After Nation-wide Search, CTM Selects Local Candidate

Brian Cowing

January 26, 2024

Children’s Theater of Madison (CTM) has named Brian Cowing to be their new Artistic Director. Cowing has served as Interim Artistic Director following Roseann Sheridan, who retired September 2023 after 17 years leading the organization. Cowing was chosen after a national search. He will assume the full role of Artistic Director effective immediately.

In April of 2023, Children’s Theater of Madison’s Board of Directors voted to empanel a Search Committee to recruit and vet candidates for its Artistic Director leadership position. The committee was composed of past and current board directors, CTM staff, community stakeholders and advocates for justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the Arts. Committee co-chairs were Joshua Woolfolk and Melanie Schmidt. Woolfolk is a member of CTM’s Board of Directors and Senior Director of Development for the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association; Schmidt is the owner of Timpano Consulting specializing in strategic and organizational planning.

From CTM board President, Arlen Moss:“At the heart of CTM’s values is a commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our policies, productions and programming. As such, these principles guided the search process to select our next Artistic Director. We could not be more pleased with the result.”

Brian Cowing is a director, choreographer, teaching artist and arts administrator from Middleton, WI. He started with Children’s Theater of Madison as a student and young performer in 1997. In high school and college, Brian began interning and teaching for CTM’s Summer Stage program, working with young people of all ages. He began directing and choreographing for CTM in 2016 with the company’s 50th Anniversary production of The Wizard of Oz. Since then, he has directed and choreographed Seussical, Tuck Everlasting, Matilda, Stellaluna, and A Christmas Carol. Cowing has also worked on the business side of CTM as a project manager and development associate.

As of September 1, 2023, Cowing has overseen the artistic and production aspects of the current (2023/24) season, as CTM Interim Artistic Director. In addition, Cowing directed and choreographed CTM’s signature production of A Christmas Carol, and will do the same for The Lightning Thief: A Percy Jackson Musical, opening March 2nd, 2024.

Cowing will work alongside Executive Director, Allen Ebert, leading the nearly 60-year old organization into the future. “We are so fortunate to have the talent and skills of Brian joining the CTM team. I am so excited about the future and what Brian will bring as we continue to provide quality programming for youth and their communities,” Says Ebert.

Brian Cowing notes, “Children’s Theater of Madison has profoundly influenced my life for the past 25 years. Witnessing the company’s growth and transformation into a leading force in the Theater For Young Audiences field has been truly inspiring. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of the exceptional leadership of Roseann Sheridan and Nancy Thurow, whose remarkable contributions have left a lasting impression on the Madison community. Every day, I strive to ignite the next generation of theater enthusiasts, just as those before me. I owe so much of my success in my career to the fantastic artists I grew up with. I look forward to continuing to spark imagination and build community alongside the phenomenal artists, staff, board members, donors, sponsors, families, and young people that passionately uphold CTM’s mission daily.”

Cowing’s directing and choreography have been seen on many local stages including American Players Theater, Forward Theater, Madison Opera, Four Seasons Theatre, Capital City Theatre, Music Theatre of Madison, Theatre Lila, and Skylight Music Theatre.

Cowing also has an extensive background in theater education. Teaching for Children’s Theater of Madison, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Oklahoma City University, Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway Bootcamp, and the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. Cowing is also a distinguished performer, traveling the country and world on the national tours of Annie and Something Rotten!

Cowing is a graduate of Oklahoma City University’s musical theater program and holds an MA from University of Wisconsin – Madison, Bolz Center for Arts Administration. Cowing grew up in Middleton, WI.

Again from Arlen Moss, CTM board president: “Brian Cowing is a brilliantly talented choreographer and director. His artistic aesthetic is both aspirational and inspiring. Brian leads with a calming spirit of collaboration. As our company evolves in its efforts to welcome and serve traditionally marginalized members of the community, we can rest assured that CTM’s future is in capable, values-centered hands.”

You can see Cowing’s work in the coming months: Directing and Choreographing The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk with Forward Theater, January 25 – February 11, 2024, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical with Children’s Theater of Madison, March 2-17, 2024, and Candide with Madison Opera, April 26 & 28, 2024.