By Lynn Venhaus
The show will go on this summer at The Muny – but the 103rd season will start later and be shorter because of the coronavirus pandemic challenges.

After meeting with St. Louis public health officials, The Muny leadership modified plans for a 2021 season of seven shows to five, moved two musicals to next year and pushed back the opening production to July 26.

The Muny’s internal COVID-19 Compliance Task Force, which includes infectious disease experts, developed a plan for attendees, including reducing capacity to 60% to meet the recently updated social distancing guidelines from the city of St. Louis.

With a later start date, The Muny and the city hope the health landscape will continue to improve, providing patrons more comfort and certainty when heading to the theatre.

“The City of St. Louis Department of Health has partnered with The Muny to bring you a safe and enjoyable experience this summer,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting director of health. “By establishing COVID-19 guidelines and collaborating through the planning process, we feel The Muny is well positioned to welcome theater-goers back safely, allowing many who depend on these summertime jobs to provide for their families.”

During the summer, the Muny employs 800 part-time workers in addition to its 35 full-time staff members.

The revised five-show schedule includes “Smokey Joe’s Café,” July 26 – Aug. 1; “The Sound of Music,” Aug. 3-9; “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” Aug. 12-18; “On Your Feet,” Aug. 21-27; and “Chicago,” Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s “Mary Poppins” and “Sweeney Todd” will move to the 2022 season.

The Muny is the nation’s largest and oldest outdoor musical theatre and seats about 11,000. As one of the premier institutions in musical theatre, they usually produce seven musicals each year and welcome more than 350,000 theatregoers over a nine-week season.

Last year, for the first time in 102 years, The Muny stage remained empty because of the public health crisis, with plans moved to this summer, if conditions allowed.

Recently, new Centers for Disease Control guidelines for fully vaccinated people and eased public health restrictions in Illinois and Missouri were announced. To comply with the city, the Muny has established guidelines on social distancing, face coverings, staff health screenings and other mitigation efforts.

Managing Director Kwofe Coleman said it was a well-thought-out decision. As they did last year, they had evaluated every aspect of its operation in relation to their audience, staff, cast, crew and community, with health and safety foremost in everyone’s minds.

“From city leadership to the hundreds who bring theatre to life on our stage each summer, a remarkable sense of collaboration among everyone involved has made it possible for us to safely welcome this community back to its theatre this summer,” Coleman said. “It will be a remarkable moment of hope and relief to see the audience gather and the lights go on. We’ve missed that.”

Fully vaccinated patrons will not be required to wear masks at The Muny. Patrons who are not yet fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks on campus, unless actively eating or drinking.

For this season, social distancing will be required in all areas of the theatre. Patrons will be ticketed in groups of six or less with a minimum distance of 3 feet between parties in all directions (right, left, front and behind).

For the safety of patrons and employees, the event staff will wear masks. In addition, all full-time employees and event staff will be subject to daily health screenings before entering The Muny campus.

Concession stands, kiosks and other retail transactions made on The Muny campus will be cashless and only offer credit, debit or Muny gift card payment options.

Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan said he and the entire Muny family was thrilled to share their plans for the return of live theatre to Forest Park.

“To say we’ve missed our in-person audiences would be a vast understatement. We are overjoyed to welcome St. Louis back to its summer home for musical theatre and ready for many magical nights ahead,” he said.

The return is welcomed by a large contingent of collaborators, said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson.

“For every actor, designer, painter, musician, choreographer — well, everyone who creates at The Muny, the unprecedented past 16 months have been arduous. Knowing we’re returning to do what we do and be who we are is electrifying,” Isaacson said.

The casts and creative teams will be announced in a few weeks, Coleman said.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who said her first job at age 16 was as an usher at the Muny, said she welcomed the return to Forest Park after last season’s cancellation.

“I look forward to this cultural icon bringing people back from all over into Forest Park, and hope everyone who visits takes the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of fellow Muny patrons, performers and workers,” Jones said.

To allow a continuous stream of physically distanced patrons to pass through security checkpoints without the delays typically associated with bag checks and handheld metal detection devices, or wands, the Muny campus has deployed new state-of-the-art metal detection scanners.

For patron convenience, hand sanitizer dispensers will be widely available throughout the Muny campus.

The current season ticket holders for the 2021 season will be contacted personally with detailed information regarding updated seating options.

New subscriptions for the 2021 five-show package will begin June 21, with single tickets becoming available July 5.

Previously, in mid-March, season tickets went on sale for the 103rd season, planning to start weeks later than usual, on July 5 and run through Sept. 5.

But because of the ongoing pandemic and public health restrictions, the Muny management said they would officially make an announcement in May: “A final decision regarding the status of the 2021 season will be made in late spring based on the current health landscape, best practices and all available information.”

The five shows scheduled were top vote-getters from the 101st season survey in 2019.

Two shows are Muny premieres – “Smokey Joe’s Café,” Broadway’s longest running musical revue, which will be set in St. Louis’ historic Gaslight Square, and “On Your Feet!”, the Gloria Estefan musical, which is also the Midwestern regional premiere.

Kander and Ebb’s six-time Tony Award-winning “Chicago” was last seen in 2012. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “The Sound of Music” returns after 11 years for its 11th run. The Golden Age Muny favorite, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” will make its sixth appearance, not since 2011.

“It’s a good mix,” Coleman said. “We pick shows that we hope people are going to enjoy. The main thing is that people are coming back to the Muny and we get to be a community again. It will be an exciting moment.”

Without live shows last summer, the Muny pivoted with virtual programming, producing a free five-episode series, “The Muny 2020 Summer Variety Hour Live!” and airing Muny Magic concerts presented at The Sheldon in the off-season.

With viewers from 22 countries, the total estimated attendance for the free 10-show summer season was 189,582. This number represented a record-breaking first in The Muny’s live-streaming history, and is an aggregated estimate based on YouTube analytics.

The activities at #1 Muny Drive have continued. The stage is being installed and construction is on track.

Because the aging 11.5-acre campus needs upkeep and maintenance, The Muny is currently undergoing a multi-year major renovation project that was announced in October 2018.  Phase 3 started in September, focused on backstage support spaces.

The new Emerson Artists’ Building will house dressing rooms, the wig shop, hair and makeup departments and wardrobe. Renovations are planned for the costume shop, production and general offices, rehearsal space, craft and scenic room, painter and carpenter areas, and the sewer and plumbing infrastructure. The capital campaign has raised $85 million so far.

Coleman, who started at The Muny as a seasonal employee when he was 16, was announced recently as the theatre’s next president and CEO, succeeding Denny Reagan, who is retiring after 53 years. He begins the new position on Jan. 1, 2022.

Their mission, continued since establishing a home in Forest Park as the Municipal Opera in 1918, is to be accessible to all.

Tickets can be purchased online at muny.org or by phone by calling (314) 361-1900. Currently, the box office in Forest Park is closed for walk-up service. However, the box office is available via phone for internet and phone sales. 

All Muny Patron Policies and Sanitation Guidelines are available on The Muny website. Policies will also be communicated in preshow emails to patrons. Campus signage will be located at entrances and throughout public spaces to encourage proper physical distancing, hand sanitation, face covering policies and safety guidelines.

To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, you can sign up for Muny emails or follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

The Muny announced today dates for the highly-anticipated 2021 season. After postponing the 2020 lineup due to COVID-19, a first in the theatre’s 102-year history, The Muny plans to present the originally-announced seven shows in the upcoming 103rd season, should conditions allow.

With new dates and a new show order, the 2021 season includes Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (July 5 – 11), Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins (July 14 – 22), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (July 25 – 31), The Sound of Music (August 3 – 9), Sweeney Todd (August 12 – 18), On Your Feet! (August 21 – 27) and Chicago (August 30 – September 5).
“The thought of having our Muny family and audience together again next summer makes my heart soar,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “The passion, energy and talent that so many put into a Muny show will be through the non-existent roof next summer. Let’s do it.”
Over the next several months, The Muny, in conjunction with city and health officials, will continue to evaluate every aspect of its operation in relation to its audience, staff, cast, crew and community. With ongoing consideration for available information and guidance regarding the anticipated global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, Muny staff are preparing for a delayed start of the 103rd season in July.
“After an incredible online season in 2020, we are excited to hopefully welcome St. Louis back to summer nights in Forest Park in 2021,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “Our teams have been working diligently on presenting a season that is not only filled with ‘only at The Muny moments,’ but also safe. Safety, the comfort of our audience and the climate of the public health crisis will be the ultimate deciding factors.”
Current season ticket holders will be contacted personally in January with more information regarding their options and next steps.

New subscriptions will go on sale March 22, 2021 and single tickets will be available June 1, 2021.

MetroTix is the official ticket outlet of The Muny. Tickets are also securely available at muny.org.

To access season 103 assets, please click here.

Muny gift cards for the 103rd season are now available online at muny.org/store.

To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 350,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season. Celebrating 102 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.

For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org
The Muny has announced that it will offer 10 weeks of free online Muny entertainment for the summer of 2020. For 10 consecutive Monday nights, with a single repeat stream on the subsequent Thursday, audiences and fans can experience the magic of their Muny summer online at muny.org with both curated and newly created entertainment. The Muny’s free online season is proudly sponsored by World Wide Technology.

Beginning Monday, June 15 through Monday, July 13 fans can enjoy five weeks of Muny Magic in Your Home. This new series will feature exclusive, never-before-seen footage of the The Muny’s concert series  Muny Magic at The Sheldon. Launched in 2015, the popular off-season series hosts Muny fan-favorites for intimate evenings of music, song and story.

The online season launches this Monday, June 15 at 8:15 p.m. CDT with Muny favorite, and Tony and Drama Desk Award-winner, Beth Leavel. The first Muny Magic in Your Home will also feature a guest appearance from Tony Award nominee Lara Teeter, as well as other very special surprise artists. Ms. Leavel’s music director is Phil Reno and she is joined by Vince Clark on bass and Nick Savage on drums.

The complete Muny Magic in Your Home schedule is: Beth Leavel (June 15 and 18), A Night with the Buddy Holly Boys (June 22 and 25), Our Leading Ladies (June 29 and July 2), Our Leading Men (July 6 and 9) and Mikaela Bennett and Alex Prakken (July 13 and 16). For descriptions of each show, please see below.

Beginning Monday, July 20 through Monday, August 17 the Muny will produce five online variety shows featuring Muny friends and family from around the world. The full schedule and weekly lineup will be announced in early July.

All Muny online performances can be streamed on Monday and Thursday evenings at no cost via muny.org. These are exclusive, one-time-only streams and will not be available after the Thursday night airing.
“While we can’t be together in Forest Park this summer, we wanted to have a 102nd season to bring our community and our audiences together in whatever manner we can,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer, Mike Isaacson. “One of the reasons The Muny has survived and thrived for more than a century is because we’ve been a wonderful ritual, a life bookmark, for generations of St. Louisans. With our online season, we can keep and honor that beautiful tradition. We hope everyone will gather and enjoy these terrific Muny shows.

“Our teams have been hard at work putting together 10 incredible nights of programming that will hopefully help simulate a small piece of the Muny magic audiences feel each summer in Forest Park,” said Muny President and CEO, Denny Reagan. “To kick off our online season with beloved, longtime Muny favorite Beth Leavel is nothing short of exciting. Her Muny Magic in Your Home performance sets the bar for a great online summer season ahead. We are sad that we won’t see our Muny friends and family in person, but we are eager to spend 10 nights together virtually.”
Beth Leavel | June 15 and 18
Sponsored by World Wide Technology

Beth Leavel received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and L.A. Drama Critics Awards for her performance as the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone. Other Broadway: Dee Dee Allen in The Prom (2019 Tony Award nomination), Florence Greenberg in Baby It’s You! (Tony, Drama Desk, OCC nominations); BandstandElfMamma Mia!Young Frankenstein42nd Street (original and revival), Crazy for YouThe Civil WarShow Boat. Numerous credits off-Broadway, regional theatre, commercials and television, including the Paper Mill Playhouse production of The Bandstand. MFA from University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

Beth’s Muny credits include: inaugural Muny Magic at The Sheldon featured artist (2015), Mama Rose in Gypsy (2018), Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! (2015); Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! (2014); Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense: Muny Style! (2013); Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie (2012), Miss Hannigan in Annie (2009), Vera Charles in Mame (2005), Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street (2004) and Betty Rizzo in Grease (1988). She has also served as an understudy for some of the greatest Muny leading ladies in 1983: Judy Kaye in Can-Can; Lucie Arnaz in I Do! I Do!; Lynn Redgrave in The King and I and Susan Powell in Promises, Promises.



The Buddy Holly Boys | June 22 and 25
Sponsored by Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, Drury Hotels, Safety National and Welsch Heating and Cooling Company

After starring as Buddy and the Crickets in The Muny’s 2015 summer blockbuster Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Andy Christopher, Joe Cosmo Cogen, Kyle Lacy and Nathan Yates Douglass give an electrifying performance in the highest-attended Muny Magic at The Sheldon to date.


Our Leading Ladies | June 29 and July 2
Sponsored by Augusta Winery and Montelle Winery

Danielle Bowen (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, 2016), Ali Ewoldt (Martha Jefferson in 1776, 2019; Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 2017; Maria in West Side Story, 2013), Stephanie Gibson (Gabrielle in Cinderella, 2019; Inga in Young Frankenstein, 2016; Gertie Cummings in Oklahoma!, 2007), and Elena Shaddow (Marian in The Music Man, 2016; Cinderella in Into the Woods, 2015) give heart-stirring tributes to leading ladies of past Muny seasons, including Ethel Merman, Shirley Jones and Bernadette Peters.

Our Leading Men | July 6 and 9
Sponsored by Centene Charitable Foundation

Ben Davis (John Dickinson in 1776, 2019; Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, 2019; Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar, 2017; Curly in Oklahoma!, 2015; Emile de Becque in South Pacific, 2013; Galahad in Spamalot, 2013), Davis Gaines (Joseph Pulitzer in Newsies, 2017), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Jack Kelly in Newsies, 2017, Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street, 2016; Barnaby Tucker in Hello, Dolly!, 2014) and Mykal Kilgore (Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar, 2017) celebrate iconic men from past Muny seasons.


Mikaela Bennett and Alex Prakken | July 13 and 16
Sponsored by U.S. Bank

Muny newcomer Mikaela Bennett (Ella in Cinderella, 2019) and St. Louis native, and former Muny Kid and Teen, Alex Prakken (Courier in 1776, 2019; Marius in Les Misérables, 2013) take audiences on an enchanted journey through the musical theatre songbook.

For digital assets, including the Muny Magic in Your Home logo and b-roll of Beth Leavel, please click here World Wide Technology (WWT) became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They are committed to continuing in this role with their leadership gift as The Muny’s 2020 Online Season Presenting Sponsor To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 350,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season. Celebrating 102 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.

For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org

Nearly a year into the public phase of their Second Century Capital Campaign, The Muny announced this week a progress update of $72 million raised to date of its $100 million goal.

A first of its kind for the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre, the gifts acquired during this campaign will support capital improvements that include a complete rebuild of the Muny stage, extensive renovations to backstage support spaces, assistance for the maintenance and upkeep of the aging 11.5-acre campus, and the growth of the theatre’s endowment.

The campaign will also aid in continuing The Muny’s core mission of remaining accessible through its 1,500 free seats and Community Access Program.

Photo by Julie A. Merkle“This campaign would not be possible without the generous support of countless Muny-goers,” said President and CEO Denny Reagan. “We are truly humbled and thankful and look forward to completing this campaign with St. Louis by our side.”    “The support the St. Louis community has given The Muny through this campaign in just under a year is remarkable,” said Muny Second Century Capital Campaign Chairman Jim Turley. “Without them, the second century of magic would not be possible.” “It is up to all of us to continue making The Muny the best it can be for generations to come,” said Director of Advancement Courtney Simms. “We have achieved much success in this campaign so far, but still have an exciting journey ahead. Every gift matters!”To give, or for more information regarding The Muny’s Second Century Capital Campaign, please visit muny.org/secondcentury.

100th Season Included Two Regional World Premieres
The numbers are in: 393,398 people attended the Muny’s Centennial season under the stars at America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater.
It is a six percent increase over 2017, and that includes an 11 percent growth in season tickets. Nearly 100,000 guests experienced a Muny production at no cost through The Muny’s free seat and community access programs.
Of the seven shows, “Meet Me in St. Louis” drew the biggest crowds, with  76,500 in attendance.  The season included “Annie,” 69,638; “Singin’ in the Rain,” 56,385; “Jersey Boys,” 54,766;  “The Wiz,” 49,486;  “Gypsy,” 43,712; and “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” 42,911.
“This season – from that magnificent Gala all the way through the fireworks finale of Meet Me In St. Louis – was truly a community-wide celebration,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “We are so proud to have had this opportunity to share this summer with the hundreds of thousands of audience members who have made The Muny’s storied past and inspiring future possible.”

“Muny 100 was a season we will all remember the rest of our lives,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “The passion and joy we received from the audience was palpable, and everyone on and backstage gave their extraordinary best. The only response I can have is profound awe and gratitude.”
 In addition, 6,804 guests attended The Muny’s Centennial Gala, An Evening with the Stars. When combined, total attendance for the seven-show summer season and An Evening with the Stars: 400,202.
VIDEO recap of 2018 Season: https://youtu.be/WsMENOI8yv4
100th Season attendance by show:
Jerome Robbins’ Broadway: 42,911
This monumental world regional premiere was a celebratory start to our centennial season! Scenes from some of Robbins’ biggest hits, including West Side Story, On the Town, Peter Pan, The King and I and Fiddler on the Roof showcased the talent of Tony Award-winning director and choreographer, Jerome Robbins. In its first ever staging since its original Broadway production and national tour, it enchanted audiences.
The Wiz: 49,486
In its first Muny production in 36 years, this feel-good favorite had audiences clicking their heels in the aisles all night long. Sparkling with heart-pounding soul, unforgettable gospel and infectious rock rhythms, this reimagined familiar favorite had audiences ready to “Ease on Down the Road” to meet The Wiz!
Singin’ in the Rain: 56,385
Known for its splashy production numbers and snappy dialogue, this timeless Muny favorite was a downpour of pure delight. The forecast predicted sunny smiles and dazzling dancing, and stars Corbin Bleu, Berklea Going and Jeffrey Schecter splashed right into audiences’ hearts.
Jersey Boys: 54,766
The story of the magic behind the music of international sensation Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons arrived at The Muny in style in its world regional premiere. The star-studded cast even captured the heart of real-life Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio, who stopped by to give our production his heartfelt blessing.

Annie: 69,638
Everyone’s favorite plucky, freckle-faced orphan did not disappoint! Audiences took a stroll down “Easy Street” to follow the story of Annie’s journey from a “Hard Knock Life” to her forever home. With songs and kick-lines that entertained the entire family, this production was a multigenerational hit!
Gypsy: 43,712
Fans were awestruck by the countless showstoppers and striking backstory of famous burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. The hidden hardships and highlights of show business came center stage with a heart-stirring performance by Beth Leavel as Momma Rose in this cherished classic. We loved letting them entertain us all night long!

Meet Me In St. Louis: 76,500
Zing, zing, zing went our heartstrings! Meet Me In St. Louis was the perfect finale to our majestic centennial season. Showcasing a boy-next-door romance and a close-knit, Midwestern family, this production was the perfect ribbon on a monumental season…right here in St. Louis.

The Muny’s 101st Season announcement will take place at Muny Magic at The Sheldon on October 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now, online at muny.org, by phone 314-534-1111 or at The Muny Box Office.
 
The Muny’s mission is to enrich lives by producing exceptional musical theatre, accessible to all, while continuing its remarkable tradition in Forest Park. As the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre, we produce seven world-class musicals each year and welcome over 390,000 theatregoers over our nine-week season.
Celebrating 100 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the
premier institutions in musical theatre. For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org