indigenous woman played by Madonna Hamel from Val Marie.
In the spirit of reconciliation, on Friday, November 17 at 2 pm, playwright Stew Tasche and actors Joseph Naytowhow and Noel Starblanket will host a special discussion about Treaty 4. The public is encouraged to attend.
Upcoming Events: Youth Talent Night (November 1), Blenders presents Sweet Alibi and JadeaKelly (November 8).  Open Stage returns on Thursday, November 9, hosted by Dave Cyca. The Cypress Hills Would Never Be the Same (November 14-18), Blenders presents William Prince with Justin Lacroix (November 22), Corks and Canvas (November 24). For more information on Lyric events, visit our Facebook page or lyrictheatre.ca.
(Joey Donnelly is a journalist, folklorist and Lyric board member).

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