Silver Lake’s Lyric Hyperion Theater Almost Closed Forever, But Dr. Strange Is Helping It Come Back
The Lyric Hyperion theater has been a beloved part of the Silver Lake community for decades, featuring comedy, theater, improv classes, and more. It was on the verge of closing for good during the pandemic, and the location was even up for sale.
But in a last-minute plot twist, the theater just held its grand reopening. That’s thanks to Kaela Green and Brandon Wood stepping in as the venue’s new operators.
The owner wanted to keep it an indie theater and have it serve as a community hub for local performers and other artists. But following a bad experience with previous venue operators, its future was in doubt. If Green and Wood hadn’t come along, the site could have become something else.
“It would have been a bummer to see it go — or turn into a gym,” former Lyric performer Pam Severn said. She’s been involved with the theater and its comedy scene since around 2016, performing and producing a variety of shows — including ones featuring her own puppetry skills.
“We heard gym, we heard Chinese food restaurant,” Green said. “But the community had very much been in love with the Lyric for the past 18 years, and it would have been devastated had it transitioned to something else.”
Enter The Multiverse
Before the pandemic, one of Wood’s big projects was producing musical parodies, based around current movies and TV shows. They’re built in the style of a jukebox musical, mixing in popular songs.
“That’s what led me to the Lyric, was looking for a home for these shows that I wrote pre-pandemic, that were just unfortunately sitting on the shelf for a bit. I was looking for a place in L.A. to produce them,” Wood said.
The venue is using a new parody musical, a Marvel send-up called The Streaming-Verse of Madness: An Unauthorized Musical Parody, as its grand reopening calling card. The intimate venue, with room to seat around 65, features seven people in its cast and a four-person live band.
“There’s a ton of pop culture references. We bounce from one world to the next in this show specifically,” Wood said.
The show includes references to The Walking Dead, The Office, The Bachelorette, and much more.
Wood’s from New York, bringing credentials as an actor in shows on Broadway and beyond. He’s also been a producer, writer, and director, and he’s run a national touring theater for young actors. Meanwhile, Green comes from outside the theater world, bringing a Master’s in business from Pepperdine and a background in aerospace and health care.
Wood and Green didn’t know a lot about the Lyric coming in, but Wood knew he wanted either a performance space with some restaurant capabilities, or a restaurant with a performance space. That’s because his shows include themed menu items, including drinks. They took their business plan to the Lyric’s owner and sold him on their plan, keeping it as a theater while evolving it to feature more musical comedy. Severn compared the new style to another venue lost during the pandemic, Los Feliz Village’s Rockwell Table and Stage.
When we took over this space, our goal was truly to be an inclusive environment — to give a variety of people different voices.
The Lyric has been remodeled, with new cabaret-style seating and expanded restaurant capabilities, including food delivered to you in your seat. They plan to produce more original programming, with pop-culture parody musicals every other month.
“That’s where we’re transitioning to: more of these in-house-produced, high-quality, immersive parody musical styles that Brandon writes,” Green said.
The plan is to use the off months to prepare and rehearse the next musical. The Lyric is also serving as the new home of the California Comedy Club, delivering a variety of stand-up performances, including showcases and shows featuring headliners. They’ll also still be making space for outside producers and local artists, as well as co-producing shows with outside artists and producers, particularly on weekends without other shows and on weeknights.
“When we took over this space, our goal was truly to be an inclusive environment — to give a variety of people different voices. So we want to continue that as we move forward,” Green said.
Building A Business In A New Phase Of The Pandemic
The theater’s history goes back even longer than the Lyric Hyperion name. It once housed Leonard Nimoy and Richard Chamberlain’s theater troupe, Company of Angels, which took over the venue in the late 1980s.
“Now it’s got a whole new life,” Severn said.
The theater had a soft opening in December, featuring a large number of rentals of the space for other shows. They’ve been waiting to get a new beer and wine license before announcing their full reopening.
“A lot of our business plans kind of took a backseat, slightly, while we waited for that to get resolved,” Wood said.
“I think everyone knows that, with the global pandemic, it’s a struggle for small businesses to get back up and operating,” Green said. “We’re here, we’re ready for you.”
It’s an informal atmosphere, with patrons encouraged to take photos and video during the show, and to post that on social media. Their revamped food service also includes new branding for the theater’s cafe — it’s now known as the Bravo Bistro.
“We just want to continue to expand the outreach of the Lyric, so more people can be in on the secret,” Wood said.
The Lyric has inspired a lot of warm feelings over the years. Severn stepped back from performing during the pandemic, but she’s still supporting the venue and helping to promote their return.
“Everyone who’s been to the Lyric before the pandemic,” Wood said, “they speak so fondly of their memories there. And we really, truly value that — we want to expand on that, and build to that.”
You can see The Streaming-Verse of Madness at the Lyric Hyperion, Thursdays through Sundays, until July 24 — and there will be more parody musicals in the months to come.
Location: 2106 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles
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