Lyric Theatre

1029 Central Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Lyric Theatre

The Nobles of the Ararat Temple opened a 3,000 seat auditorium on December 18, 1926.

During World War II, the building was owned by the American Red Cross. The center was stripped of seats and the building used as a blood collection center for the war effort. After World War II, the theatre was used for legitimate shows and was renamed Playhouse. and then later the Victoria Theatre.

In 1959, the Durwood Theatre organization(AMC) reopened it as the 700 seat Capri Theatre, with the movie “South Pacific” in Todd-AO. In 1964, the screen was slashed during corporate-union turmoil;Durwood used non-union projectionists and fired striking stagehands.

The Capri Theatre was large, elegant and showy. The accoustics were perfect and the sightlines great. Arched doors lead into the small but impressive lobby. Above the doors is a colonnade of fluted Corinthian columns and windows. Inside, the decor was a combination of conservative burgundy and cream shades.

The Capri Theatre remained a mainstay in Kansas City movie theatres until 1972. Then, opera and symphony displaced movies, and the theatre was renamed the Lyric Theatre. Opera and symphony moved to the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts when it was completed in 2011, and in 2014 the Lyric Theatre is unused. In July 2018 it was announced the building will be converted into a YMCA.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

cerjda01 on July 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm

OK roadshow runs in KC. I know I went to all of them just about. Still have a buncha programs from them someplace. Capri – Cleopatra / Fall of the Roman Empire / Doctor Zhivago / My Fair Lady / Circus World / Paint Your Wagon / Camelot / The Shoes of the Fisherman Midland – Sound of Music / The Bible / Doctor Doolittle / Man of LaMancha / Hawaii Empirt – Patton / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang / Far from the Madding Crowd / Ice Station Zebra / Grand Prix / How the West was Won / Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World Glenwood – Sound of Music (subrun-roadshow)/ Is Paris Burning / Oliver! / Star! / Song of Norway / Hello Dolly West Side Story did play the Plaza – unusual booking and Lawrence of Arabia played at a theatre called the Saxon according to the KC Star (even tho is was on strike at the time of the run) and Yeah! I’m old but I know my movies and my theatres in KC.

jimseabough on October 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

To answer rivoli157 I am pretty sure STAR! played at the Glenwood in Overland Pk, Ks… Is Paris Burning? was the first roadshow to play the Glenwood. Hello, Dolly! Oliver! and the 70MM Gone With the Wind played the Glenwood. As for the Saxon Theatre, that was actually the Midland when it went thru a brief name change in the 60’s.

jimseabough on October 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Sorry! Just read cerjda01 who got it right and was here first…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm

The NRHP nomination form for the Eleventh Street Historic District, which includes the Lyric Theatre, says that the Ararat Shrine Temple was designed by the Kansas City architectural firm of Owen, Sayler, & Payson. William Sayler had joined the firm in 1925. Prevously, Albert S. Owen and Charles H. Payson had been partnered with Robin B. Carswell, and in 1923 the firm of Owen, Payson, & Carswell had designed another Masonic building which would become a theater and be listed on the NRHP: the Temple Theatre at Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Infanma on July 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Saw many roadshows there as a kid. I specifically remember Paint Your Wagon. Great place. The last time I was in there was for a jazz concert in the 1970s

Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher on August 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Is there any updates for the Lyric Theater – it would be perfect for UMKC and there is plenty of space to expand. It would be sad to loose another historic downtown Kansas City Theater.

spectrum on January 1, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Looks like the building is closed since the Opera company moved to the Kauffmann in 2011. Their website does not indicate if they still own the building or what its current status is.

midtown_kc on January 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I believe UMKC is building a new building for the Conservatory of Music and Dance close to the Kauffman Center. The Lyric Theatre was purchased by DST Systems, Inc.

aeast on July 13, 2016 at 10:43 pm

The 1959 “Ben-Hur” ran a solid year at the Capri. Other runs: “Porgy and Bess” and the Glenn Ford “Cimarron.”

midtown_kc on July 24, 2018 at 5:57 pm

This building will be revamped into a YMCA. Very sad.

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