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David Coolidge Named New Director of Findlay First Edition

Ohio’s most storied show choir program is poised to put pen to paper on its next chapter.

David Coolidge is set to become Findlay First Edition’s next director, pending school board approval on Tuesday, June 18.

"I am excited to begin my new role as Director of Findlay First Edition," Coolidge told HomeRoom Show Choir via email.

"With my experience as director of two collegiate musical theatre programs, I believe I am up to the challenge while fully understanding the weight this role will have in young artists’ lives."

Coolidge, an FFE alum himself, will replace Kevin Manley. Manley left Findlay City Schools at the end of the 2023-24 school year. His achievements during a 20-year run included numerous wins, pushing First Edition past 100 total, and consistent high placings at Show Choir Nationals.

Mary Beth Coolidge, David’s wife, will become the Findlay High School choir director and assistant director of First Edition.

The people at Findlay did not have to search very far. David Coolidge was in First Edition at the same time as actor Gavin Creel in the 1990s. He is currently the Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Director of Musical Theatre at Ohio Northern University. ONU is located in Ada, about a half hour south of Findlay. He has also been judging at several Ohio-area show choir competitions dating back almost a decade.

In 2023, First Edition notched a grand championship at Homestead to kick off the season on Feb. 3. The group made finals everywhere, including a fourth at Show Choir Nationals.

HomeRoom also understands that Andy Haines, who has choreographed FFE shows for 40 years, chose not to continue working with the group for the 2025 season and beyond. The decision was made prior to Coolidge being named director. Coolidge's choice of choreographer will be an important one in a changing show choir landscape.

The new leadership team will also have a big decision to make regarding style. Under Manley, Findlay was one of the prototypical ‘traditional’ show choir groups. The choir generally sang and danced to a light theme and was nowhere near the ‘story show’ that some groups are gravitating towards. With a change in leadership comes the choice to bring a new identity to FFE or continue polishing its current image.

Further details regarding First Edition’s 2025 season, including a competition schedule, are expected to be forthcoming.

However, at the end of the day, don't expect First Edition's next chapter to be too far from its previous chapter.

"As a former member of FFE, I understand the importance of the group, not only to the school but to the community and state," Coolidge noted. "Kevin Manley is a personal friend and his wife, Kirsten Osbun-Manley has been a mentor and valued colleague for years. Like so many in the show choir community, I recognize Kevin’s dedication and the legacy of this incredible program. Like Kevin Manley, and J.D. Smith before, I want to support the arts in Findlay City Schools and ensure our students find a group where they can grow as artists and a place where they belong and thrive as people. It is my deep desire that FFE continues to be synonymous with excellence, professionalism, and inclusion.”

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