NCT Names New Executive Artistic Director

Award-winning director and playwright Ernie Nolan.

Nashville, Tenn. -- Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) is pleased to announce that Ernie Nolan, an award-winning director and playwright based in Chicago, has been named the company’s new executive artistic director beginning February 1, 2017.

“I am thrilled beyond measure to declare Ernie Nolan NCT’s next artistic director,” said NCT Board Chair Jamie Eskind. “Ernie is an artist of the highest caliber and an esteemed leader in the field of theatre for young audiences. His inspired vision, collaborative spirit, and investment in what is special about NCT are the precise combination of abilities required to lead NCT into the future.”

Mr. Nolan succeeds Scot Copeland, NCT Producing Artistic Director for thirty-one years, who died unexpectedly in February of this year.

“I am incredibly honored to be a part of NCT’s rich history of exceptional theatre for young people,” said Mr. Nolan. “I feel so lucky to be able to call an organization with such talented artists, top notch staff, and dedicated board my new home. I look forward to serving the children, families, and teachers of Nashville with programming that reflects Nashville’s amazing community and bring stories to life that both inspire emotional discovery and ignite a fierce passion for the arts.”

Ernie Nolan received the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2014 award for Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences. As former Artistic Director of Emerald City Theatre, he helped create The Little Theatre, the nation’s first performance space dedicated exclusively to interactive and immersive theatrical experiences for early theatre goers ages five and under. Nolan’s work as a playwright has been featured both nationally and internationally. He has adapted and directed such storybook favorites as If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Take a Mouse to School, Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. His work at The Broadway Playhouse includes A Charlie Brown Christmas, Fancy Nancy The Musical, Pinkalicious, The Cat in the Hat, Cinderella, Charlotte’s Web, and the world premiere of Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat, written in collaboration with GRAMMY nominated recording artist Justin Roberts.

As resident artist of The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City, MO, Nolan has directed and choreographed world premieres by such Tony-nominated artists as Willy and Rob Reale, Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and Bill Russell and Henry Krieger. For Chicago Playworks he has directed The BFG, The Giver, The Witches, A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars, The Day John Henry Came to School, Peter Pan and Wendy, and The Kid Who Ran for President. In March 2012, Ernie made his Off-Broadway debut as a choreographer with Lucky Duck at the New Victory Theatre.

Nolan is currently the International Representative for TYA USA to ASSITEJ, a global theatre for young audiences service organization. With his appointment at NCT, he is leaving his position as Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at The Theatre School. He is a proud graduate of both the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Program (BFA Musical Theatre) and The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing).

The process of identifying a new artistic director for NCT began ten months ago. Frank Parsons at the Center for Nonprofit Management worked with NCT to conduct the search. The NCT Board of Trustees approved Nolan’s appointment unanimously in late November.

“We looked long and hard and were extremely deliberate in our search for a new artistic director, said Craige Hoover, chair of the search committee. “We were determined to find all of the qualities we wanted in one candidate and we believe we have that in Ernie.”

Nolan will visit the theatre periodically over the next two months as he prepares for NCT's 2017-18 season, and will officially assume his post in February 2017.

For more information, please contact Erin McInnis, NCT's Director of Marketing, at emcinnis@nashvillect.org.