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Thoughts from the Publisher: Gigi Fusco Meese

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neena-thoughts.jpgBy Neena Strichart

As is true for many of my peers, my initial exposure to live theatre was at the Long Beach Playhouse (LBPH). Through the years I have seen dozens of plays at that lovely venue including some fabulous musicals. Although I have enjoyed all I have seen, musical or not, my favorite remains to be Earnest in Love–an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” I saw that play three times during its run and still quote the line “a handbag is not a proper Mother” to the confusion of those I am conversing with at the time.
I love the Playhouse, and, during the last eight years, I have had the honor of working with their executive director, Gigi Fusco Meese, for press releases, review tickets and ad copy. She is a gem. Apparently others feel that way too. I witnessed a two-hour Gigi love-a-thon last Saturday as friends, family co-workers and other admirers gathered for Gigi’s farewell performance as LBPH’s head honcho.
After eight years (as long as I’ve owned the Signal Tribune) Gigi is moving on to share her talents with Musical Theatre West. (See details on page 15)
Gigi’s going-away party was a surprise of sorts. She knew something was up–but had no idea what elaborateness her send-off would entail. An unsuspecting Gigi came in the back door of the Playhouse and was quickly escorted on to the mainstage where she was dressed in a cape and tiara. She gleefully greeted her audience of well-wishers as director Michael Ross and marketing committee chair Cort Huckabone paraded her around the stage. Once seated on her makeshift throne, Gigi listened to an hour and a half of accolades from co-workers, dignitaries and family members. Board of trustee member Lucy Daggett delivered a kudos-filled address. “[Gigi has] overseen the theatre that never sleeps,” said Daggett, “[and] she has done it all with great style and grace.” Agreeing with the sentiment, Long Beach 4th District Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell referred to Gigi as a “class act” as he presented her with a framed proclamation from his office. Other presentations were made from Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s office as well as from 3rd district council member Gary DeLong.
Speakers referred to Gigi’s new boss at the Musical Theatre West, Paul Garman, more than once as Paul “the poacher.” Keeping his sense of humor, Paul publicly welcomed his new employee into the fold and thanked the playhouse for their cooperation and recent collaboration efforts.
The afternoon was completed with emotional words spoken by Gigi. “It’s been my honor to serve the playhouse; you will always be a big part of me,” she said through tears. “I’m so overwhelmed–I’m going to miss you so much.”
Oh, Gigi, we’ll miss you too–but we’ve got your number at MTW!

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Thoughts from the Publisher: Gigi Fusco Meese