The Muny’s Next Stage
The first day of 2022 will usher in a new era of leadership at The Muny, St. Louis’ beloved outdoor theater in Forest Park. Kwofe Coleman, who has worked at the attraction for more than two decades, will take over as president and chief executive officer Jan. 1. He succeeds Denny Reagan, who has been involved with the theater for 53 years.
It would have been hard to find a new leader more familiar with The Muny’s inner workings. Coleman was hired in 1998 as an usher, and since then, he has filled roles in accounting, development, marketing, communications and more. He currently serves as managing director and says he is excited to raise the curtain on The Muny’s 2021 season.
“My career has been an exciting journey so far, and I’m looking forward to the future,” Coleman says. “I’ve been working closely with Denny to get a leadership view of the business from his perspective. This job is about giving the great people who work at The Muny the tools and latitude to do what they are excellent at, and I feel very comfortable about leading that effort.”
Coleman, a native of Bellefontaine Neighbors, attended Saint Louis University High School and Emory University. He is a recipient of the St. Louis Business Journal 40 Under 40 award and The St. Louis American’s Salute to Young Leaders Award. “I live in the Central West End, and I love that there is a view of the theater from my apartment,” he says. “I’m so close, I can see when the outdoor fans turn on.”
He considers his work at The Muny a true vocation and a key part of his commitment to his home city. “I really love St. Louis,” he says. “It’s important to me to make sure the institution, its audiences and its art reflect the community it serves. For more than a century, we have evolved along with the city, and I want that to continue. The Muny is at the heart of St. Louis and is welcoming to all.”
Coleman says he will accomplish his goals as president and CEO by continuing to make theater accessible to every segment of the population, especially young people—and he has Reagan and many others to thank for helping him create a foundation for success. “We transitioned our educational programs to an online format last year, and it has worked well,” he notes. “Of course, we are looking forward to getting back on stage and returning to schools when it’s safe. But in the meantime, we are gratified to see that the virtual programs made theater arts accessible to more students than ever. The programs allow us to reach people from across the country and the region, including those who aren’t able to come out for a show.”
The Muny’s 103rd season kicks off July 26 and features five productions at 60% audience capacity: Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, On Your Feet and Chicago. Coleman says the lineup promises to be exciting, and he is confident people will embrace a return to their seats under the stars. “I admire St. Louisans’ strong support for the arts,” he says. “This is a big city that shows a lot of small-town love.”
For updates on the 2021 season, call 314.361.1900 or visit muny.org.
Photo: Phillip Hamer