Opening night of the popular musical “Oklahoma!” by the Lyric Performing Arts Company brings area residents an opportunity to enjoy anew the Rogers and Hammerstein musical that has stood the test of time. The musical score includes tunes like “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” that are part of the fabric of America. Even the character’s names in the show — Will Parker, Ado Annie and others — are recognized by most.

It’s a musical that those who have enjoyed before will want to see again, and one for those who have never done so, must see.

But the Lyric’s performance is also a reminder that these annual summer shows are being staged in the production company’s temporary home, the Howard Payne University Theatre. Efforts to restore the Lyric Theatre downtown are continuing, and the community’s support of that effort will allow the completion of this important project.

If residents can do nothing else, they can buy a ticket to these shows. Each filled seat is a vote of support for what the Lyric board and its supporters are doing, and for the future of the performing arts in Brown County.

The Lyric, used for decades as a movie theater after its construction in the 1920s, was nevertheless designed as a performance space, and that fact is simplifying the restoration process. The effort is an integral part of the downtown Brownwood scene, which is already enjoying a wide array of quality retail stores, residential lofts, fine restaurants and professional offices.

Beginning next week, even as the performances of “Oklahoma!” continue, the Lyric’s children’s theater camp directed by Larry and Sue Wisdom will get under way. The two weeks of clinics will conclude with four performances of those students at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. June 15 and 16.

Then, on June 29 and 30, performances of a children’s show are scheduled. And yet another show is planned in July.

It’s a busy calendar for the Lyric, but it goes to support its mission of bringing cultural opportunities to the community, giving local talent a place to showcase their abilities and groom young people in the arts.

The Lyric, even with its permanent home still under reconstruction, has become an important part of the cultural scene locally. Completion of the restoration will be icing on the cake.

Brownwood Bulletin