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CLO History

Exceptional Musical Theater for More Than Half a Century

On February 20, 1946, the Civic Light Opera Association held a press luncheon to announce its very first season. Immediately, talk of a new era in Pittsburgh’s cultural life made a huge splash in all three of the city’s daily newspapers. In fact, the Sun Telegraph predicted that “the CLO will inaugurate a cycle in the city’s musical history that will outlive us all.”

How right they were!

1946   Civic Light Opera premieres at Pitt Stadium
1955    The Civic Light Opera Guild is established
1959    Civic Light Opera moves to the Melody Tent

The Civic Arena is built for the CLO displaying the world’s first retractable roof. Audiences enjoy musical theater “under the stars”

Pittsburgh CLO Melody Tent

1972    Pittsburgh CLO moves to the beautifully renovated Heinz Hall
1985    The Gallery of Heroes program is established
1988   Pittsburgh CLO expands to their current home in the Benedum Center
1989    The doors open at the CLO Academy of Musical Theater
1991    The premiere of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater
1992   A Musical Christmas Carol opens at the Byham Theater
2001    CLO/CMU New Works Project, a collaborative effort, is established to encourage the development and refinement of new works of the American musical theater
2004    Pittsburgh CLO introduces year-round entertainment with the opening of The CLO Cabaret at Theater Square  
2005   Pittsburgh CLO helps form Elephant Eye Theatricals as a member of 5 Cent Productions to find new and innovative ways to develop material to play not only in Pittsburgh but also on the world stage
2009   Pittsburgh CLO and Nederlander Alliances, LLC establish The National High School Musical Theater Awards and present the first annual Jimmy Awards in New York City on June 29. 2009
2010   Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 20 years of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater
2011   Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 20 years of A Musical Christmas Carol at the Byham Theater
2014   Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 10 years of the CLO Cabaret

Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 25 years of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater and 25 years of the Pittsburgh CLO Academy

Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 30 years of Gallery of Heroes

 The future is bright for Pittsburgh CLO!