About Us

In 1977, a group of Seattle opera enthusiasts decided it was time to produce some lighter fare than what local companies were offering. Civic Light Opera was born and the music of German composer Johann Strauss, Jr., British composers Gilbert and Sullivan, and American Composer Victor Herbert filled the auditorium for the first two seasons.


Although the productions were sound, the audiences who attended the operettas were really in the mood for good old American musical theatre – and by 1980, there were plenty of excellent options. The third season of CLO included MAN OF LAMANCHA, CAROUSEL, and KISMET.

The original home of Civic Light Opera was the James Addams School Theatre, located in Lake City. The company performed on that stage for 25 seasons. In 2002, the company moved operations to the Shoreline Community Center, but when Seattle’s Magnuson Park theatre became available for rent in 2004, Civic Light Opera moved closer to their many subscribers and supporters. The current venue is the original movie theater of the Sand Point Naval Air Station, which closed in 1981.

As the years went on, the name Civic Light Opera was considered a misnomer by some, since the company no longer performed operettas. More change was in the air for our beloved theatre, and in 2006 the Board of Directors changed the name to Seattle Musical Theatre, presented by Civic Light Opera.

Photos © Jeff Carpenter


Today, as Seattle Musical Theatre enters its 39th season, we welcome a new Managing Artistic Director, Chris Mayse. Chris will help take us to the next level in producing quality musical theatre that appeals to diverse audiences, including the classic musicals we all know and love to more recent musicals that have hit Broadway by storm. Our 2016-17 season includes WORKING, SWEENEY TODD, LITTLE WOMEN, and KISS ME KATE.

Actors who share their talents with the company include both seasoned professionals and those just starting out in the business. Many of our actors and artistic teams have day jobs, but their love of musical theatre and the opportunity to hone their craft while being a part of terrific productions keeps them coming back to play time and time again.


The company holds a long-term lease with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Parks Department. Some facility renovations to bring a state-of-the-art venue to Magnuson Park have begun while others are still in the planning stages.