Jonathan Thomas has been named Managing Director;

Heidi Van is serving as Interim Producing Artistic Director


Kansas City, MO – The Board of Directors of The Coterie Theatre is pleased to announce the appointments of Jonathan Thomas as the theatre for young audiences’ managing director and Heidi Van as interim producing artistic director. Thomas, who joined The Coterie in April 2022 as director of development, has served as interim managing director since November 2022, following the passing of longtime Coterie executive director Joette Pelster. Van joined The Coterie in February following the resignation of artistic director Jeff Church in December 2022 and will remain an interim leader at The Coterie until the Board completes its search process.

“Jonathan has proven to be the right leader at a critical time for The Coterie Theatre,” said Theresa Stoker, President of The Coterie’s Board of Directors. “He has demonstrated empathy and compassion for our grieving Coterie community while thoughtfully guiding our organization through a significant time of transition. He has earned the trust and respect of our Board, staff and broader arts community and we are enthusiastic about his plans to further enhance our culture at The Coterie.”

Thomas, a native Kansas Citian, has spent the majority of his career in the arts community. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he started out as a professional singer, having performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Chorale and Kansas City Symphony, among others. His career transitioned into arts administration and Thomas went on to lead development efforts for The Walden School in San Francisco, ArtsKC, the Lyric Opera and The Coterie Theatre.

“Fully committing to our mission of opening the lines of communication between races, genders and generations by redefining theatre for young people to include families and diverse audiences means fully committing to a more transparent and collegial internal environment,” said Thomas. “I am honored by the trust the Board has placed in me and am committed to working toward enhancing the culture of the organization so that each individual feels that their voice is heard.”

Heidi Van is a longtime Kansas City actor, creator and producer of live theater. She has long held a soft spot for The Coterie, as it launched her career 20 years ago.

“I believe The Coterie should be the number one theatre for young audiences in the nation,” said Van. “The actors, designers and production staff who literally embody the work and mission of The Coterie are important stakeholders in the organization and I am committed to demonstrating a mutual respect and understanding for all who come through our doors. I pledge to lead in alignment with The Coterie’s values: using our voices, leading with love, and confronting injustice through storytelling and imagination.”

Added Thomas, “We have the opportunity to demonstrate positive change in our industry by lifting up every person at The Coterie at every level of our organization. We look forward to working toward that goal.”


The Coterie Theatre was designated by TIME magazine among the top three theaters for young audiences in Nov. 2004, calling it “groundbreaking… one of the nation’s most respected.” As a not-for-profit professional company founded in 1979 in Kansas City, Missouri, The Coterie has been at the forefront of commissioning new works or adaptations that contribute to the field of theatre for young audiences. More than 50 world or American premieres for all ages have been produced by The Coterie over the last 43 years, including hosting multiple major Broadway composers and lyricists to shape quality musicals for youth and families. The Coterie is interested in intergenerational conversation, and consistently includes teen programming in its season and outreach efforts. The Coterie’s community programming redefines traditional notions of work for young audiences with its unique dramatic writing programs (Young Playwrights’ Roundtable), teen LGBTQ work (Project Pride), and mental health workshops in a dramatic format (Project Daylight), all free of charge. All these components serve an average of 97,000 per year through over 350 performances. The Coterie Theatre School has locations throughout greater Kansas City. Donate at www.thecoterie.org.


The Coterie is funded, in part, by Missouri Arts Council, The Shubert Foundation, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation, and Theater League.