Performers from the Lyric Music Theater Lyric Music Theater

SOUTH PORTLAND – Throughout its long history, the Lyric Music Theater has remained dedicated to fostering a strong partnership with the local community. Most recently they have partnered with the South Portland Library to participate in children’s events on Saturday mornings. “We did one in June related to our production of “Cinderella,” and just last weekend we did one with the talented kids and Maria from our upcoming production of the “Sound of Music,’” said Kate Whalen, marketing director for Lyric Music Theater.

Whalen said the events have been a huge hit for themselves and for the library. “So we plan to do an event in conjunction with each of our upcoming shows,” said Whalen. She said The “Sound of Music” has two casts of talented kids who will alternate performances.

The theater also offers summer programs. During this past summer, the theater presented the “Lion King Experience Junior.” The next mainstage show coming up after the “Sound of Music is A Christmas Story.” The theater hopes to cast 10-12 children, as well as adults’ auditions for “A Christmas Story.” Whalen said they have lots of families involved, from South Portland and up to an hour away. “We hear loads of positive feedback about our productions, as well as the overall experience of coming to see a show at Lyric. We have audience members who come back show after show,” Whalen said.

Lyric Music Theater was formed in 1952 in Portland by a group of performers. The goal of the group was to “foster interest in theater, particularly as applied to music and drama and to provide a medium for the expression of such interest,” said a statement on the website. Originally it was called the Portland Lyric Theater. The first production was “Kiss Me, Kate,” performed at Deering High School in 1953.

As the group grew, they realized they needed more space. They moved into a vacant movie theater on Stevens Avenue in Portland. In 1971 there was a fire and they had to move. Six years later they found their present home at 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland. The present building was built in 1903 and is a church renovated into the Cedric Thomas Playhouse, named for the man who first purchased the theater.

Lyric Music Theater offers an ASL-interpreted performance for each of its mainstage shows of the season. The theater also offers a pay-what-you-can, sensory-friendly performance each season. The sensory-friendly shows were inspired by the theater development fund’s Autism Initiative, which offers Broadway performances for family and friends with children or adults on the autism spectrum. It is also for people with sensory needs. They are one of the only theaters to offer sensory-friendly shows. The environmental conditions for the sensory-friendly shows are adjusted with soft lighting, and activity areas in the lobby for those who need to leave their seats for a break during the performance.

“I moved to Portland in early 2019 without knowing a soul,” Whalen said. “I did my first show with Lyric at the end of 2019 and immediately found my Portland theater family. It is a welcoming and inclusive theater space, which I felt from the moment I walked in the door. We have great support from the community, both to be involved in a show or to be in the audience. Our runs of “Curtains” and “Cinderella” last spring were both near sellouts and “The Sound of Music” is on track for the same.”

The theater is holding auditions for “A Christmas Story” from Sept. 24-26. They are looking for performers from ages 8 and older. “The Sound of Music” opens Sept. 22, and the performances will run through Oct. 8. For tickets, visit

Maria from Sound of Music, performed at the Lyric Music Theater Lyric Music Theater

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