Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre Announces Khalia Davis as New Producing Artistic Director


The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City officially has new artistic leadership.

On Wednesday, the acclaimed children’s theater announced that Khalia Davis will be stepping into the role of Producing Artistic Director.

Khalia Davis

Davis inherits the role from interim artistic director Heidi Van, who has led artistic programming since February of 2023 following the resignation and sudden death of Jeff Church in December of 2022.

Davis will work alongside Managing Director Jonathan Thomas, who joined The Coterie in April 2022 as director of development and served as interim managing director since November 2022 before being permanently appointed to the role following the passing of longtime Coterie executive director Joette Pelster.

The theater called Davis a multidisciplinary artist and arts leader in a press release announcing her appointment. She most recently served as the Assistant Director for the Broadway-bound world premiere of The Hippest Trip: The Soul Train Musical.

“From our first introduction to Khalia to the everyday interactions, her energy and passion for theatre for young audiences is palpable,” President of The Coterie’s Board of Director Theresa Stoker said. “We know she will continue to do exciting and innovative work in the field of theatre for young audiences and we are thrilled to have her co-leading The Coterie.

She also comes to Kansas City as the former Artistic Director of the Bay Area Children’s Theatre in Oakland, California. She led the world premieres of a kids play about Racism, which brought together over 40 theater producing partners, including The Coterie, and was viewed on Broadway on Demand nearly 80,000 times during its limited run.

“While I am not from Kansas City originally, witnessing the way the arts community here supports and uplifts one another is reminiscent of living and working professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area theater community,” Davis said in the theater’s press release. “I look forward to working with new colleagues across the arts industry here and working alongside managing director, Jonathan Thomas, to bring more exciting, engaging, and educational arts programming to the families and young people of Kansas City and beyond!”

Davis will look to begin a new era for the beloved children’s theater, which touts being named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences” in the U.S. by TIME magazine.

The Coterie offers acting and theatre classes year-round for PreK-12th grades at multiple locations around Kansas City. The not-for-profit theater company also serves an average audience of 75,000 annually across 350 performances.

Assault and abuse allegations were made public against former longtime Artistic Director Jeff Church in a story by the Kansas City Pitch. Additional unconfirmed claims and accounts of abuse began circulating on social media following the story’s publication.

Read the full article from KMBC by Connor Hills here.