"The idea of School and the idea of Theatre are nothing but the same idea. They were born together."
~ Jean Cocteau ~
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS - Summer Theatre Conservatory 2008
Founded in 1987 by Director/Musical Director/Theatre Educator, Diane Feldman, the award-winning CHILDREN’S CIVIC LIGHT OPERA Theatre Company - (affectionately known as, "CCLO") - was a comprehensive theatre company dedicated to providing quality experiences and opportunities in the Performing Arts. The celebrated company specialized in Musical Theatre, Drama, Educational Theatre, Exploratory Creative Dramatics and Theatre for Social/Emotional Wellness, for children, teenagers and young adults. Additionally, CCLO provided training and opportunity for students interested in pursuing Theatrical Design, Technical Theatre, Theatre Education and Theatrical Management and Producing.
Through productions, classes, workshops, and conservatories, CCLO opened doors for creative expression and performance, and encouraged students to excavate and discover unknown talents, cultivate the undeveloped ones, and expand upon their existing skills. CCLO inspired countless students to apply their full theatrical and personal potential.
CCLO taught participants to have trust in and rely on themselves, both as individuals and as part of an Ensemble. The company provided opportunities for students to experience the power and magic of live theatre as performers and observers, thinkers and commentators. Everyone's thoughts, ideas and suggestions were encouraged and welcomed. CCLO will always maintain its belief: each student possesses unique energies and unlimited capabilities, and is a valuable contributor to every process and project.
It was key for CCLO to impart skills that could be applied both on, and off of, "the stage." Parallels were always drawn between learning and life. A variety of theatrical modes and methods were integrated into rehearsals and classes to develop well-rounded, self-assured performers, and well-rounded, self-assured people. CCLO prided itself on creating and maintaining a safe, supportive, energetic, engaging, activated, bolstering, validating and nurturing environment where students always felt comfortable exploring, experimenting with, and exercising their theatrical and personal skills, and could apply them confidently in rehearsal, performance, and beyond.
CCLO's high theatrical standards, belief in the theatrical process, and unparalleled commitment to all participants, enabled them to achieve their mission year after year.
Every Theatrician was celebrated! Every Alum is cherished!
*Visit our Alumni Archives to catch up with castmates!
Some Fun Facts
What exactly is a Civic Light Opera? (People see the word “Opera” and often assume it is a group that performs Opera, as in “grand opera,” a theatrical genre established as an art form in the late 1500’s.) However, in the words of George and Ira Gershwin, “It Ain’t Necessarily So!”
A Civic Light Opera is a theatre company typically presenting what is referred to as, "Musical Theatre;" productions that tell stories through a combination of song, dance and dialogue (ex: A CHORUS LINE, 42nd STREET, ANNIE). Though some productions may place a heavier emphasis on one aspect or another - (ex: LES MISERABLES has very little dialogue, minimal dance, and tells story primarily through music and vocals, thus it could be considered an operetta or a "Light Opera") - all Musical Theatre productions incorporate all three elements.
Civic Light Opera's are usually named for, and affiliated with, the city or region they call home. (i.e.: Fullerton Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Civic Light Opera of South Bat Cities ...)
So, how did Diane come up with the name?
Shakespeare posed an infamous question: “What’s In A name?” When CCLO was created, Diane honored that question. Not only did she want the name to represent CCLO's unique identity, she wanted it to embody the
essence of CCLO's work with young people. And, young people are, and always will be, in cities and regions all over the world! The name had to behold something special, something significant, something that could honor the past, present and future. Diane also wanted the name to pay homage to the world’s most revered storytelling tradition: Theatre! Thus, the name and its significance were born: Children's Civic Light Opera Theatre Company (CCLO), a home for young people anywhere and everywhere who want to explore, experience, learn, grow, connect, evolve, transform and tell stories through the inimitable craft of the Performing Arts.
*Civic Light Operas are not limited to Musical Theatre productions. Many companies, including Children’s Civic Light Opera, produce a variety of theatrical genres.
Many who grew up with CCLO have worked on Broadway in productions such as HAMILTON, PIPPIN, MAMMA MIA, CHICAGO & EVITA. Others are working in the world of Music, Television, Film and Theatrical Design, and have worked alongside well-known artists such as Kristin Chenoweth, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Sherri Shepherd, Jayma Mays - just to name a few.
Some non-performance careers our alumni are enjoying: lawyers, professors, scientists, writers, nurses, inventors, talent agents, photographers, realtors, animators, therapists, composers, doulas - and the list extends.
We could fill three summer sessions with all the babies born to our alums! We love watching our students and staff become mothers and fathers, and we have even had the gift of working with the kids of our kids! We absolutely loved spending time with the next generation, and are excited to continuing sharing theatre with more and more of them as we grow our new Theatre Collective!
Pictured here: One of our original cast members from 1987: Traci Cray Adams! (center, in a loving exchange with Founder, Diane Feldman.)
Traci's son and daughter are in front of her, AND her parents, our dear, original Sound Designers, Teri Cray and Michael Lanham (SEQUOIA SOUND)
are standing next to Diane. Three generations! What blessings!
We are still in contact with 90% of our Alums! We have even had the joy of working with them in their adulthood!
We created a program for our parents: how abs
CCLO company members, as well as their families, returned to work and volunteer with CCLO long after their "graduation" from our programs. Close and long-lasting friendships have been established: some alums and their families are celebrating more than
30 years together!
Pictured here: Sarah Cowan (8 years as a performer with CCLO, 4 years on Staff.) She is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Stage and Production Management at Guildford School of Acting in England after receiving her Bachelor's Degree in Honors Drama and Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Our collaborative, capable, confident Team was comprised of established Artists and dedicated Educators who had many years of experience and much expertise in their respective fields. (Many will join us in our next adventure!) We were wonderfully fortunate to have many CCLO Alumni return as Instructors, Directors, Designers, Guest Artists and support staff.
Founder | Director | Musical Director | Accompanist | Producer
Diane created and founded CCLO in 1987. After designing and establishing the Drama Camp at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, (which remains in operation today), Diane recognized the need to provide healthy and comprehensive performing arts training for young people in the community on a larger and more developed level. CCLO continued to evolve for 30 years and was the inspiration and model for the development of several theatre companies in and around the Los Angeles area.
You can learn more about Diane by visiting her website: click here!
PHOTOS and BIOS of the CCLO Team will make their debut soon...
* CCLO Alumni
*BRADY FROME - CO-DIRECTOR, Just KIDding Division
KATIE BLACKSMITH ADAMS - CHOREOGRAPHER
*ALYCE TAWIL- ASSISTANT DIRECTOR / TEACHING STAFF
*SARAH COWAN - ASSISTANT TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / PRODUCTION COORDINATOR
*BENINA STERN - PRODUCTION COORDINATOR / TEACHING STAFF
*EMMA LARAMIE - PRODUCTION COORDINATOR / TEACHING STAFF
ROB FRITZ (AirLight Design) - LIGHTING DESIGN
JOHN ONG, - SET DESIGN / TECHNICAL DIRECTION / MASTER CARPENTER / PHOTOGRAPHER
JP LUCKENBACH - SET DESIGN / TECHNICAL DIRECTION
MIRIAM DAFFORD HELLMAN - ART DIRECTOR / SCENIC PAINTING
NICKI HIRATA - COSTUME DESIGN
SANDEE YAMAMOTO - HAIR and MAKE-UP DESIGN
RONI KOSMAL- HAIR and MAKE-UP DESIGN
JEFF MARKGRAF - CONDUCTOR
Courtney Bradshaw - CHOREOGRAPHER
Noelle Britton - THEATRE STAFF / ACTING COACH
*Katie Burton - THEATRE STAFF
COBY CHASMAN-BECK - ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGN / MASTER ELECTRICIAN
Teri Cray and Michael Lanham - SOUND DESIGN (SEQUOIA SOUND)
*Sarah Cowan - STAGE MANAGER / TECHNICAL ASSISTANT
*Traci Cray - THEATRE STAFF
*Sean Eads - ASSISTANT MUSICAL DIRECTOR / REHEARSAL PIANIST
*Cory Fitzgerald - LIGHTING DESIGN
Jim Fleck - SOUND DESIGN (SYNC-IT-UP SOUND)
James Jones III - LIGHTING DESIGN
*Emma Laramie - THEATRE STAFF (Main Stage and Just KIDding Divisions)
Sharie Nitkin - COSTUME DESIGN
Rebecca Pappas - CHOREOGRAPHER
*Benjamin Pitt - THEATRE STAFF / MEDIA
Kelly Todd Robinson - CHOREOGRAPHER / SET DESIGN
James Schipper - LIGHTING DESIGN
Matthew Shulman - ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGN / MASTER ELECTRICIAN
Sarah Schuessler - COSTUME DESIGN
Andrea Burns Sommers - SET DESIGN / COSTUME DESIGN
Joseph Scalzo - ASSISTANT SET DESIGN / STAFF
*Benina Stern - THEATRE STAFF / MEDIA (Main Stage and Just KIDding Divisions)
*Alyce Tawil Grossman - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, VOCAL COACH
*Allison Weintraub - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR / ACTING COACH / CO-DIRECTOR Just KIDding Division
Teresa White - CHOREOGRAPHER
*Emily Winnie - Co-DIRECTOR Just KIDding Division / THEATRE STAFF
*Melissa Becker Yoshitomi - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ACTING COACH
* CCLO Alum