After years of disrepair, the Lyric Theater brings life to Blue Island’s entertainment district

Opera theater

BLUE ISLAND, Ill — Since the 1830s, the town of Blue Island has marched to the beat of its own drum. Just 16 miles from Chicago’s Loop, Blue Island is an enclave for the construction booms of the Calumet Sag Channel while becoming the “Brick Capitol of the World”.

There was a time when the Lyric Theater was the driving force behind Blue Island’s bustling entertainment hub. For decades, the 12,000 square foot theater has typically offered mainstream Hollywood films for families, creating lasting memories for moviegoers.

The Lyric opened in 1917 next to the Grand Opera House in the entertainment center of Blue Island. The first talking picture broadcast was “The Terror” on April 1, 1929. Then the tragedy remained.

A fire that broke out on February 14, 1960, during a matinee screening of the film “Cash McCall,” starring Hollywood icons James Garner and Natalie Wood, destroyed the theater. Fortunately, everyone was able to escape the fire unscathed.

1960 Lyric Theater fire damage assessment

For much of the 21st century, The Lyric lay dormant, unable to attract investment to once again become the vibrant centerpiece of Blue Island’s downtown business district. Thanks to the vision and commitment of two longtime Blue Island families, the Garettos and the Cantelos, the Lyric Theater is reborn and reinvented.

This story doesn’t start then, it has roots dating back to 1948 when a young girl named Janet Fisher, a Lyric ticket taker, met her future husband, Angelo Garetto, an aspiring musician who later started Pizza to beggars. The rest, as they say, is history.

“When my grandmother was 16 she worked at the Lyric Theater and back then the box office was in the middle of the street in a glass booth, everyone in town knew her,” Amanda Garetto-Melvin said. of Beggars Pizza Commissary. . “My grandfather came to a show one day, bought a ticket, had to find out who the girl was, finally figured out who she was, asked his parents for permission to go out with him (because he was a little older) and two years later he asked her to marry him.Our family history began here.

Almost every square inch of the theater has been renovated, providing a modern yet intimate experience for visitors of all ages. Guests will enjoy a new 29-foot-wide, 17-foot-tall screen, as well as a state-of-the-art audio and visual experience never before enjoyed in this space. Keeping that Blue Island charm, a concession stand will provide snacks and drinks, and for adults, a full bar. Of course, the pizza will be appropriately offered and proven by Beggars Pizza.

The Lyric in the early 1900s

Moviegoers have the choice of seating in luxurious booths or comfortable chairs and bar stools. There are also two private suites on the upper level for people who need space to accommodate large groups.

Part of the newly opened Lyric’s mission is to create space on Blue Island for the community. Later this year, the theater will also host touring local and national artists on its stage. From rock and punk rock to jazz and funk and more, the eclectic sounds are sure to breathe new meaning into its next chapter.

For movie times and Lyric history, click here.

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