The Lyric Stage was founded in 1974 by Ron Ritchell and Polly Hogan, and performed at the Community Church in Copley Square. In 1976 the Lyric relocated to Charles Street on Beacon Hill. There until 1991, the Lyric saw continued audience growth, especially in subscription growth.
Over the years the Lyric received numerous awards: twice from the Association of Performing Arts for excellence, numerous Best of Boston awards by the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Where Magazine, and other print electronic media. Many Lyric actors and actresses were singled out for awards. In 1986, the Lyric was the only American theatre company invited to bring its acclaimed production of And A Nightinggale Sang to the World Theatre Festival in Baltimore, MD.
The Lyric Stage founded by Ron Ritchell (pictured) and Polly Hogan.
The fledgling theater company moves to a performance space above the hardware store at 54 Charles Street, producing The Importance of Being Earnest.
Ron and Polly were among the founding members of the Boston Resident Theatre Alliance which later expanded into New England Area Theatres -NEAT. NEAT members worked to develop a rule book specific to the needs of its members. Polly was the chief negotiator for NEAT in discissions with Actors Equity and the NEAT agreement became only one of four such agreements in the country. To this day the Lyric still operates under the NEAT agreement as do other resident professional theatres in New England.
Ron was a cofounder of Arts Boston and served as its treasurer for several years. Ron and Polly also co-founded the Theatre Benevolent Fund that provides financial aid to local artists who have medial and personal crises and need assistance. In 1998 after 156 productions, 47 premieres, 16 of which were world premieres, Ron and Polly retired. Never having had a deficit in its 24 years the Lyric was debt-free for Spiro, who became the new Artistic Director for the 1998 season.
A jewel among theatres
In 1991, the Lyric opened its current home called “A jewel among theatres” by the Boston Globe. Ron and Polly received a special Elliot Norton Award for building the first new theatre in Boston in many years. Mayor Flynn declared Lyric Stage Week at its November opening. Two years later the final Capital Campaign expenses were paid off making the Lyric debt-free.
While continuing its seven-play seasons and increasing audiences and subscribers, the Lyric provided a home to Teen Neighborhood Theatre. TNT was comprised of youngsters from minority neighborhoods who performed at the Lyric and at schools throughout Boston. TNT was in residence at the Lyric for seven years.
After a comprehensive search of the unused spaces in the city of Boston, the Lyric Stage agrees to renovate a former auditorium in the YWCA building in Back Bay.
Renovation of the former YWCA auditorium is complete and the first production in our new home, Red Hot & Cole, is staged.
The Lyric Stage wins its first Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Designer for the production of Whoop-de-Doo!
Spiro Veloudos is named Producing Artistic Director
Spiro Veloudos retires after 21 years as Producing Artistic Director. Courtney O’Connor is named the third Artistic Director of the Lyric Stage Company of Boston and Matt Chapuran continues on as Executive Director, a position he attained in August, 2019.
2020: The Third Generation of Leadership
Matt Chapuran and Courtney O’Connor both came of age in the Boston theatre community at the same time as the Lyric Stage and they have a rich history with the company. In the 1990s, Matt performed at the Lyric Stage as part of the US Improv Theatre League, and he was an intern for Lyric Stage’s Teen Neighborhood Theatre during the tenure of Ron Ritchell and Polly Hogan. Courtney was given some of her first directorial opportunities by Spiro Veloudos, including acting as Associate Director on the award-winning production of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts 1&2, and directing numerous productions herself including the recent The Cake.