Beloved Houston arts figure Cissy Segall Davis, managing director of Miller Outdoor Theatre, will retire at the end of the theater's 100th anniversary season, the organization announced. Segall Davis has helmed the cherished organization for the last 14 years.
Her retirement was announced at a June 6 gathering of arts leaders and Miller Outdoor Theatre Advisory Board (MTAB) members. MTAB oversees the theater and its chairman, Romulo Tim Cisneros, broke the news at the gathering.
"For nearly 15 years, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to follow my personal passion every day," Segall Davis tells CultureMap. "Sharing my love of the performing and cultural arts with millions of Houstonians and visitors has been the thrill of a lifetime. I am a very lucky woman."
A pioneer in Houston arts, media, and events, Segall Davis took on Miller Outdoor Theatre's managing director position in 2008, the culmination of a career that began in 1972 and has included the management, production, and promotion of theatrical, entertainment, and special event industries.
One of her first jobs was in concert promotion, and over the decades, she amassed a deep knowledge of promotions, public relations, management, and arts administration. Long a lover of theater and the performing arts, she's often called her position at the theater a dream job.
"This really was a dream come true for me,” said Segall Davis, in press materials announcing her retirement. “Miller Outdoor Theatre has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. First as a camp counselor gleefully leading kids up and down the famous Miller hill singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” then professionally during my 20 years with Theatre Under Theatre Stars, later as a client when I ran my own PR firm and now of course as its managing director."
Under her leadership of Miller's day-to-day operations across the last nearly 15 years, Segall Davis oversaw a grants program for Houston performing arts and community organizations.
She also created and oversaw an annual season of more than 120 artistically and culturally diverse performances, all presented free of charge to the public. Segall's support of the arts and dedication to Miller helped build the theater's series, which runs from March to October, into the largest program of its kind in the U.S.
“It is not easy to walk away from a job that has been career-defining and one that I have absolutely loved and that has provided me the opportunity to follow my passion every day," she added. "But, knowing when to exit is part of show business. It’s time to pass the torch and offer someone else the chance to bring a new perspective and make an impact on this program. Miller Outdoor Theatre is one of Houston’s best amenities…it is beloved and treasured. It has been an honor to work with the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, our staff, the many performing arts, and cultural organizations that perform here, and the remarkable Miller crew for so many years.”
Entertainment legend Rita Moreno will headline MOT's annual gala honoring Segall Davis this year.Photo courtesy of Miller Outdoor Theatre
Another big announcement was made at the same gathering where the news of Segall Davis' retirement was shared. The 16th annual gala for Miller Outdoor Theatre will be held on November 16 and fittingly, will honor Segall Davis.
The event, chaired by June Deadrick, Robin and Danny Klaes, and Christine and David Underwood, Jr., will also feature special guest and Broadway and Hollywood legend Rita Moreno. The actress and activist is one of 18 people to hold EGOT status — winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards for her work.
Funds from the gala will contribute to the theater's $12.5 million capital campaign.