Lou Spisto to depart Old Globe to be independent stage producer


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The board president of the Old Globe in San Diego applauded the record of Lou Spisto, the executive producer and chief executive officer who announced Monday he is leaving the nationally recognized theater to be an independent producer.

Harold W. Fuson Jr. described the company as being in excellent financial health, with an annual budget of $20 million, up from $12 million when Spisto joined the Old Globe nine years ago. He said the board had a good relationship with Spisto.


In a phone interview, Spisto said of his departure: ‘It was my decision.’

‘I’ve been talking to the board about it for a couple of months,’ Spisto said. ‘I’ve had over the past several years some projects that I’ve worked on outside the Globe. There was one that I gave up a year and a half ago, an independent project that I had rights to. And I’ve had mixed emotions about it since then.’

Michael G. Murphy, the company’s general manager, will serve as the company’s interim head following Spisto’s departure at the end of December.

The announcement of Spisto’s resignation coincides with the company’s tumultuous revival of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ that saw the abrupt departures of its lead actor and director before opening night. But Spisto said his decision to leave has nothing to do with ‘Rocky Horror.’

Spisto was appointed executive director of the Old Globe in October 2002 and assumed the position of executive producer in January 2008. During his tenure, he oversaw a number of high-profile productions as well as the annual summer Shakespeare Festival.

If Spisto saw the Old Globe regain its financial footing during his tenure, artistically it was not as well received. In addition, Jack O'Brien announced in 2007 that he was stepping down after 26 years as artistic director. Just a few months later, Jerry Patch, the company’s co-artistic director, also announced that he was leaving.

Prior to coming to San Diego, Spisto served as the executive director of the American Ballet Theatre in New York. His time at ABT was reportedly a bumpy period, with a number of resignations. Spisto quit the company after just two years.

Spisto also held leadership posts with the Pacific Symphony in Orange County and the Detroit Symphony.


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-- David Ng