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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

The Caine Lyric Theatre deserves name of 'crown jewel of Center Street'

By Brandon Monson

December 15, 2006 | Logan city boasts many historic buildings and sites along Main Street and Center Street, giving the city an old-time feel and small-town atmosphere. There are many historic gems for the tourist and the local alike, but among the finest buildings in Logan stands the Caine Lyric Theatre located at 28 W. Center Street.

"I love the Lyric Theatre. There is something special about it that makes you fell like when you walk through its doors you have gone back in time 50 years," Mandee Nilson, an art student, said.

Many residents of Cache Valley and university students have had opportunities to enter the theatre walls, but few know the unique history behind the landmark building.

Lyric G. W. Thatcher and his wife Mary Ann Young built the Victorian-style theatre almost a century ago in 1913. The Lyric Theatre was constructed to replace the Thatcher Opera House which caught fire burned down on the same day as the sinking of the Titanic.

The theatre's success, however, was short lived. After WWII, the theatre was run down and no longer used for opera and plays. It was used as a movie theatre from the late 1940s until 1961. At one point, during that time, the city even considered demolishing the theatre and putting a bowling alley in its place.

Utah State Theatre, The Lyric, was finally restored and reopened as part of the Utah State Theatre in the spring of 1961. Ten years later, the building was placed on the Utah State Register of Historic Sites.

Since the Lyric Theatre's first opening, its curtains have been raised for over 1200 performances, and it has shown over 150 different productions. The Lyric was recently expanded and restored again in 2000 where it took on the new name of the Caine Lyric Theatre. It has also been referred to as "The Crown Jewel of Center Street."

According the Theatre's Web site, "tens of thousands of area residents come to Lyric each year to enjoy a wide range of concerts and artistic performances in this intimate, whisper perfect acoustically superior venue."

Robbin Black, a Utah State University professor in the theatre department, said he thinks all truly great theatres should have a ghost.

"The Lyric theatre is a great theatre," he said. "And like all great theatres, it has to have ghost. Our ghost is partial to Shakespeare and his name is Everett."

Before his death, Everett was an actor in the Lyric Theatre years ago. Everett played the second gravedigger in the original production of Hamlet and was getting more laughs in the famous clown scene than the previous gravedigger, who reportedly became wildly jealous, because his was the larger part. It was later reported that Everett did not show for subsequent performances and the first gravedigger had a fresh, new skull for the grave scene. Everett's remains were later found in the theatre lying in a dirt floor hallway that lead to the theatres furnace and boiler room. Everett's ghost has never left the theatre, and there are many people who claim they have had encounter with him.

Actors who have worked in the Lyric Theatre claim the ghost has been heard laughing during rehearsals of Hamlet. Everett has been known to prowl the catwalks late at night, calling out to actors as they rehearse or to technicians as they hang lights. He is also fond of sitting in the house right loge seat. If you're quiet, his presence is made known by watching the house right rear chandelier. It sways continually reminding patrons he was wronged by a lousy actor and has one light bulb that is constantly out in memory of his death.

"The theatre technicians and professional electricians have attempted to fix the light but despite all their efforts the bulb has never turned on," Black said.

The Lyric Theatre complete with its ghost and Victorian style, jewel box proscenium seats 388 patrons and continues to be a much loved historic site by the students and residents of Cache valley.



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