Helpern Architects

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No one knows the Lyric Theater better than Senior Associate Don Lasker, who has just restored the Lyric. Again.

Helpern Architects, with Don as the lead architect, has brought the historic theater to its appearance and structure before the production of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark necessitated a complete reworking of the stage, orchestra front, and roof, as well as removal of the proscenium arch, side boxes, and more.

The first time Don worked on the Lyric was 1996 as part of the design team that combined two small and neglected theaters between West 42nd and 43rd Streets, to create the second largest theater on Broadway with just under 2,000 seats. They salvaged the landmarked façades of the Lyric, originally built in 1903, and many elements of the heavily-ornamented, also-landmarked interior of the 1910 Apollo – but essentially the Lyric is a new building for large-scale productions with wonderful historic details. That work was done under New 42nd Street’s Times Square redevelopment guidelines to “promote the preservation, restoration and reconstruction of the historically significant elements of each theatre.”

Ten years later, Don’s own architecture firm dismantled the stage and greatly reinforced its infrastructure to make way for the elaborate high-tech sets, equipment, and machinery for Spiderman. The orchestra pit was removed down to bedrock to accommodate the show’s lifts, side boxes were dismantled, even the proscenium was detached and carefully stored.

As the contract required, the production had to restore the theater to its original aspect. So in 2015, with Spiderman closed and with Don as a senior member of the staff, we recreated the recreated theater and stage for the new owners. We restored and strengthened the cast-plaster proscenium arch, filled in pit changes with a flexible flooring system, closed up the ceiling, and reinstalled the boxes.