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Local theater celebrates 80th season

The Schenectady Light Opera Company is celebrating its 80th season with a birthday concert this weekend.

The show features the best of Schenectady Light Opera's past musical numbers and cast members of all ages. In addition to the performances, members of the company will share some stories and special memories with the audience.

Many of the show's performers have been involved with Schenectady Light Opera for more than 20 years, and a lot of cast members say they met their significant others through their involvement with the company.

Allan Foster, the producer of this weekend's concert, has been with Schenectady Light Opera for 50 years. He moved to Schenectady from Connecticut, and said he's met all of his close friends through the theater.

It was one of the first things I saw when I came here, Foster said. "I didn't even know how to spell Schenectady, but the theater became like an obsession for me."

Bill Hickman said his first SLOC production was in the '60s.

"I'm one of the more senior members," he said. "I've been around for more than half of the company's history."

Hickman said he met his wife through the company, and so did Bob Farquharsom of Colonie, who said he has been involved with SLOC for 32 years.

SLOC has played an important role in Schenectady's history and culture. The company began in 1926 as the Bellevue Young People's Chorus, and changed its name to its current moniker in 1936.

Before making the Opera House at 826 State Street its permanent home, SLOC performed at various local venues, including Burnt Hills High School, Niskayuna High School and Proctor's Theater.

In the beginning, SLOC did light operatic productions, but it has transitioned into musical theater over the years.

"The name has lived on, but when people hear light opera, they think opera, but isn't not," said Orlando Pigliavento, the show's director and a longtime veteran of SLOC.

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