Christmas time at the Lyric Theatre has become special for our community.
The tradition started five years ago this week, on December 11, 2014. That was when the Lyric’s “grand re-opening” celebration began with a two-weekend run of the musical “Anything Goes.”
It was also when I made my grand re-debut on the theatrical stage, playing a reporter who managed to remember his 13 scripted lines. I think it’s called “typecasting.” And I say “re-debut,” because I had a similarly brief appearance in a high school drama. That’s another story for another day.
The Lyric reopened during the centennial of the year the theater started operations in downtown Brownwood. Yes, the building has been a fixture here since 1914, although it was either vacant or used as a fine clothing store for several decades. But with the support of many people beginning around the turn of the 21st century, its restoration was completed. Since then, the Lyric has hosted multiple performances.
Today, all that’s history. This is about what’s happening right now. And what’s happening right now at the Lyric is another throwback into the past, a re-creation of a radio play as audiences would have witnessed in the middle of the 20th century.
This year, the radio play based on the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is again making the Christmas season special, and the show is in the middle of its two-weekend run. Performances will begin at 2:30 p.m. today and Sunday, and at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday. After watching the show last week, I can say with confidence that your Christmas observance will not be complete without seeing it.
While you’re there, you might consider securing your 2020 season ticket package by becoming a patron. A number of great shows are in store for next year.
Such ongoing support is needed not only from those who buy tickets to the performances, but also from sponsors and patrons if these shows are to continue to be offered to the community. If the Lyric depended on the revenue from ticket sales alone to cover the costs of running the theater, it would soon have to close its doors. Fortunately, many in our area appreciate the value of having the Lyric Theatre as an anchor to downtown Brownwood, and appreciate the importance of the arts to the region.
Vibrant central business districts need destinations like the Lyric to bring people to shop with its merchants, patronize the professional offices, and enjoy unique dining and hospitality opportunities. When your city’s downtown becomes a destination, every one of those groups will benefit.
What’s more, the Lyric attracts visitors from other parts of the state to Brownwood, and that’s an additional layer of economic benefit.
It would be a rare individual who does not know the plot of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The movie wasn’t a resounding box office hit when it was released shortly after World War II, but industry critics recognized the production with several nominations for awards. Over the decades, this Frank Capra film has become a staple for the Christmas season — the defining Christmas movie for its generation.
The moral of the story is, no one can appreciate how different things would be if we weren’t a part of our community. Perhaps we know what we mean to our immediate families, but what about the city where we live, and the state, the nation, and the world? That significance should not be minimized.
The Christmas season is an ideal time to grasp the message of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It rings more clearly when told in a fresh format on the Lyric stage. We can contemplate what we mean to others in this community, and what others mean to us. Our area of Central Texas is indeed an exceptional place to live and to establish a wonderful life of our own.
Everyone plays an important part on the stage of real-life, and as they say in theater, “There are no small parts.”
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.