A popular theater company has taken its final bow in Irving.
Lyric Stage made its home at the Irving Arts Center since its first production in 1993 and has brought some of Broadway’s most famous and beloved shows to the city. But now, after 24 years, Lyric Stage is leaving Irving and has found a new home at the historic Majestic Theater in downtown Dallas.
Along with the new venue comes a new producer. Shane Peterman will become Lyric Stage’s producer at the start of their 25th season. He has been the associate producer for Lyric Stage for the past three years and worked with the company as an actor since 1997.
Peterman explained that the reason for the company leaving Irving is two-fold. First, staying would have a negative impact on their bottom line.
“It was a business decision first and foremost,” Peterman said. “A combination of factors affected our bottom line moving forward as a theater company. The money issue was, unfortunately, even with an arts 501c (3) organization, you have to pay attention to your bottom line.”
Secondly, the company felt they were not getting the recognition and support from the city they felt they deserved.
“We felt like we were not being viewed as a nationally recognized theater company with the city and, therefore, not receiving the benefits of having that recognition and doing the work that we were doing,” Peterman said. “I’m not suggesting the Irving Arts Center hasn’t been a wonderful home for the last 24 years. It’s really just about a fresh take on the art that we produce.”
Peterman had several discussions with the Irving Arts Center and its executive director Todd Hawkins leading up to the decision to move. During those discussions, Peterman shared with Hawkins the difficulties he faced in securing city support.
“When I approached Todd Hawkins, I was telling him about my vision and what I wanted to do and letting him know that the grant process and the different hoops that you have to jump through are not hoops that other theater companies around the country, including Watertower Theater, have to jump through in order to have city backing,” Peterman said.
“Watertower Theater gets over $450,000 a year from the city of Addison. We were not getting near even half of that. We were lucky to get maybe a third of that through the grant process, and it was a tedious process. I would never suggest or discount how much that money has helped us. But what was a concern for me was that [money] was simply not enough backing from the city to subsidize our increased costs all across the board and for us to just continue to do what it is we do.”
Peterman, along with the company’s founder Steven Jones, then began looking for a new place for Lyric Stage to call home. After much searching, they settled on the Majestic Theater.
“I began to look last year at different theaters and different options,” Peterman said. “[Steven Jones] and I decided that the Majestic would be a great home for the kind of shows we produce. It’s an old, historic, beautiful theater that was built in the 1920s. There were twelve theaters built around the turn of the century, and it’s the only one that’s still standing. Anyone who has grown up or knows anything about Dallas knows the Majestic.”
Although Peterman is excited about the move to the Majestic, he still has some regrets about leaving Irving.
“Have we been supported by the city the way that other theater companies around the country have been supported?” Peterman asked. “Probably not. That was a huge factor for us, and it was an unfortunate one, but that’s OK. Nothing lasts forever, and we are just grateful for the great 24 years, and we’re excited for the future.”
Irving Arts Center Executive Director Todd Hawkins released the following statement about the departure of Lyric Stage.
“Irving Arts Center has enjoyed working with Lyric Stage from its very inception. The relationship dates back to 1993, when Lyric Stage became one of the arts center’s resident organizations. Like all of our resident organizations, Lyric is an independent 501c (3) governed by a board of directors. While it is not our preference, the Irving Arts Center board and staff respect the decision made by Lyric’s board of directors. We wish them great success as they pursue their future plans.”
Pure Country will be Lyric Stage’s final show at the Irving Arts Center and will run from June 9 – 18. Tickets for the show can be purchased through Lyric Stage or through the Irving Arts Center. Lyric Stage will then kick off its 25th season on Sept. 29 with Dallas Divas at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Their first performance at the Majestic Theater will be Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame in mid-November.