The History of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre
Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Atlanta’s only local professional musical theater company, was formed in 1980 by Tedi and Robert Langdon and Sally Knap as the Southeastern Savoyards, a repertory theatre company dedicated to presenting the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The company’s first production, Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, was performed at Emory University in December 1980. Later, the company’s productions were moved to the Marist School, the 14th Street Playhouse, Center Stage Theater, and then to the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts on the campus of Georgia Tech where the company’s main stage performances were produced for seventeen seasons.
As the company grew into a highly regarded regional musical theater company, its repertoire expanded beyond Gilbert & Sullivan into light opera and musical theater and the company changed its name to The Savoyards Light Opera, then The Savoyards Musical Theater Company, and finally in 1998 to Atlanta Lyric Theatre. In May, 2005, Atlanta Lyric Theatre relocated its headquarters into a new office and performance space off Northside Drive called The Byers Studio Theatre at The Lyric.
J. Lynn Thompson served as the company’s original Music Director, Conductor and as Artistic Director until his retirement in 2007. In May 2007, New Orleans native and award-wining director/producer Brandt Blocker became the new Artistic Director and General Manager of Atlanta Lyric Theatre. Blocker embarked on an ambitious program to reorganize the company’s management, to transform the professional production values of the company’s shows, to reach out to new audiences and expand the season subscriber base, and to secure a permanent and first-rate performance venue for the company.
From 2008-2012, the Lyric performed at the Strand theatre on the Marietta Square. In 2013, the Lyric found its home at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre on the Cobb Civic Center Complex. This 600 seat theatre is the perfect venue for Lyric to produce high-caliber, technically demanding shows. In this new location, Blocker could truly stretch the company to its full potential. In November of 2016, Blocker announced his family was moving to Hong Kong and he would be stepping down as Artistic Director. Staff member, Mary Nye Bennett stepped into the position of artistic Director in December that same year.