Managing Director Cat Meilus is off on a new adventure! Read her letter below, and stop by this August to say “farewell” in person.
When I first applied to work at Puppet Showplace Theater, I had no idea that puppetry would have such an impact on my personal and professional life. I joined the theater in 2012 after working for many years as a freelance stage manager, including a backstage gig on a puppet-filled production of Avenue Q. My starting position at Puppet Showplace was as a Box Office Associate, where I directly helped thousands of people experience joyful, transformative puppetry productions every year. From there, I became the Audience Services Manager, and finally, the theater’s Managing Director, a position I have happily held for the last four years.
In this role, I have been proud to lead our team towards several major administrative accomplishments that I would not have thought possible when I first walked through these doors. While I had no formal training in fundraising, I worked with our staff and board to research and identify new grantors, create a clear planning calendar, and hone our proposal writing process. In four years, we have more than doubled our grant revenue. This included a major Cultural Facilities Fund grant through the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which awarded us the funds needed to upgrade our air conditioning systems. I hope you think of me on a hot summer day as you cool off in our theater and lobby!
I am also incredibly proud of my work with our HR committee to create the theater’s parental leave policy. While Puppet Showplace has always been deeply dedicated to the families in our audience, we lacked a clear road map for conferring benefits to our staff. As the first full time staff member at Puppet Showplace to become a parent while employed here, it was important to me that I use my personal experience to advocate for a policy that went beyond minimum legal requirements and honored our values by supporting families both on and off stage.
Beyond my professional accomplishments at Puppet Showplace, one of the things I have always loved about this theater is that I can share it with every single member of my family. Mainstage performances have provided fun weekend outings for me and my sister to share together with our children. My mother has become a huge Puppet Slam fan, hardly missing a single one in years. Puppets at Night shows have been memorable date nights for me and my husband. But, nothing has been as special as watching my daughter, Reilly, grow up with me here at Puppet Showplace. As a regular Puppet Playtime attendee practically from birth, Reilly feels completely at home here at the theater and has grown to be a model audience member for the “big kid” Mainstage shows. She creates puppets out of nearly anything she can get her hands on, and loves getting the newest Puppet Showplace postcard in the mail so she can pick our next show or find her puppeteer friends’ pictures. Watching her experience the sheer magic of a puppet show has been one of my greatest parenting joys.
With my family welcoming our second child in September, I am looking forward to channeling the important work I’ve done here for the last seven years into raising the next generation of Puppet Showplace fans. I know I will still find myself here often, sharing puppetry with my entire family and working hard to spread the word about this incredible creative community.
While I am sad to be leaving the theater and the staff members, artists, and audiences whom I have grown to love so deeply, I am excited to welcome Daniel DeLoma, our new Managing Director, to the team. I know he will lead the theater with the same enthusiasm, integrity, and passion I have had, while bringing his own vision, energy, and style to the organization. Daniel will be training with us for the month of August to get to know our operations before my departure, so stay tuned for more updates from him later this summer!
My last day at Puppet Showplace will be August 31st. I invite you to come by this month to say farewell, share a memory or two, and catch a performance.
Thank you for making me a part of the Puppet Showplace family!