The 106 year-old Caine Lyric Theatre, located in downtown Logan at 28 West Center, is one of the few downtown buildings restored to look like an authentic historical building.
The building was converted into a theater after a fire destroyed the Thatcher Opera House in 1912. By 1913, the Lyric theater was finished and being used for productions.
“The Thatcher’s had some touring companies scheduled to perform and needed a place,” said Richie Call, the co-artistic director of the Lyric Repertory Company. “The building was a Chinese restaurant, the home of the Herald (the local newspaper at the time), and even a bank before it was turned into a theater.”
He said it operated as a playhouse until after WWII, when it closed and fell into disrepair.
Call is an assistant professor in the BFA Acting Program at Utah State University and has a family connection with the theater.
He remembers hearing of his grandfather, Vosco Call, using the theater while going to college. The theater was empty and he got permission to use it.
“He showed movies and charged people 25 cents to get in,” Call said. “When he went to grad school, it fell empty again.
“There was a theater in Old Main and when they remodeled in the 1950’s, they filled in the classrooms and needed a place for a theater.”
By then, Vosco had just been hired to teach theater and had the task of finding a place to continue the university’s drama productions. The dean at the time was Twain Tippets. They talked to the Thatcher sisters, and they agreed to sell the theater to the university
In 1967, the university began to run the Lyric as a summer theater to bridge the gap between academic theater and professional theater, so students could prepare for life beyond college.
That same year, they got some money to help fund the company. They did two shows that year; then, in 1969, three shows. This year they are doing six shows and utilizing the downtown Lyric Theater, as well as two theaters on USU’s campus: the Morgan and Black Box theaters.
“When they started the Summer Citizens program, things started to pick up,” Call said. “Now they have thousands of summer citizens that bring in large audiences.”
They are starting to see an increase in young people coming to the theater.
“We have high schoolers, college kids and young marrieds starting to come to the theater,” he said. “It makes for a great summer program.”
The formula must be working. This is their 54th season of uninterrupted production, and it gets stronger every year.
In 2000, using old photographs, the university restored the building as close as they could to its original state. They later purchased the building next door and added restrooms and changing rooms. The family crests that line both sides of the stage are the Thatcher family’s.
The 378-seat theater is listed on the Utah State Historical Register and is the home to the Lyric Repertory Company and hosts USU Opera program performances.
There is a lot of ornate molding and carvings on the walls. The seats may have been recovered, but they look just like you would expect to have seen back in the day.
For an opportunity to get a glimpse of what a theater looked like in the early 1900’s, attend one of the productions at the Cain Lyric Theater this summer.