The Lyric Theatre, now the home of Tupelo Community Theatre, has undergone many changes since its inception in 1912.
R. F. Goodlett sought financial backers in 1912 to build a vaudeville theater called “The Comus.” The Comus produced live theater until 1931 when it was purchased by the M.A. Lightman Company chain and then turned into a movie theater. At that time, the facility received the iconic marquee everyone knows today.
From 1931 to 1984, many tales came out of the movie house, like Elvis Presley’s first kiss on the balcony during a Saturday matinee. Still, it was the 1936 tornado that practically leveled Tupelo, killing an unprecedented number in its path, which gave credence – and still does – to the theatre’s most extraordinary story. This story has become a part of the Lyric’s history and its present.
Antoine. Nobody knows where this name came from, but he is a presence many have claimed to have felt but often can’t quite put into words. Tupelo Community Theatre inherited the mischievous spirit and his story when they acquired the Lyric theater in the mid-1980s. Some guests and theatre employees see him as a glowing light, while others hear a childlike giggle in the darkness of the iconic and historic structure.
Two stories of Antoine have followed the theatre to this day.
The first story is that Antoine was the theatre’s caretaker. Antoine has been said to have worked under the stage, shoveling coal. It is also believed he may have had an apartment within the Lyric and lived there as he looked after the theatre.
The second and more popular legend is that Antoine was a small child killed during the deadly tornado of 1936.
The theatre was one of the few buildings left standing after Tupelo’s deadly twister of 1936, and it was used as a makeshift hospital and morgue after the F5 tornado’s aftermath.
Perhaps, Antoine was brought to The Lyric after the tornado and died there…no one will ever really know.
Still, strange things happen daily in Tupelo’s Community Theatre.
The Lyric Theatre was listed as one of America’s six most haunted theaters in 2001 and is still one of Mississippi’s most haunted theaters today.
As the Lyric continues to entertain guests from near and far with outstanding shows full of local talent, several guests of the iconic theatre have reported seeing lights flickering, sounds and giggles with no explanation, and other odd sightings.
Tupelo Community Theatre has brought back its “Haunted Theatre” production this year, after a three-year hiatus, due to Covid-19. Shows take place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Guests are guaranteed a spooky and entertaining evening and, perhaps, a double feature of sorts, if Antoine is there.