TUTS Leading Ladies Luncheon Honors Cissy Segall Davis And Raised Over $100,000 

The Sold-Out Soiree Celebrated Houston’s Vibrant Arts Community

Theatre Under The Stars hosted the Leading Ladies Luncheon on April 22 at Houston’s renowned Tony’s on Richmond Ave. The event honored Cissy Segall Davis with the Shirley Stein Outstanding Champion in the Arts and Education Award for her extensive work in the arts community in Houston.

“Cissy has been a champion for and has helped shape many Houston arts institutions, including TUTS,” said Hillary Hart, TUTS Executive Director. “We are delighted to honor her passionate work in the Houston arts community.”

The sold-out luncheon raised over $100,000 benefiting barrier-breaking programming at TUTS, the most ever raised for this event. During the program, awards for Arts Educator of the Year and Volunteer of the Year were also given to Melanie Bivens and Dawn Neal respectively.

The luncheon was emceed by Christina Wells and featured performances from the upcoming TUTS Musical Theatre Academy production of Into The Woods from student performers Mabyn Coleman and Haley Griffin. Along with the entertainment and awards ceremony, the event featured a silent auction and champagne raffle for a beautiful necklace from J. Landa. The 2021 Leading Ladies Luncheon was chaired by June Deadrick and honorary chairs, Council Member Sallie Alcorn and Dr. Teddy McDavid.

“I am ecstatic to celebrate one of the strongest supporters of the performing arts in our community – Cissy Segall Davis – and our two community awardees,” said June Deadrick, chair of the event. “It’s been an honor to chair this event, which raises money to help provide opportunities for young people in our community to experience, as well as train in, musical theater with Theatre Under The Stars, an organization which I’m proud to support!”.

Notable attendees included: Sofia AdrogueElaine Balagia CroucherKristen CannonThuyLan ChangGrace GivensLeisa Holland Nelson BowmanDemetra JonesDr. Sippi KhuranaRobin KlaesConnie Kwan-WongJay LandaSneha MerchantMiriam MeyersAmy PierceKristina SomervilleBrad and Robin SteinThe Honorable Kristi Thibaut, and Ileana Treviño.

TUTS Leading Ladies are a dynamic group of women with a shared passion for musical theatre. They are committed to Theatre Under The Stars Education and Community Engagement efforts through volunteering, fundraising and hosting exclusive events for Houston’s most ardent performing arts advocates.


Cissy Segall Davis has shaped the arts in Houston for the past 50 years. She is Managing Director of the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, providing free artistically excellent and culturally diverse entertainment eight months a year. Under her guidance, the series has grown into the largest program of its kind in the U.S. Through service on the Board of Directors and as Managing Director in the 1980s and 1990s, she also shaped the future of Theatre Under The Stars. Cissy is on the Board of Directors of Texans for the Arts and was named as one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women by Houston Woman’s Magazine in 2012.

Melanie Bivens is an active educator and music director throughout the Houston-area and world-wide, including International Leadership of Texas, Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, Houston Mass Choir, The Ensemble Theatre, Stages, Kinder HSPVA, and more. She is known for her dynamic music workshops as she inspires musicians, singers, and church leaders to pursue their passions. In 2021, she was honored with the Communication Excellence Award from the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing.

Dawn Neal is a chemical engineer dedicated to volunteering and participating in the arts. She is a founder and supporting partner of The JETPAC, which is a performing arts studio in the Clear Lake area, where she serves as production manager for all of the musicals and various other performances. Dawn is also a Leading Lady and enjoys participating and volunteering in TUTS outreach programs, including volunteering with The River with her daughter Riley, a student at HSMT.

THEATRE UNDER THE STARS (“TUTS”) – (Dan KnechtgesArtistic DirectorHillary J HartExecutive Director) – Founded by Frank M. Young in 1968, Houston’s non-profit home for musical theatre, is dedicated to enriching lives through innovative musical theatre, inclusive educational curriculums and dynamic community engagement. For more information, visit tuts.com.