Seattle's churning theater scene has managed to find a new managing director for ACT Theatre, the respected veteran Kevin Hughes, and now comes the search for an executive director to replace Laura Penn at Intiman. Given the delicate finances of our theaters, a lot rides on these decisions. ACT stumbled badly in the initial phase of replacing Susan Trapnell, and then recovered. But these theaters don't have a lot of room for miscues. Penn will be leaving at the end of March to take up a new job in New York, as head of the national union that represents theater directors and dance choreographers. She's been in the Seattle theater scene for 23 years, initially at Seattle Rep and then driving the rise of Intiman and its many, deep connections with the community. She wasn't looking for another job, but then the call came, with its chance to work in New York. Former Rep artistic director Sharon Ott was on the search committee, as were others the very-well-networked Penn knew. The timing could be better. Bartlett Sher to renew his contract, which expires at the end of 2008. Sher is a very hot director, on stage and for opera, who could write his ticket at many other theaters. The key, explains Penn, is to stabilize finances, manage the transition well, and make a good match with the new managing director. The search firm, Management Consultants for the Arts, which matched Sher and Penn, is heading the headhunting for Penn's replacement. Intiman will announce its interim managing director in a week or so, and this person (said to be a very experienced Seattle theater figure) will be able to work alongside Penn for the next few months. That should double the firepower in the critical period of the fund drive. No word yet whether Intiman will want to continue Penn's passion for linking the company to many community organizations, but that seems pretty built into the DNA of this theater. The other trademark: giving the artistic director lots of room to direct plays, develop new works (many bound for New York), and forge a distinctive directorial personality.