FIRST?Editor: I am writing to you in reference to...


January 01, 1995


Editor: I am writing to you in reference to your feature story in the Oct. 23, 1994 Sun Magazine entitled "The Next Act." In that article on the Lyric Theater, you stated that Marian Anderson was the first major African-American performer to appear at the Lyric and that she broke the racial barrier for others. I think our dance class, which performed on the Lyric stage on Friday, May 18, 1928, may have been the first all-African-American group to perform there.

I would have had nothing to prove this if it had not been for Mrs. Cynthia Wren. Her cousin, Mrs. Alice Wiggins Chalmers, was featured as "Blue Bell" in this production. Mrs. Chalmers is deceased, but among her personal papers was the actual program from this production [pictured above].

I, Mrs. Dorice Wilson Milligan, was a member of the "Follies Girls" in the production. I can recall how afterward the adults would stay at the Lyric and attend the "May Ball." The women would be dressed in beautiful gowns. It was a very festive affair. Also, I remember Professor Toomey would stage variety shows at the Lyric featuring his other students who played piano, sang and danced. I also played "Miss Muffett" in another production, produced by Professor Toomey, at the Lyric. In all, I performed at the Lyric three times.

If it had not been for the program Mrs. Wren found I would not have any way to prove my claim. That is why I feel our dance group was possibly among the first, if not the first, African-Americans to break the racial barrier at the Lyric. Thank you for allowing us to bring this to your attention.

!Dorice Wilson Milligan


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