The Charleston Light Opera Guild was founded in 1949 by area vocal teachers and a relocated former professional singer and actor, Leonard Stocker. The first production was HMS Pinafore. Early productions were operettas.

The Guild is a community theatre that strives to present quality classic, new and cutting edge musical theatre to area audiences at affordable prices and to provide an outlet for nurturing the talents of singers, actors, dancers, musicians and behind the scenes civic volunteers.

Over 225 productions have been mounted of over 130 unique musicals.

A production of Oklahoma! in 1960 introduced the Broadway musical.

All casts are chosen in open auditions by the show directors and an audition committee.

Annually Guild productions provide performance opportunities for over 200 singers, actors, dancers, and orchestra members.

Over 14,000 audience members view a Guild production each year and co-productions with the Clay Center enable another 2,400 students to attend a performance.

Productions are mounted in the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre, Clay Center Maier Performance Hall, Norman L. Fagan State Theatre at the Culture Center and at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild owns and maintains its own theatre and workshop where costumes are stored, some sets are built, productions are rehearsed and some smaller and summer musicals are presented.

The Guild has an active summer theatre program that is over forty years old. Summer theatre has mostly been designed for older high school and college age students plus young adults.

The first Guild African–American musical, The Wiz, was mounted thirty years ago.

The Guild is governed by an elected Board of Directors and a contracted artistic and musical director.

The Guild has mounted a new production for FestivALL Charleston since FestivALL's origin in 2005.

The Guild credits many working professionals in theatre, dance, music and production among its alumni including Jennifer Garner, Kathy Mattea, Ann Magnuson, and Joe Chrest.

A gala benefit show and reception was hosted by Golden Globe winning actress and Guild alumna Jennifer Garner during the FestivALL 2009 production of Thouroughly Modern Millie at the Charleston Civic Center. The Charleston Light Opera Guild presented The Civil War at the Culture Center in June 2013 as part of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission's official commemoration of West Virginia's 150th birthday. Guest artists included West Virginia native and noted actor David Selby who appeared as Abraham Lincoln on June 20 and Mountain Stage host Larry Groce. In February 2014 the Guild recognized 40 years of continual summer theatre for teens and young adults by reprising the first summer theatre production, Godspell. Many original cast members were present including Grammy winner and honoree Kathy Mattea.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild is the recipient of the Mayor's Award for the Arts, the 2016 Arts to the Max Award from Charleston Area Alliance and an award for Excellence in Support of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts Organization Leadership Recognition presented at the 2016 Governor's Arts Awards.

Proceeds from ticket sales only cover a small portion of the cost of producing a musical. The group is most grateful for sponsorships, grants, and donors.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild was honored as the recipient of the Arts Organization of the Year at the 2018 Governor's Awards for the Arts.

Show History