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Kwofe Coleman will succeed Dennis Reagan as Muny president and CEO
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Kwofe Coleman will succeed Dennis Reagan as Muny president and CEO

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2018 marks Reagan's 50th year at the Muny

From left: Muny artistic director and executive producer Mike Isaacson, president and CEO Dennis Reagan and managing director Kwofe Coleman laugh before "A Chorus Line" on July 26, 2017. 

Kwofe Coleman will be the next president and CEO of the Muny, the outdoor theater in Forest Park has announced. The appointment is effective Jan. 1.

Coleman, 38, has been managing director of the organization since 2018. A longtime Muny employee, he brings a thorough familiarity with the organization to his new position.

Kwofe Coleman will succeed Dennis Reagan, who is retiring as president and CEO of the Muny. Theater critic Calvin Wilson talks with Coleman about his history with the Forest Park theater. "When you come in after a legend, you have to pave your own way," Coleman says. 

“I’ve been at the Muny for 22 years, in some capacity,” Coleman said. “So in some sense, I think I might have had the longest interview possible.”

Coleman will succeed Dennis Reagan, who plans to retire in December after 30 years at the helm. In a statement, Reagan said that Coleman “is a remarkably gifted leader who understands the institution at its core, and more importantly, its commitment to the St. Louis community.”

Reagan, who has been associated with the Muny in some capacity for more than 50 years, added that Coleman will ensure that “the Muny’s future remains bright while offering a new perspective on how to lead our beloved theater into its next century. Without question, he is the perfect choice.”

The nation’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater, the Muny presents seven musicals each summer. For the first time in its history, the organization was forced to postpone its full season last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Digital offerings, including a popular weekly variety show, were presented instead.

The 103rd season, with dates shifted about a month later than usual, is scheduled to begin July 5 with “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

If current CDC and health department guidelines remain in May, the Muny's summer season could be socially distant and reduced-capacity, managing director Kwofe Coleman says. The season is scheduled to open July 5 with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." The outdoor theater in Forest Park usually seats about 11,000 patrons.

“The first job I ever had at the Muny was as an usher, when I was 16,” Coleman said. In 2008, he joined the organization full time as a staff accountant.

A native of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Coleman is a graduate of St. Louis University High and Emory University, where he earned a B.A. in English. Among other previous positions with the Muny, he has served as digital communications manager and director of marketing and communications. He is president-elect of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

Coleman played key roles in creating both the Muny’s Second Century Strategic Plan and its $100 Million Second Century Capital Campaign. The position of president and CEO, he said, is “something that I watched my predecessor do really well.”

“It’s overseeing the company, essentially,” Coleman said. “It’s not a small task to take on, running an institution of this size, and with this history, and to have this kind of relationship with the city. So a lot of it is making sure that we continue to fulfill our promise to the community — to create an accessible environment and present the best musical theater and to represent St. Louis on a national scale.”

Among the Muny shows he’s enjoyed over the years was the 2006 production of “Aida” starring Simone and Ken Page.

“I just remember it as a show that definitely stopped me in my tracks,” Coleman said. “At that point, I was a wheelchair pusher, and I remember just stopping to appreciate not just what it was for the community and the audience, but purely the art that was onstage as well.”

Reagan’s retirement won’t end his relationship with the Muny. Beginning in January, he will assume a new role as senior adviser.

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