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To pee or not to pee: Ginny Mancini hosts a party to christen the potty (a big fancy lounge at the Broad Stage, that is)

February 22, 2010 |  5:22 pm
Ladies-rm-3 OK, ladies, three cheers -- make that four -- for Ginny Mancini.

If you're a female theatergoer and you have a bladder, you should consider her your guardian angel.

Like you, the arts philanthropist and widow of film composer Henry Mancini has had it with those endless ladies' room lines at intermission. Unlike you, she's in a position to do something about it.

Mancini endowed a fabulous new women's lounge at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica for $100,000, and on Saturday, she threw a coming-out party in the space, to celebrate the space. (Note: Dustin Hoffman didn't quite have the square footage to host such a soiree in the backstage artists' bathroom that bears his name.)

Have you ever been served teriyaki beef outside the women's stalls? Yum. 

Now, this isn't any ordinary ladies' room. Outside the stalls (and there are a line-busting 14) is a lush lounge that's more than 300 square feet -- about the size of a New York studio apartment. It's filled with sleek gray furniture, a flat-screen, and art curated by La Mancini -- girly paintings by L.A. artist Susie McKay Krieser and a cool paper bag dress created by a Florida high school senior, which dangles from the ceiling. The place is so alluring that men peek in at intermission; the theater has even held meetings there.

[For the record, March 3, 2010: A previous version of this post misspelled artist Susie McKay Krieser's name as Kneiser.]

Ladies-rm-1 As major donors of both genders and jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour sipped and snacked before his performance, Mancini talked about the woes of being a woman in a theater who has to, shall we say, go -- but not leave.

"Broadway is terrible," said the arts maven, who also put her name on a spiffy ladies' room at the Geffen Playhouse a couple of years ago. "I run across the street to a hotel at intermission. Women are dressed differently from men, and it's difficult for us to do what we need to do, so here we are."

And the show must go on.

"Lemme tell you that when Frank Gehry first sat around the board meeting at the L.A. Philharmonic, and he hadn't been given the go-ahead yet, I raised my hand and said, 'Do you promise to have enough places for ladies to go without getting crazy?' He did."

And not a second too soon.

"I've been in the Walt Disney Concert Hall when I had to pee so bad, I prayed for the piece to end and prayed that I could get there in time."

While you're blessing Mancini, you can also give Broad Stage director Dale Franzen a pat on the back. She fought for the groovy ladies' room as well as an artist's bathroom next to the stage, which is now named for her and the facility's six-figure benefactor, Hoffman, who's chairman of the Broad Stage Artistic Advisory Board.

"I must have been at eight meetings where they were going to cut the ladies' lounge, and we were like, 'You're not cutting the ladies' lounge. Are you joking?' " she said. "That's why we have the greatest ladies' lounge in the world."

-- Irene Lacher

Photo: Ginny Mancini, top left, Lee Ritenour and Monica Mancini enjoy the pre-concert launch of the new ladies' lounge at the Broad Stage on Saturday. And gentlemen, did you ever wonder why women take so long to go? Don't believe "long lines" stories -- we've actually got secret cocktail bars hidden away in there! Sans Mr. Ritenour, the Mancini women enjoy the perks of the secret sisterhood. Credit: From the Broad Stage.

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