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Michael Jackson fans get their thrills at this historic West End theatre
Today, Lyric Theatre is the home of 'Thriller Live', the Michael Jackson jukebox musical that's been getting fans moonwalking with delight since 2009. But behind the '80s tastic hoardings, this theatre has a history that stretches back centuries.
The theatre's facade doesn't have the grand neoclassical stylings or Victorian gothic flourishes of most of its West End neighbours, for a very good reason: it's actually built inside the remnants of an old house. Dr William Hunter was an anatomist, and collector of horrible-but-probably-scientifically-important things in jars whose 1776 residence acted both as his home and as a medical museum. These days, his collection can be seen at the Hunterian Museum, because in 1886, the interior of his former house was gutted and fitted out with state-of-the-art Victorian theatre which regaled audiences with the lighter kind of musical comedies.
The Lyric Theatre relied on then-cutting-edge hydraulic technology, using water from the River Thames to power its lifts and backstage machinery. Today, it still raises its curtain using hydraulic power, in an auditorium that retains much of its original 19th century sumptuousness. There are 915 seats on four levels, supported by golden columns and topped off by a grand ceiling with a central chandelier.
Before the success of 'Thriller Live', some of the Lyric Theatre's most successful shows include the original West End production of 'Blood Brothers', the jukebox show 'Five Guys Named Mo', and 'How the Other Half Loves', the 1969 adultery comedy that made playwright Alan Ayckbourn's name.
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