These Walls: Plaza Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Plaza District

Lyric Theater at the Plaza

Renovation of 1935 Plaza Movie Theatre into a live performance venue for Lyric Theatre.

Lyric Theatre is a professional summer stock company founded in 1963 and the only professional musical theater in Oklahoma. For 39 years, Lyric has produced classic and contemporary musicals. There is seating for 278. Total area is 11,700 s. f.

The historic Plaza Theatre building had been renovated so many times since 1935 that there was no historic character remaining. Historic preservation was not an option.

We chose instead to acknowledge the “ghost” of the past. A neon outline “ghost” marquee was designed in the spirit of the original. Exposed brick walls acknowledge the building shell construction and make art of heater cavities and conduit locations once hidden behind long ago destroyed plaster. The original fireplace in the lobby is now a surprise in the men’s room. A new wood lath ceiling adds to the raw character of the entry lobby. An original terrazzo ramp remains and connects outside with inside at the entry.

The concept of “pools” of light creates a fitting theatrical entry experience. The concession counter is a suspended “frame” and accommodates roll around refreshment containers. The theatre outer-lobby is designed to have changing light color that corresponds with the current performance. Plasma screens provide changing donor recognition. The outer-lobby is punctuated by 8’ tall changing LED lighted letters.

Toilets remain raw with exposed brick and structure and use colored light to continue the theatrical qualities. The theatre space maintains the original bow-string trusses with the addition of lighting balcony, catwalks and a tension wire grid above the stage. Exposed brick defines the original building shell. 6’ diameter spiral stairs connect the catwalks to the theatre level and two connect to the small basement dressing room where boilers once were.

Two discoveries were made in the basement. One is that a newspaper dated June 1935 remains exposed in one of the beams. Secondly, a construction worker painted the date 6-5-35 on the concrete wall reminding us of his presence and pride in his contribution.