Lyric in fundraising mode after revenue losses to coronavirus

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood Bulletin

The showing of the Lyric Theatre’s virtual production of “Augustus Does His Bit” is nearly over.

But at the Lyric, the show must go on — literally.

With summertime productions strangled by the coronavirus, the Lyric is planning a live production in early October . The production will be a musical review called “The Show Must Go On.” The show will serve as a fundraiser and will consist of a compilation of pieces from Lyric musicals going back to 2004.

Performers returning to reprise pieces from musicals include Arielle Sword (“Cinderella”), Greg and Celeste Church (“Annie Get Your Gun”), Paul Dunn (“My Fair Lady”), Brooklyn Britton (“Annie”) and Deanna Erxleben (“Annie”).

“The Show Must Go On” will be more than entertainment to delight audiences.

It is also serving as a fundraiser to replenish some of the funds — about $75,000, or about 45 percent of the Lyric’s annual budget — that were lost to the coronavirus-forced summer cancellations.

The Lyric’s goal is to raise $15,000 through “The Show Must Go On,” Lyric managing director Eric Evans said.

The Lyric is asking 150 patrons to consider giving $100 each in exchange for a T-shirt and ticket to the show.

“We’re going to be in a position where we can’t do things next year if we don’t get some funds,” Evans said. “This will help us get to the end of the year and then get started for 2021.”

The last live show at the Lyric was the play “Nunsense” in March.

Four summer productions had been planned: “Grease,” “Mama Mia,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Jungle Book.”

“At first we thought we might be able to do the summer programs,” Evans said. “Open Texas guidelines didn’t allow that to happen.”

The Lyric had hoped to put on “The Show Must Go On” in early August. “Then that wasn’t a viable option, so we’ve rescheduled that for the first part of October,” Evans said.

For August, the Lyric put on the virtual online production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Augustus Does His Bit” in partnership with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.

The play is “a true-to-life farce (1916) comedy one-act play about a dim-witted aristocrat who is outwitted by a female spy during World War I,” the Lyric’s website states.

This show is presented by the Lyric “virtually” via our website and private YouTube channel.

The show was videoed at the Lyric in May by Blue Bear Media Dallas, which is owned by Evans’ son, Dexter. Additional shots were done later.

The 40-minute show premiered on the Lyric’s YouTube channel and ends Monday, Aug. 31.

Patrons who buy a ticket for $10 receive a code via email that allows the patron to go on the Lyric’s website and watch it through the YouTube channel.

Performers include Matthew McNiece, who plays Augustus, and Cassia Rose, who plays the vixen spy.

“ Augustus is a basically … in the play they called him a moron,” Evans said. “He’s a moron and he’s an officer in the British Army. He’s trying to make decisions and a female spy vixen comes in and tries to convince him of something. It’s a very British humorous type of show.”

While the Lyric intends to put on “The Show Must Go On” for live audiences, it presents some challenges due to COVID protocols, which the Lyric is following, Evans said.

The Lyric is also planning to put on “Get Smart” in November. That sow was postponed from earlier this year due to the coronavirus.

In December, the Lyric is tentatively planning “A Christmas Story.”