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The Old Globe Theatre just announced that its CEO/Executive producer, Louis Spisto, will step down at the end of this year. He has been with the company since 2002 and plans to work on independent projects.

Michael G. Murphy, Old Globe general manager since 2003, will serve as interim CEO while the theater conducts the search for a replacement.

Spisto has worn two hats. When he took over as executive director, the Globe was in financial straits. Since 2003, says Board Chair Harold W. Fuson, Jr., "we've had balanced budgets every year." Under Spisto's guidance, the budget grew from $12 million to $20 million annually.

As of 2008, when artistic director Jack O'Brien left the Globe, Spisto, Darko Tresnjak, and Jerry Parch formed a triumvirate: all three sharing artistic decisions and duties. When Patch and Tresnjak left, Spisto became both artistic and business director - positions rarely combined in regional theaters.

One of his best moves: Spisto hired Adrian Noble, formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company, to head the Globe's Summer Shakespeare Festival. The results, in the last two years, have been impressive.

The Globe's play selection since 2008, however, has been spotty. The theater has produced critical and popular successes - Tracey Lett's August: Osage County and the Noble-directed Tempest could be finalists for this year's Craig Noel Award. At the same time, many projects came to the theater under-prepared, and left the same way.

Where Spisto has left an indelible mark: he oversaw the Globe's $75 million "Capital Campaign," which led to the creation of the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, including the Karen and Donald Cohen Educational Center, Hattox Hall, and the splendid Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Each is a lasting gift.

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