New Orleans' largest African American vaudeville theater in the 1920s hosted many jazz, blues and vaudeville stars, and featured the John Robichaux Orchestra.

During the 1920s, the Lyric Theater was New Orleans premiere African American vaudeville theater.

Formerly located at the downtown-lake corner of Burgundy and Iberville streets in the French Quarter, the Lyric Theater was touted as “America’s Largest and Finest Colored Theater." The playhouse catered to great musicians and featured the orchestra of locally prominent violinist and bandleader Professor John Robichaux. The orchestra was adept at performing both hot jazz and more formal orchestral music. Pianist Margaret Maurice, drummer Zutty Singleton, clarinetist Alphonse Picou, and cornetist Andrew Kimball all performed in the orchestra.

From 1919 to 1927, the theater hosted well-known singers, dancers, and entertainers working the Theater Owners Booking Assoc. (TOBA) black vaudeville circuit, including Esther Bigeou, Sara Martin, Josephine Baker, and Ethel Waters.

The theater often held "midnight frolics" for white-only audiences. Local white newspapers promoted these midnight performances as the latest popular entertainment for their white patrons.

Cornetist/Trumpeter Punch Miller, in a Hogan Jazz Archives interview, remembered: "The Lyric used to be crowded every day in the week, upstairs and downstairs. A group would come for a week, start a new show Monday, play it Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then on Thursday they would change the show, have the same cast, but a different show. Friday and Saturday they had "midnight rambles" which were different, a little nasty. They started at 11, ended at around 2 am. They would let the white people in on "ramble" nights." [3]

Louis Armstrong also remembered the Lyric with fondness: "I went to the Lyric Theater quite often. Located downtown on Iberville and Burgundy streets. Robichaux Orchestra was always the best. They all read music. John Robichaux. They used to play for the stage shows. Andrew Kimball was the cornetist in the band (my choice)." [4]



1001 Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA