The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 13, 2005


Savoyard Light Opera Company staying in Carlisle

Members of the Savoyard Light Opera Company (SLOC), who were told they would no longer be welcome to use Corey Auditorium for their annual performances due to space constraints at the school, recently received some good news. After careful consideration, Superintendent Marie Doyle and the School Committee reversed a decision made last year at this time and has invited the group to return to Carlisle after all.

The musical The Secret Garden, performed this past November, was to be the last SLOC show presented at Corey Auditorium, where the group has performed an annual Gilbert & Sullivan operetta or Broadway musical for the past 16 years. Among the problems cited by the school during the group's three-week rehearsal and performance schedule were the displacement of students and teachers who used the stage and auditorium for classes, and the problem of storing the first two rows of auditorium seats, which are removed to accommodate the pit orchestra. Because some of these seats were stored in hallways, there was a concern that students might have trouble exiting the building in case of fire.

In spite of the decision made last year by then-Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson and the school board to oust the group, members of SLOC decided to make their plight public and found support among local residents and theater-goers from surrounding towns. Although it was agreed that the school's needs take priority, some long-time Carlisleans recalled that Corey Auditorium was originally built for community use as well as for school use. Others voiced disappointment at the loss of a local cultural experience.

Although some issues — most specifically auditorium seat storage — are still being discussed, Superintendent Marie Doyle has met with SLOC member (and long time Carlislean) Philip Drew, SLOC President Brian Harris and Carlisle School Grounds Superintendent David Flannery in recent months to find compromises. "I'm confident that we're going to work it out. We've resolved a lot," said Doyle, noting that issues involving the school schedule and custodial help have already been successfully addressed. "We're committed to working with the community and utilizing our space for the community as well as the school," she added.

Drew, who brought SLOC to Carlisle in 1989, says he is confident "we can dispose of these problems without too much fuss." This fall, Drew says, SLOC may store the troublesome auditorium seats at the Historical Society barn on Concord Street (where SLOC stage sets are created and stored), or in an outdoor storage container.

But no matter what compromises must still be made, it is clear that the Savoyard Light Opera Company is back in Carlisle for another year. Auditions for this year's show, Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, take place this Monday and Tuesday at the First Religious Society (for more information, visit the web site: The musical will be performed weekends between November 11 and 20 at the Corey Auditorium, the group's 17th year in Carlisle.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito