(NECN: Jack Thurston, Williston, Vt.) - Vermont's popular Lyric Theatre Company, headquartered in Chittenden County, is celebrating its fortieth year with performances of the epic musical "Les Miserables." The performances run April 4-13 at the Flynn Main Stage at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts in downtown Burlington, Vt.
To mark the milestone anniversary, the organization is in the middle of a capital campaign. Lyric is asking donors for a $1.4-million birthday gift to purchase and renovate a new, single space to do all it needs to get ready for its shows. Currently, the group works out of rented space in Williston, but also uses different borrowed or rented spaces for auditions, rehearsals, prop, costume and set construction, and in the case of "Les Mis," training on 1800s-style firearms.
"All of us who are doing this, are kind of hungry for it," said Kelly Kendall, the artistic director of Lyric's version of "Les Mis," describing the work going into the capital campaign.
Kendall told New England Cable News having all the troupe's energies under one roof will boost its education programs and enable more, smaller-scale performances. She said, before the extra attention "Les Mis" should bring the organization, that Lyric is more than halfway to its fundraising goal. "Having us all under one roof is just going to be sort of an exponential benefit for anyone who comes in contact with Lyric," Kendall added.
Lyric often refers to itself as one of the largest community theater organizations in the country, and boasts of its large number of volunteers. As many as 400 people work on a production, according to the non-profit. The group said in a brochure describing its capital campaign efforts that since its inception in 1974, with the production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," it has sold more than a half-million tickets to its more than 80 multi-performance productions.
Lyric's Broadway-style musicals are staged twice a year at the Flynn Center. The organization helped turn around the crumbling space four decades ago as a place to present that first musical. "I can't believe it's been 40 years. I'm not that old," chuckled founding member Donna Riera.
Riera said the close relationship with the Flynn, an Art Deco-style vaudeville and movie palace which has been painstakingly restored in recent years, has helped Lyric mount impressive presentations to audiences. "Some of the other community theaters around have very small houses," Riera observed. "We have 1,400 people in our house-- Plus!"
The cast and crew of "Les Mis" are busily rehearsing in advance of opening night April 4 to make sure their performances set the stage for the Lyric Theatre Company's next 40 years. For more information on the Lyric Theatre Company, visit this website: http://www.lyrictheatrevt.org/