Iron Range Theatre Making Renovations

1912 Opera House is One of Few Remaining Vaudeville Theatres in Minnesota

VIRGINIA, Minn. – A truly historic theatre in Virginia is undergoing major renovations.

Virginia’s Lyric Opera House opened in 1912 and remains one of Minnesota’s last remaining vaudeville theatres.

“You can feel the creativity,” says Lyric Center for the Arts Executive Director Mary McReynolds. “You can feel the history.”

“The sound, the sight lines, the closeness, the intimacy to the stage; that all really brings out whatever is being presented,” says Pete Pellinen, Board President of the Center and Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre.

Nobody has seen a movie at the Lyric since the 1950s or a live show since the 1930s.

“You don’t experience it the same way by yourself that you do when you’re with a whole group of people,” says Pellinen.

So, the theatre is being renovated, and the people at the Lyric are hoping that, within the next decade, Iron Rangers will be able to enjoy great performances right here at the historic 1912 theatre.

“Most of the other theatres that were in this town no longer exist,” says Pellinen. “If the building, a shell of the building is still there, it no longer resembles a theatre. We were very lucky that this one continues the way it did. Waiting for us I think.”

That will give audiences and performers a long awaited live venue.

“The Iron Range and every place else on this side of the grass has a lot of very talented artists, whether they are fine artists or performing artists,” says Pellinen.

The Lyric Center already has an art gallery and children’s theatre, but the old space would add a special atmosphere and bring more activity to Downtown Virginia.

“The acoustics are phenomenal. You can’t find that, you can’t recreate it anywhere,” says McReynolds.

“Being right there on the main street of this small community gives you the opportunity to take advantage of some of the other things that exist on our main street,” says Pellinen.

Renovations are ongoing but more funds are needed to complete the project.

“Everyone needs to be exposed to the arts,” says McReynolds. “It just makes a community where people want to live and where they want to visit.”

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for people to donate to the project: https://www.gofundme.com/lyricstorefront?ssid=794358395&pos=1

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