Incorporated in 1979

A Brief History

Judith Yeckel and Vicky Lee (pictured), two graduate students in theatre from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), founded The Coterie in 1979. The theatre is located on Level 1 of the Crown Center shops in the Hallmark complex. In its first 40 years, The Coterie has given over 13,000 performances of 285 productions on its mainstage, playing to approximately 2.2 million people. In 2017, The Coterie celebrated the milestone of serving over 100,000 students and families in a single season with its mainstage productions, acting classes, in-school workshops, and community outreach programs.


The Coterie Today

The Coterie, a professional Equity theatre, is among the top five theatres serving families and young audiences in the United States, according to TIME magazine: “groundbreaking…one of the nation’s most respected.”  Travel+Leisure magazine’s top ten list of children’s theatres described The Coterie as “a theatre that resolutely refuses to talk down to its audience.” The mainstage season consists of six full productions: three for older students (junior high and high school) and adults, and three for younger audiences and families. The emphasis is often on new or recent works.

Through ingenious programming, The Coterie plays a vital role in the greater Kansas City area developing new generations of audiences for the performing arts with plays that reach a variety of age groups. In its first 40 years, The Coterie has given over 13,000 performances of 285 productions on its mainstage, playing to approximately 2.2 million people. In 2017, The Coterie celebrated the milestone of serving over 100,000 students and families in a single season with its mainstage productions, acting classes, in-school workshops, and community outreach programs.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, The Coterie began creating, developing, and producing new works of theatre for young audiences. This included the world premiere productions of Sheldon Harnick’s Dragons and Edward Mast’s Wolf Child: The Correction of Joseph, as well as The Very First FamilyAcross the PlainsNate the GreatGatherings in GraveyardsOz, and numerous premieres from the Little House series. Further, The Coterie mounted the professional American premiere of Lord of the Flies in its Great Books/Banned Books season, and the first staging of the opera Green Eggs and Ham, after its concert premiere. Regional premieres have included Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! and Valley Song. In 1995, The Coterie was awarded the prestigious Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award for its world premiere of Alicia in Wonder Tierra, a successful production involving actors in the Latino community.

In 1999, The Coterie’s world premiere commission of The Wrestling Season by Laurie Brooks went on to be produced around the country after it transferred to Kennedy Center for New Visions 2000: One Theatre World. The play received additional nationwide exposure when it was published in its entirety in American Theatre Magazine (November, 2000).  Brooks has often served as playwright-in-residence at The Coterie and has premiered a number of her works here, including her original script, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, as well as her stage adaptations of Andrew Clements’ No Talking and Terry Brooks’ The Secret of Courage.

Several of The Coterie’s premieres were developed at the Kennedy Center’s New Vision/New Voices new play festival and at NYU’s Educational Theatre Program at Provincetown Playhouse.

In 2004, The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals worked with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty to create a Theatre for Young Audiences version of Seussical adapted from Broadway. It has since become one of the most produced plays in educational theatre in United States. The Coterie’s Lab for New Family Musicals has hosted new work by musical theatre artists Stephen Schwartz (Geppetto & Son), Willie and Rob Reale (The Dinosaur Musical), Harry Connick Jr. (The Happy Elf), and other works by Ahrens and Flaherty (Twice Upon a Time and a TYA version of Once On This Island). Click here to read KCUR’s interview with Lynn Ahrens on this collaboration.  More recently, The Coterie hosted Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire to fashion a new version of Shrek the Musical. Other recent musical world premieres include Madagascar – A Musical AdventureAlice’s Wonderland, and the TYA versions of The SpongeBob MusicalDoctor Dolittle, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Each year, The Coterie’s mainstage season also includes the Young Playwrights’ Festival, which features the works of teen playwrights fostered through the Young Playwrights’ Roundtable.

Production History

*World Premiere   |   **Commissioned World Premiere   |   ***American Premiere


Akeelah and the Bee

Tell-Tale Electric Poe

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Only One Day a Year **

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical!

Doctor Dolittle * (Theatre for Young Audiences Premiere)


Electric Poe 2021 * (co-produced event with Union Cemetery Historical Society)

Mobile Molière * (Coterie presents UMKC Theatre)

The SpongeBob Musical for Young Audiences * (Theatre for Young Audiences Premiere)

Pete the Cat

Alice’s Wonderland *


Electric Poe * (co-produced event with Union Cemetery Historical Society)

Mesner Puppet Theater’s The Snowy Day and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats

BRAINSTORM: The Inside Life of the Teenage Mind [The Coterie virtually presents UMKC Theatre]

Mesner Puppet Theater’s How to Snag a Sea Monster: A Terrifically Tall Tale *

Dragons Love Tacos [The Coterie presents UMKC Theatre in Crown Center Square]


Rise Up

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The White Rose: We Defied Hitler

PUFFS or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic

Pete the Cat [rescheduled to Spring 2022]

Disney’s The Little Mermaid [canceled – Covid]

A Kids Play About Racism * (national collaboration)


Becoming Martin *

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Secret Soldiers: Heroines in Disguise

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure

Elephant & Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”


We Shall Not Be Moved: The Student Sit-Ins of 1960

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Secret of Courage *

Tuck Everlasting

Project Pride 2018

Jack and the Bean Mágico!

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2018

Goosebumps: Phantom of the Auditorium – The Musical

Disney’s Newsies


The Nine Who Dared: Courage in Little Rock

The Presidents! (Tour)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Hana’s Suitcase

No Talking *

Project Pride 2017

Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2017

Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude


The Miracle Worker

A Charlie Brown Christmas

And Justice for Some: The Freedom Trial of Anthony Burns [1858]

Tomás and the Library Lady

Where the Wild Things Are

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2016

Madagascar – A Musical Adventure *

A Bird of Prey (KC Fringe Festival)


Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

To Whom It May Inspire [in letters, stories & song] * (at the Coterie)

To Whom It May Inspire [in letters, stories & song] * (Tour)

Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2015

A Year with Frog and Toad

I and You (KC Fringe Festival)


Red Badge Variations **

Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker

The Wiz

Afflicted: Daughters of Salem *

Geek Mythology: I Was a Teenage Immortal ** (On the mainstage at The Coterie)

Geek Mythology: I Was a Teenage Immortal ** (Tour)

Zeus On the Loose (Tour)

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2014

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang * (Premiere theatre for young audiences version)


The Outsiders

Children of the Damned Corn **

Seussical * (see 2004)

The Wrestling Season ** (see premiere 2000)

Freedom Sisters

Lucky Duck (at the Folly)

Lucky Duck (at the New Victory Theater, New York)

James and the Giant Peach

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2012

Once Upon a Mattress * (Premiere theatre for young audiences version)

All of Us (KC Fringe Festival)


Spring Awakening

Dear America: Across the Wide Lonesome Prairie

The Presidents (Tour)

Shrek The Musical * (Premiere theatre for young audiences version)

Number the Stars

Tell-Tale Electric Poe (see premiere, 2009)

Slashdance **

Bud Not Buddy

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2013

Lyle the Crocodile

Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (KC Fringe Festival)


Science Fiction Triple Feature

Sorority House of the Dead **

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Bridge to Terabithia

The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza (at the Coterie)

The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza (Tour)

Ben Franklin’s Apprentice

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2011

The Wiz (Theatre for Young Audiences version)


Tell-Tale Electric Poe **

Maul of the Dead **

Little House on the Prairie

Life on the Mississippi *

Spooky Dog: A Scooby-Doo-Like Mystery (Improvised, Plagiarized, Not for Kiddies)

Young Playwrights’ Festival 2010 *


Lucky Duck * (Premiere Theatre for Young Audiences version)


And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank

Night of the Living Dead

Seussical * (see premiere, 2004)

Our Town

The Breakfast Club – Live Mondays

Atypical Boy **

Roald Dahl’s The Witches

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

U: BUG: ME *


A Star Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hole in Heaven

Night of the Living Dead

The Happy Elf **

In Spite of Thunder: The Macbeth Project

A Separate Peace

Sideways Stories From Wayside School

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

Once On This Island *  (Premiere Theatre for Young Audiences version)


With Their Eyes: The View of  9/11 from a High School at Ground Zero

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

The Giver

The Country of the Blind *

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

Twice Upon a Time: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Emperor’s New Clothes *   (Premiere double bill)


The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 *

Stuart Little

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Search For Odysseus ***

Ferdinand the Bull

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

Geppetto and Son *


The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ***

The Night Before Christmas

Selkie: Between Land and Sea *


The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

The Dinosaur Musical *


Gatherings In Graveyards III *

Sarah Plain And Tall

After Juliet ***

Everyday Heroes / Breath Of An American Spirit: Sacagawea ***

The B.F.G.

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

Seussical *   (Premiere Theatre For Young Audiences Version)


Frankenstein *

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas **


The Tangled Web ***

Schoolhouse Rock Live, Too!

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

The Hundred and One Dalmatians


Breath of an American Spirit: Sacagawea **

Little House On The Shores Of Silver Lake **

Playing For Time

Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman and Other Superhero Girls Like Me

The Wind in the Willows

Young Playwrights’ Festival *

Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Gatherings in Graveyards II *

Little House on the Prairie

Great Expectations

Glass Menagerie

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

A Little Princess


Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show

A Little House Christmas

The Wrestling Season **

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Really Rosie

Little Women


20th Anniversary “Great Books, Banned Books Season”

To Kill A Mockingbird

Mark Twain on Mondays *

Little House Christmas in the Indian Territory **

Of Mice and Men

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Lord of the Flies ***

Free to Be… You and Me

The 7 Dwarfs


The Lilies Of The Field

Evester Roper, Storyteller

Little House Christmas at Plum Creek **

A Village Fable: In the Suicide Mountains

Buffalo Hair

Young Playwrights’ Showcase*

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

Pippi Longstocking


Beyond The Miracle

Machisma… Voices of the Past

A Little House Christmas


Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Valley Song

The Reluctant Dragon

Lyle, Lyle, The Crocodile


Alicia In Wonder Tierra *

Maxine Maxwell, Storyteller

Green Eggs & Ham *

Across the Plains **

The Very First Family **  (Tour)

Anne Frank and Me *

Coyote Mischief Tales **

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Rocky & Bullwinkle

A Wrinkle in Time **


The Former One-On-One Basketball Champion

The Little Prince *

The Meeting  (Tour)

To Be Young, Gifted & Black

Darkside Of The Moon

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Lyle, Lyle, the Crocodile

Mr. A’s Amazing Maze Play

Animal Fair


My Children! My Africa! 


The Pearl *

A Woman Called Truth  (Tour)

The Hobbit **

The Very First Family **

Young Playwrights’ Showcase *

Oz **


The Meeting


Oliver Twist *

Wolf Child **

Blazing The Outback *



Anne Of Green Gables


A Woman Called Truth


Dennis, The Musical

Red Badge of Courage

Most Valuable Player

Mr. Racoon & His Friends **

Neverland **

The Red Sneaks




We, The People  (Tour)

Amber Waves

Amelia Lives


Charlotte’s Web

The Secret Garden


Great Expectations


Laughing Matters  (Tour)

Animal Farm

Most Valuable Player

The Ugly Duckling

Laughter in the Rafters

Nate The Great *


Gatherings from the Graveyard *


The Odyssey


Dirty Beasts *


Ransom Of Red Chief


Slapstick! *

The Best of Pooh

Laughing Matters

Dragons *

We, The People *

The Wind In The Willows


Triple Play


Fiddlin’ Around *


Monkey & The Golden Sunrise

The Diary Of Anne Frank

Circus Home

The Jungle Book

Three For All


Kid’s Ink *

The World Of Pooh

Kid’s Ink *  (Tour)

Huck Finn

To Kill A Mockingbird

Charlotte’s Web

Beauty & The Beast

Laughing Matters


Chalkboard Secrets *




Charlotte’s Web


Zounds, A Phonic! *

Hums Poems Of Pooh

Monkey, Monkey

Rotten Apples *

The Miracle Worker


Step On A Crack

House at Pooh Corner

Phantasmagoria *

Harbledown! *


Hurdles *


Act Your Age *

Me, Myself & I *



The Velveteen Rabbit

Many Moons

Finders Keepers *


Onions in the Ice Cream *

Butterfly Ball *


Incorporation year

Homemade Magic *


Hums & Poems Of Pooh *