Lyric Theatre

213 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 51 - 75 of 102 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 21, 2007 at 6:21 pm

I recall hearing about that incident back when it was news. I remember finding it very ironic and quite disturbing. It had always been my experience at the Lyric and other Duece grinders during the ‘80’s, that audience participation was an anticipated part of the entire “entertainment package.” By April of '88, I was already growing impatient with the change in programming on 42nd Street (many of the theaters were trying to book more mainstream product for the top of the bill) and was disconcerted by the unpleasant odors that had started to overwhelm some of the old grind houses. This story was just another – and perhaps final – reason why I stopped turning to Times Square for my cinematic adventures.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 21, 2007 at 6:02 am

The following was reported in The New York Times on April 10th, 1988:
www.i8.photobucket.com/albums/a18/Warrengwhiz/lyric88.jpg

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 31, 2007 at 1:46 am

New Lyric trivia.

The film on the TAXI DRIVER marquee scene, SOMETIMES SWEET SUSAN, featured future Hollwood mainstream producer, Craig Baumgarten, so it was most probably an industry inside joke.

On April 28, 1966 a manager at the Lyric was stabbed to death in an apparent robbery attempt according to the NYT. The week before, the Bryant had been robbed at gunpoint.

I just added a third Lyric Theatre on 23rd Street which may correspond to photo posted by Lost Memory on May 3(??)

billmetz
billmetz on March 3, 2007 at 9:04 am

only for the summer of `1945 then i had to go back to highj school BKLYN TECH

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on February 28, 2007 at 6:30 am

How long did you work there, metz?

billmetz
billmetz on February 28, 2007 at 5:20 am

i worked as an usher at the lyric 1945 20 bucks for 6 days work …i saw king kong and gunga din there about 50 times and still remember the dialogue…..as an usher i could go into any theatre on the block in my cheesy “uniform” at that time i think wm. brandt owned all the theatres…victory, lyric, times square, apollo,,selwyn, harris , liberty, empire and anco only the new amsterdam was the exception i remeber GRANTS across 42 stret where you could get good coffee to go and hot dogs sewrved at street level counter ……………memories

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on January 3, 2007 at 1:06 pm

On May 4, 2006, Lost Memory had asked, hopefully in jest, “Was there ever an El train on Third Ave?” LOL! That was the infamous 3rd Ave. El, which ran the length of Manhattan from South Ferry to the Bronx, ceased operations in the city on May 12, 1955 and was razed soon afterward.

Today I purchased a 2007 calendar, “Old New York,” published by the City Museum of NY. One of the highlights was Berenice Abbott’s classic shot of the Lyric Theatre, c. 1936. Check it out.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 18, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Oh wait, the Hilton never showed movies so there is no Hilton page… Duh!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 18, 2006 at 5:59 pm

I suppose this belongs more on the Hilton Theater page than here, but I grabbed these two shots of the former Lyric facade the other night while seeing a show next door at the New Victory with the kids:

The Grinch
Grinch times two

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on August 2, 2006 at 8:54 am

Funny stuff, Ed.

Can’t imagine any entertainer, or ANYBODY for that matter, who would want to be vulnerable on a stage – on The Deuce – when 100 flying discs have just been distributed.

Great ad. jerry

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on August 2, 2006 at 8:39 am

Smokey at the Lyric in 1978:

NY Daily News 1/25/78

As usual with the 42nd Street grinds, the Lyric isn’t listed at the bottom of the ad (only the National Theater around the corner on B'way is listed for Manhattan), but it was on this theater’s historic stage that Smokey Robinson made two live appearances to support this blaxploitation epic for which he wrote the musical score. I don’t imagine he sang at all at either appearance – just a few appreciative words and a wave to the crowd, I suspect.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2006 at 10:50 am

I took a series of photos of the vacant Duece grind houses in 1993 and recently scanned them to my photobucket account. Here is a shot of the Lyric and neighboring Victory, stripped of their billboard signage and their marquees displaying some sort of public poetry project:

1993 Lyric and Victory

Here’s a 2002 shot I took of the restored Lyric facade used as the entrance to the big Ford Center for the Performing Arts complex:

2002 Ford Center restoration

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 4, 2006 at 4:58 am

Was there ever a bypass on 42nd street in the 19th century? There is something similar on 42nd street shown in the latest KING KONG movie. Could it be the old east-west cattle run was still around in the thirties?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 4, 2006 at 3:53 am

This view of the Lyric and another view probably taken at the same time can be seen at the Getty Images website. The other photo shows that the Lyric’s entrance was close to the corner of a street that intersected with the avenue with the elevated subway. Neither the 1936 nor 1937 volumes of the FDYB list a Lyric in Manhattan other than the Lyric on West 42nd Street.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 4, 2006 at 3:22 am

The Lyric at 100 Third Avenue (listed here as the Bijou) is in a four story building; this looks a lot shorter.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 4, 2006 at 3:15 am

This may be the Lyric on Third Avenue after it was “modernized.” That theatre is probably listed here, but I can’t recall under which of its several names.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 3, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Looks like an elevated train column in front of the theater, so that means it’s not on 42nd Street.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 21, 2005 at 6:08 am

Came across a pair of old Playbills from Broadway shows I had seen when I was a teenager (one from November of 1978, the other from May of ‘81). Interesting article in the '78 Playbill about the theatrical community’s efforts to work with the Mayor (Koch during his first administration at the time) to clean up the Times Square area. There’s mention of the League of New York Theaters and Producers working with the “Mayor’s Midtown Action Office and Midtown Enforcement Project” to permanently close area peep shows, massage parlors and “other sex-related businesses.” Sound familiar? Perhaps the Giuliani’s administration circa 1994?

It’s funny how the article takes a sunny outlook on the situation, referring to a time “a few years back” when “the Times Square area was in many people’s minds a composit of Dante’s Ninth Circle and the outer space, spaced-out bar in ‘Star Wars.’ The Great White Way was splattered with sleaze. Actresses and actors went on talk shows and made jokes about muggers.” Meanwhile, any true clean-up of the area was more than a decade in the future and at the cost of some of our greatest cinematic and theatrical palaces (not to mention any trace of Times Square’s once-unique character and atmosphere).

The article also mentions a “recent announcement” by the Brandt Organization to restore the Lyric and the Apollo on 42nd Street to legitimate theaters. I don’t think anything ever came of that plan for the Lyric, but I do know that attempts were made to use the Apollo as a legitimate stage in the early ‘80’s. In fact, the '81 Playbill I found lists Richard Thomas appearing at the Apollo in “Fifth of July” under the “How many of these shows have you seen?” section in the back of the magazine. In any event, the plans did come to fruition eventually, albeit with the destruction of the orignal Lyric and Apollo interiors and the creation of the new Ford Center for the Performing Arts (now Hilton Theater) which, as described in comments above, incorporates architectural elements from both old houses into its design.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 21, 2005 at 5:11 am

Thanks Mikeoaklandpark, I was a bit off on that location, eh? I seem to recall it ran exlusively at the renamed “Penthouse” Theater for much of 1980. I can’t remember exactly when it played the Lyric, but it must have been sometime before the film was edited down for an “R” rating and re-released fairly wide the following year. I remember going back and seeing the shorter version at the Sunrise Cinemas multiplex in Valley Stream. The film was a botch job in both versions, thanks mostly to the incompetent and incoherent editing job performed by the Penthouse publisher Guccione, who assumed control of the project and locked-out the nominal director, Tinto Brass (himself an Italian soft-porn maestro), from the completion of the project.

A lot of the notorious history behind this film (which was filmed in 1976 but not completed and released until 1979) is outlined on the movie’s imdb trivia page. There are some fine performances and evocative atmospherics, but its such a jumbled mess that it makes for a very frustrating cinematic experience. I would love to see a true “Director’s Version” with all the footage shot by Brass arranged in the precise order he intended just to see if any of the film’s glimpses of worthiness might have panned out. But that would mean Guccione and his enormous ego stepping out of the way and relinquishing control of his $17.5 million dollar epic.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on December 20, 2005 at 7:47 am

EdSolero
It was the Trans Lux East on 3rd Ave Between 57 & 58. Guccione leased it for 1 year and renamed it The Penthouse. After the year Crown took over the theater remdeled it and reopened it as the Crown Gotham.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 20, 2005 at 7:12 am

Going back to some of the “Taxi Driver” inspired debate above as to whether the old Lyric ever showed porn… I think saps is right that the theater was never one of the Duece’s full-time porno houses (like the Rialto 1 and 2, Victory and Harem were). I think Scorcese liked the theater’s outdoor vestibule area as a shooting location and had the marquee especially made up for the shoot. The Harem entrance looked like a storefront, the Rialto entrances were very small and, like the Victory’s, were flush up against the facade. My guess is the Lyric vestibule offered the right look and spaciousness that Scorcese wanted and so he took some liberties. I wonder if that is the Lyric’s interior that was used for the shots of DeNiro and Sheppard watching the movie inside the theater.

Getting back to porn… if memory serves, the Lyric did play the un-edited version of Bob Guccione’s “Caligula” very shortly after its run at the east side theater Guccione had four-walled and renamed after his Penthouse magazine. I remember my friends and I standing under the marquee and then sheepishly moseying over to the display cases in the vestibule to look over the publicity stills and cards for the movie before working up the courage finally to go in and check the film out. It was our first porn experience and I might add that several sequences were extremely difficult for us to sit through!

Speaking of “Caligula”… does anyone remember the theater that Guccione commandeered to exhibit this porn-epic? I believe it was a former Trans-Lux theater on 1st or 2nd Ave in the 30’s or 40’s? My memory is failing on that point. I tried searching under “Penthouse” here, but I guess no one has thought to add that as an AKA to whatever theater it might be.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 20, 2005 at 6:55 am

I think that the checkerboard motif was installed for Minsky’s Burlesque. The white squares were filled with faces of showgirls or surrounded windows that were already in the facade. See photo on page 50 of the original edition of Nicholas Van Hoogstraten’s “Lost Broadway Theatres.”

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 20, 2005 at 6:26 am

Take note of the checkerboard motif on the neighboring Victory Theater (which featured Burlesque and was called the Republic Theater at the time of this photo, I believe) to the right of the Lyric. I know that theater has its own page, but does anyone know when that design element was incorporated into the facade? Was it concurrent with the demolition of the exterior staircase that would later be re-created for the opening of the renovated New Victory Theater in 1995?