Life as we know it has changed over the last month. Students working from home, curbside restaurant service and temporary business closures are just a few things forced by COVID-19.
Entertainment has also felt the long-reaching arms of the coronavirus, including the Lyric Theatre, which has become one of the most popular venues in the area. Managing director Eric Evans said the Lyric has been “keeping a low profile” through this period. “What and how we do what we do involves people mixing with each other on and off the stage as well as patrons that come to see the shows.”
Evans has been using social media to keep the Lyric family connected. “On our ‘players’ or ‘actors’ (Facebook) page, we have been looking and talking through various pictures from our history over the past 16 years. This has been enjoyable and the responses from various players have been enjoyable and encouraging to read. For the most part, those involved with the Lyric understand and support why we are closed.”
Evans said some of the feedback received has been about finances. “Many are concerned about how we are doing financially and how we will come out of the other side of this pandemic moment. I have that same concern.”
With many activities being planned in advance, needed adjustments have been made to the Lyric production calendar. “Rumors” has been canceled and is being replaced by “Get Smart.” Evans said “Get Smart” was originally scheduled to go up the last two weeks of April. “It had already been cast and the set was under construction when the shutdown occurred. Fortunately, 90% of the cast along with director Larry Mathis were able to commit to a fall production of the show. They were wonderful in their response.”
Plans are to move forward with activities scheduled for summer, Evans explained. “This is very tentative and we are waiting on social distancing guidance from state and city officials. It takes a great deal of preparation and coordination to get a show to the stage. We work with more than 200 volunteer actors and workers through the year and spend about 60 days in preparation prior to a show hitting the stage. If we can’t get together 60 days prior to a show, we have a significant problem.” Evans said they hope to know something at the beginning of May so they may keep communicating on this particular issue.
Doors to the theatre complex have been closed during this time. “We have utilized this downtime to do some extra-deep cleaning of the facilities as well as organizing and catching up with sorting, storage, filing - working to solidify some areas of support,” Evans said. Not knowing when the theatre will be able to reopen has been a distinct challenge in communicating. “We want to be very responsible, and this can be a challenge at times,” Evans said. Referring to it as a “teaser,” Evans said they are now working on a streaming opportunity. “Maybe more about this will come out in the next week or so.”
Devoting endless hours to the Lyric, Evans said this break has been a focus on health. “I've wanted to do my part in staying healthy, helping my family stay healthy and being a good example of social distancing.”
Evans said that during a busy period, he made a statement he wishes could be retracted. “I will say that about 90 days ago when I was in one of the busiest periods of the year for me and the theatre, I said, ‘It would be nice to have a two-week snow day.’ You know, that period that rarely happens in Brownwood but when it does, everything and everyone takes a breath for a day and gets a needed downtime. I for sure will re-think such a statement for the future.”
Once the doors reopen, Evans anticipates everyone will be excited about safely interacting and enjoying one another’s company. “The Lyric has been warmly received by our community and I believe that people will work to help support and continue the thriving art world we have here in central Texas.”
A quote from Bettie Girling, an early donor to the theatre was offered. “The arts can help a community thrive and make positive impacts into all our lives that are positive and loving."
Evans agrees with Girling’s words. “I believe in our short history, the Lyric has shown this statement to be true and I'm excited in continuing to see the Lyric help to be a driving force behind the success of our community.”
To keep up with the happenings at the Lyric, visit brownwoodlyrictheatre.com.