Skip to main content

Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera Collection

Identifier: M415

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of playbills, photographs, scrapbooks, posters, correspondence, bylaws, budgets, and memorabilia of the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera. It also includes newspaper clippings and production notes for some HCLO shows. This collection should be of interest to researchers of local theatrical organizations, or those interested in forming such groups.


  • Creation: 1976-2005


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Since its founding, the goal of the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera (HCLO) has been to bring quality entertainment to Hattiesburg residents and provide an outlet for community members to share their various artistic talents with their neighbors. The HCLO was founded by Bob Mesrobian in 1976, with the integral support of the Hattiesburg Mayor and Commissioners and Forrest County Supervisors. Mesrobian served as the first artistic director. The first Board of Directors was led by Jess Hughes (president), Dr. William Poirier (vice president), Martha Tatum (treasurer), and Glenda Brundage (secretary). The first HCLO production was The Barber of Seville, which was staged at the Thames School Auditorium in the spring of 1976.

Also in 1976, the HCLO joined other civic organizations in renovating the Saenger Theatre in downtown Hattiesburg. With money from the city and various fund raising efforts, the HCLO renovated the performance facilities at the Saenger, while other organizations concentrated on restoring the lobby, based on the original architectural plans of the building. The first performance in the newly renovated Saenger was Amahl and the Night Visitors (December 1976).

The HCLO was chartered as a non-profit organization in 1977, and in the years since its inception, it has produced 71 shows (as of 2005). These productions spice up the night-life of downtown Hattiesburg, and participation in the HCLO performances has allowed hundreds of locals to learn about play production and share their talents and enthusiasm for artistic endeavors with other members of the community.


5.50 Cubic Feet (total)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged in four series:

Series I: Playbills

Series II: Production and Publicity

Series III: HCLO Business

Series IV: History and Memories

Series I: Folders in the “Playbills” series contain one or two playbills for each play. Inserts are found inside some of the playbills. They are arranged chronologically by play.

Series II: Folders in the “Production and Publicity” series contain information and documentation regarding the production aspects of the shows. Folder 17, "Production Notes," includes cast lists, ad proofs, scenery designs, properties lists, and advertisements for some shows. It also includes costume rental materials, photo order forms, T-shirt order forms, cast party flyers, and a draft of the musical melange, Broadway on Front Street. Other folders contain mail-outs to HCLO members that advertise upcoming shows and allow them to order tickets early; party invitations and notices of other activities associated with different plays; and news articles and other publicity materials regarding various HCLO productions.

Series III: This series is comprised of materials that relate to the business activities of the HCLO. It contains folders that relate to the Board of Directors, the structure of the HCLO, and fiscal matters regarding the organization. Included are copies of the HCLO bylaws; materials that state the role and activities connected with each job within the organization; a flow chart that illustrates the chain of command for HCLO; minutes; notes from board meetings; correspondence; and financial documents.

Series IV: The series, “History and Memories,” is composed of articles, newspaper clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, and items of memorabilia that document the history of the HCLO. Included are a write up of the HCLO’s history; a list of all the plays that HCLO has presented over the years and separate cast lists for each show; materials documenting the past presidents of the HCLO; and a paper on the renovation of the Saenger Theatre titled “Transformation of the Saenger Theatre from a Movie House to a Theatre of Cultural Arts”, by Wendy Obstler. Also worthy of note is a folder titled “Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts”, which contains information regarding the selection of Mrs. Martha Tatum as a recipient of that award in 2001. Scrapbooks in Series IV contain photographs and newspaper clippings from some of the shows that HCLO has produced. Among them are Annie Get Your Gun, She Loves Me!, Oklahoma!, The Wizard of Oz, The Barber of Seville, South Pacific, The King and I, Brigadoon, and Fiddler on the Roof. HCLO memorabilia in this series includes a red West Side Story T-shirt, HCLO posters advertising various productions, a metal key ring from Carousel, and the paw print of the dog that played "Sandy" in the 1983 production of Annie.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were generated by the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera and were donated to USM Archives by Tim Breland, Jacque Purdy James, Fritzie Schurb, Garland Sullivan, and Martha Tatum between 1997 and 2004.

Related Materials

M331 Hattiesburg Little Theatre Collection, 1975-1977

Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001