Group working to restore Lyceum Theater

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo From left, Mission Improv-able members Chris Trevino, Nick Johnson, Brandon Tautfest, Lydia White and Alexis Richards perform during a benefit show for the Lyceum Theatre. A nonprofit that leases the building from the city is trying to raise $10,000 for paint work.

Kevin Wilson

Fans of Clovis’ Lyceum Theater profess the building’s long and rich history. The aim, one donation at a time, is to ensure it has a long and rich future.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” said Susan Ferrell, board president for the Lyceum Theatre, Inc. nonprofit group. “It’s something that’s very hard to find, a theater that’s still intact and original.”

The theater, first opened in 1921, is still in use, hosting such activities as a High Plains Patriots candidate forum, musical performances and recent improvisation group shows.

But the nonprofit, which leases the building from the city, notes that improvements are necessary.

“It’s usable as it is, but we do need to do some things,” Ferrell said. “Sometimes (the lighting) works OK, sometimes it comes and goes. It desperately needs to be updated.”

Though not every item has been budgeted, Ferrell assumed $40,000 to $50,000 would cover many of the improvements the building needs.

Brandon Tautfest, a member of the Lyceum board, said the first goal is $10,000 to paint the theater. A few hundred dollars have come from a recent show by Mission Improvable, a comedy improvisation group created specifically to raise money for the effort.

There are more than a dozen members of the group, but Tautfest said he only brings about eight people per show and rotates people as needed.

“You don’t want to perform in big groups because it gets really complicated,” Tautfest said. “We definitely have the public excited about what’s going on (with the theater).”

The last show, a donation-only show, drew more than 100 people. Another benefit show is planned for July 23.

Other work needed besides painting, Ferrell said, includes stage lighting ($12,000-$15,000 estimate) and work on the marquee and carpeting.

“I’m trying to find a company that can duplicate the original carpeting,” Ferrell said. “I don’t know what the cost of that will be.”

The building has been owned by the city since 1982.