The Lyric Theatre on College Avenue has been in the storytelling business for more than a hundred years, and in that time has also left its mark in its audiences’ own stories.
Those marks have only existed as memories in the mind of the Lyric’s guests and volunteers, until now.
The Lyric’s Council Board of Directors is capturing the history of the theatre through a memory book, which will portray the stories of people who have cherished memories in the historic Blacksburg location.
“Well, the idea first got started five years ago, and it wasn’t really our idea,” said Susan Mattingly, the executive director of the Lyric Theatre.
At the time, a writer’s group called New River Writer’s Workshop was planning to create a memory book for the Lyric. Later, this effort was reduced to just an idea when the Lyric lost the help of the writing group.
Mattingly however, said the theatre’s committee members were still inspired by the idea that they had a special story to tell, and they wanted to share it.
Every member of the memory book committee can recount at least one story of the Lyric Theatre’s history. In the past 40 years alone, the theatre has played various roles from hosting biology classes, marriages and even political candidates.
The Lyric has also, of course, staged live performances and screened countless movie showings. It is the only movie theatre in town that has remained standing since opening.
Linda Plaut, the secretary of the Lyric Council Board of Directors, said the Lyric has thrived because it does what many multiplex theaters do not: serves as a place for the community to gather.
Rather than housing multiple theaters and audiences for each showing, the Lyric’s patrons enjoy a film as one group. Special events targeted for students and community members have also made the Lyric a local attraction.
Lindsay West, former chair of the Lyric’s board of directors, said the Lyric’s attraction is ageless.
“[The memory book project] reminds me of what a strong impression the Lyric has made on people while they lived here or lived as students here,” West said. “It reminds me of what a fixture of the community the theatre has always been and continues to be.”
Plaut refers to West as the history of the Lyric herself.