The oldest theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, the Lyric Theatre opened in 1888. Located near Piccadilly Circus underground station, the beautiful Renaissance design of this theatre was conceived by C.J. Phipps. This Grade II listed theatre is owned – and run – by Nimax Theatres.
Originally built as a venue for operetta, the theatre opened with a transfer of the comic opera, Dorothy. After hosting several comic operas, from 1916-1930 the venue presented operas and plays. In 1933, the theatre was refurbished and reopened with a production of George S Kaufman’s Royal Family, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and directed by Noël Coward.
Prince Littler took over ownership of the theatre in 1943 and presented a season of comedies. Later years saw the theatre stage hit musicals such as Blood Brothers, Gigi and Cameron Mackintosh’s five-star production of Five Guys Named Moe, which ran for five years. In 2000, Really Useful Group took ownership of the venue, hosting several Bill Kenwright productions, until the theatre was purchased by Nimax in 2005.
The Lyric has presented a variety of entertainment over the years but is best known for hosting musicals and classic plays. With a Renaissance designed auditorium, the theatre has a capacity of 967 seats. Thriller Live has been playing at the theatre since 2009, closing in 2020. The theatre has also hosted limited performances of shows including Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, and children’s shows such as What The Ladybird Heard and The Gruffalo’s Child.