Apparently everyone but us knew the above building on Eighth Avenue Maylands used to be a cinema. We should have guessed from the shape of the rear of the place, but we didn’t. In any case, welcome to the Lyric Theatre.
Opening on 31 August 1923, there was a small hiccup because the circle had not yet been inspected for safety regulations, so only the ground floor was available. This didn’t stop the owners, though, who weren’t going to put off showing their opening flick, ‘The Flirt’.
This pre-Hays Code movie was based on the best-selling novel by Booth Tarkington. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find out much about it (many films of this era are now lost, and this may be one of them). But it was remade in 1931 as ‘The Bad Sister’ which marked the screen debut of Bette Davis, who apparently had eyes. If you have a spare hour, enjoy it here:
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Lyric, and in 1949 patrons complained that management had raised ticket prices despite torn seats with springs protruding through the covers. The theatre was unmoved, claiming customers should be grateful the seating was upholstered at all.
The Lyric closed in June 1961, after which it became an electrical goods showroom, then a growers’ market, a Red Shield Op-shop, a BWS, and now hosts a coffee shop, which makes a great skinny flat white as we found out this morning.
As Maylands continues to bloom perhaps it’s time for a micro cinema in memory of the Lyric. But with better seating.