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Cleveland Play House Managing Director steps down

Collette A. Laisure
McKinley Wiley
Cleveland Play House
Collette Laisure was appointed interim managing director in February 2021.

Cleveland Play House is adding managing director to its slate of open leadership positions.

Collette A. Laisure is stepping down after 20 months in the role. She succeeded longtime CPH Managing Director Kevin Moore, who passed away suddenly in October 2020.

Laisure joined CPH as interim managing director in February 2021, and she took the job permanently that fall after a search was placed on hold. She was previously director of the city of Cleveland's office of equal opportunity. Then-CPH Board Chair Anne Marie Warren touted Laisure’s decade of service to area theaters and “deep connections to the Fairfax neighborhood” upon the appointment. She was the first woman and first person of color to hold the position in CPH’s 107-year history.

CPH Board Chair Michael J. Meehan expressed gratitude through a statement issued Friday for Laisure's “guidance, advocacy and insight [which] helped navigate the challenges we faced during the COVID pandemic and venue shutdowns."

The news comes just weeks before CPH is expected to announce a new artistic director to succeed Laura Kepley, who stepped down in June after 12 years and did not speak publicly about her departure. Mark Cuddy has been serving as interim artistic director. A Boston native, he previously spent 27 years leading Rochester’s Geva Theatre Center.

New York-based Management Consultants for the Arts is conducting the searches for both managing director and artistic director.

This weekend concludes the run of CPH's "American Mariachi" about a Mexican-American family soothing a dying relative with music. The play is directed by Henry Godinez, who said it’s been a pleasure working with Cuddy.

“I was a big fan of Laura Kepley's,” he said. “I think she is a brilliant artistic leader and brilliant director. And I feel the exact same way about Mark.” Cuddy is not seeking the permanent artistic director position.

On October 12, Obie Award-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's dark comedy "Everybody" opens as part of CPH's partnership with Case Western Reserve University's MFA Acting Program. The Pulitzer-Prize finalist examines the inevitability of death and the meaning of life. It runs through Oct. 22.

"The Great Leap,” Lauren Yee's darkly comic sports drama about an American college basketball team visiting Beijing for a "friendship game" and "Light It Up," a musical-variety show by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson follow later this season.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.