I’m always overwhelmed by the underdeveloped potential in Birmingham, and never more so than yesterday (7/1/2011) when Bob and I toured the Lyric Theater. As Glenny Brock, the Lyric’s strongest advocate, proclaimed, “With the Alabama Theater, The Lyric Theater (across the street), the McWane Science Center, The Pizitz Building, Carver Theater, (and other downtown landmarks) along with Mayor William Bell’s strong support, we already HAVE an entertainment district downtown.”
Certainly, we have the amazing historic structures, but Birmingham’s landmarks need financial support if they are to remain. Remember the fate of Birmingham’s Terminal Station….And since 2009, The Lyric’s been among buildings listed on Alabama Historical Commission’s “Places in Peril”.
To those who might claim that it would draw business away from the Alabama Theater (now booked 325 days a year), Glenny counters, “The Alabama Theater was built for ‘moving pictures’ with 2200 seats, and The Lyric Theater was built for live performances with 1200 seats and 12 dressing rooms. It’s much better suited for some of the small, live performances now booked for the Alabama. And Willie Nelson has been turned away twice because of scheduling difficulties. The theaters would actually complement each other and attract even more business.”
Glenny says that the original interior floor plan and finishes were almost identical to the now vibrant and completely restored Wells Theater in Norfolk, VA. It’s comparable to some of the best theater venues that New York has to offer. We can have that right here in Birmingham! Years before Cecil Whitmire died, he asked Bob to render in watercolor what the Lyric could look like to solicit support (while insisting upon blue seating when the original seating was red!) Here’s the watercolor below. And Glenny has picked up the legacy left by Cecil Whitmire to solicit support for the Lyric with passion and commitment. But even the strongest advocates need the help and enthusiasm of others. Glenny says that at one point in his life, even Cecil was frustrated and tired and ready to quit trying. The Lyric and Glenny need our help. If you have a group of fans, contact the Lyric for a tour. And then, please do what you can…