The Muny announced today attendance totals for its triumphant 103rd season. After a 714-day intermission, The Muny opened its gates on July 26, 2021, for a five-show season that included Smokey Joe’s CafeThe Sound of MusicSeven Brides for Seven BrothersOn Your Feet! and Chicago. The highly anticipated lineup for the 2022 season will be announced later this fall and will include Sweeney Todd and Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins.

“After an extended intermission, Season 103 offered an incredible homecoming for many,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “We are so proud to have gotten the chance to present five productions for our audience, and to have had the opportunity to put our dedicated teams back to work. We cannot thank St. Louis enough for coming out and showing their support — we are forever grateful.”

“This past season will live in our hearts forever,” said Muny Executive Producer and Artistic Director Mike Isaacson. “You could scoop the audiences’ joy at being back at The Muny. It was so powerful. And everyone backstage gave everything they have as people and professionals to create our five extraordinary productions. I am enormously grateful.”

“Our 2021 season will, hopefully, be remembered as the summer this community came together and showed what the heart and willpower of a city can do,” said Muny Managing Director Kwofe Coleman. “Watching thousands of patrons light up as they passed through our gates each night is the reason we exist. While challenging, Season 103 will forever stand out in our history as poignant and unforgettably necessary.”

Total attendance for the five-show summer season: 192,806. This number does not include the Aug. 12 rainout of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, or the Aug. 31 rainout and final three cancelled performances of Chicago. Through The Muny’s free seat and Community Access programs, over 50,000 guests experienced a Muny production at no cost.

103rd season attendance by show:

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE: 37,290
The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
July 26 – August 1
Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Sponsored by Ameren

Muny Premiere
Ben E. King, The Coasters, Elvis Presley, Peggy Lee and The Drifters – what do they have in common? Besides being some of the most popular artists of the 50s and 60s, their hits, and over 35 others, were the bread and butter of Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Set in St. Louis’ historic Gaslight Square, Broadway’s longest-running musical revue included Grammy Award-winning favorites such as “Yakety Yak,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “On Broadway” and “Love Potion No. 9.” With this generation-defining Muny premiere, audiences were dancing in the aisles.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC: 55,409
August 3 – 9
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp
Sponsored by Edward Jones
Considered by many to be the world’s most beloved musical, The Sound of Music reminds us that with high-spirited hope, heartfelt compassion and unwavering determination, life’s mountains can always be climbed. With its Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winning score, including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and the iconic title track “The Sound of Music,” the hills of Forest Park came alive once more!

Photo by Phillip Hamer

SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS: 39,974
August 12 – 18
Book by Lawrence Kasha and David Landay
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Music by Gene de Paul
New Songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Based on the MGM Film and
“The Sobbin’ Women” by Stephen Vincent Benet
Dance Music Arrangements by Sam Davis
Sponsored by U.S. Bank
Based on the Academy Award-winning 1954 film, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is Americana at its finest. With an age-old tale of wooing and winning, the battle of the sexes and some barn-raising dancing, this western rollick featured whistle-worthy favorites, including “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” and “Goin’ Courtin’.” With two of the most eminent dance scenes in musical theatre history and seven times the fun, audiences saddled up for an unforgettable joyride through the Oregon frontier.

Note: The attendance total does not include the Aug. 12 rainout performance of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

ON YOUR FEET!: 38,335
The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan
August 21 – 27
Featuring Music Produced and Recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
Book by Alexander Dinelaris
Sponsored by BMO Harris Bank

Muny Premiere
Based on the inspiring true story of the queen of Latin pop, Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, On Your Feet! is a universal sensation that shows what can happen when two people believe in their talent, music and one another. Their moving rags-to-riches story featured some of the most chart-topping songs of the past quarter-century, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “1-2-3,” “Coming Out of the Dark” and the title hit, “Get On Your Feet.” With this Muny premiere, audiences left ready to “Conga!”

Photo by Phillip Hamer

CHICAGO: 21,798
August 30 – September 5
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins
Script Adaptation by David Thompson
Sponsored by Missouri Lottery
Start the car and head to a “whoopee spot” where crime and corruption are hot! Kander and Ebb’s internationally-acclaimed musical about fame, fortune and justice features a headline-worthy story of how two icon-victs become Jazz Age celebrities. Set during the Prohibition era, this six-time Tony Award-winner, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, included showstopping standards such as “Cell Block Tango,” “Mister Cellophane” and the notorious “All That Jazz.”

Note: The attendance total does not include the Aug. 31 rainout or final three cancelled performances of Chicago.

Emerson is proud to be The Muny’s 2021 Season Sponsor.

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

. Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

The Muny announced Friday afternoon the cancellation of the three remaining performances of Chicago, the theatre’s fifth and final production of its 103rd season, due to positive COVID-19 breakthrough cases within the cast. There will be no performances Friday through Sunday, Sept. 3, 4 and 5, 2021.

“While deeply unfortunate, the decision to cancel the remainder of this season is unquestionably necessary. The safety of our Muny family, both onstage and off, has been a top priority since day one,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “Out of 35 nights of Muny magic scheduled for 2021, we were able to spend 31 of them together. We cannot thank St. Louis enough for helping us usher live theatre back into Forest Park. This season has been nothing short of a homecoming for many.”

“The heartbreak of this moment is real,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “This was a remarkable production of Chicago, and I am so grateful for its three nights of glory. I feel the same about our entire 103rd season. It was extraordinary, and I honor everyone for their artistry, humanity and commitment.”

“We’ve remained in constant communication with health professionals and officials throughout this pandemic, and are remarkably grateful for their guidance in getting us to this point,” said Muny Managing Director Kwofe Coleman. “While this is a disappointing end to our 103rd season, we remain proud and grateful that this community, including our crews and staff, worked together to make it possible for an unforgettable return to live theatre in Forest Park. We’ll see you next summer.”

Season ticket holders for the 2021 season will be contacted with detailed information regarding remaining balance options. Single ticket holders who purchased their tickets through MetroTix will receive an email and automatic refund from MetroTix. The Muny Box Office in Forest Park will be closed Sept. 3 – 6. Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, Muny Box Office hours will be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Single ticket holders who bought their tickets in person at the Muny Box Office in Forest Park m ay call or return to the box office to receive a refund. Refunds for the canceled performances are available Sept. 7 through Sept. 30, 2021.

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

By Lynn Venhaus

The best produced show of the Muny’s 103rd season, “Chicago” capped off the welcome return to tradition in Forest Park this summer with a sultry and sleek music-and-dance showcase.

Everything about the production was on point – from the crisp staging by director Denis Jones and his snappy choreography to the jazzy brass beats from the swinging orchestra conducted by music director Charlie Alterman.

And this production blazes with star power. You will remember the names of the lead trio: Sarah Bowden (Roxie Hart), J. Harrison Ghee (Velma Kelly) and James T. Lane (Billy Flynn).

With snazzy music by John Kander and barbed lyrics by Fred Ebb, patterned after old-timey vaudeville numbers, and a saucy original book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, the story is a sardonic take on fame and the justice system set during the freewheeling Jazz Age.

It is based on a 1926 play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals she covered for a newspaper in Chicago. This current script adaptation is by David Thompson, who worked with Kander and Ebb on the musicals “The Scottsboro Boys” and “Steel Pier.”

Jones’ clever concept was to set the show as an entertaining spectacle at a speakeasy, with café tables around a perimeter so it’s watched by not only the Muny audience but also by performers on stage. He did a similar staging, but not an exact replica, for the 2012 Muny version. That point of view works brilliantly.

Scenic designer Tim Mackabee gave it a striking look while the lighting design by Rob Denton added to the stylized atmosphere and the stellar video design by Shawn Duan complemented the experience perfectly.

Drenched in cynicism, “Chicago” satirizes corruption and is a show-bizzy spin on tawdry headline-grabbing trial that marked the Prohibition Era — but are also timely today. Merry murderers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly attempt to seize the spotlight and become celebrities.

Perhaps when the musical debuted in 1975, it was ahead of its time, for contemporary audiences didn’t find it relatable.  The week after the Broadway show closed after 936 performances in the summer of 1977, it transferred to the Muny. Starring Jerry Orbach and Ann Reinking, it was not well-received (I was there).

The mostly unsympathetic characters take part in a three-ring circus that’s part illusion and part rhapsody in sleaze. Its relevance has only grown over the years, especially in the digital age of social media.

A rebirth after a robust 1996 Tony Award-winning revival received universal acclaim and broke records as the longest-running musical revival and the longest running American musical in history, second only to “The Phantom of the Opera” on the all-inclusive list (it surpassed “Cats” on Nov. 23, 2014, with its 7,486th performance).

Because the 24-hour news cycle has helped fuel an obsessive celebrity culture and the emergence of reality television has made stars out of unsavory housewives, wealthy influencers like the Kardashians and self-absorbed narcissists, now society has caught up with “Chicago’s” place in pop culture history.

It took me awhile to warm up to the musical, but after watching a few high-profile celebrity trials, you see the parallels. And those songs from the team that gave us the insightful “Cabaret” get better every time you hear them.

Sarah Bowden as Roxie Hart. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

A movie adaptation in 2002 garnered an Academy Award for Best Picture, earning six total, including Best Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma, which also helped its acceptance. It was the first musical since “Oliver!” in 1968 to win the top award.

Cut to Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson’s first season at The Muny in 2012, and “Chicago” was second in the line-up following Fox Theatricals’ Tony winner “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” He said it had been the most requested show on the annual survey for several years.

It’s back, for just the third time, 10 years later, with Jones, now a two-time Tony Award nominee for choreography on “Tootsie” in 2019 and “Holiday Inn” in 2017, raising the bar once again.

He has put his stamp on of two of the Muny’s best shows during the past decade, “42nd Street” in 2016 (Jones, St. Louis Theater Circle Award) and “A Chorus Line” in 2017, and now with another fresh outlook on “Chicago.”

Jones is familiar with the Broadway revival, for he was a swing performer and later dance captain, during four separate runs for him (performing in total for about four and a half years). He worked with Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, Joel Grey and James Naughton, who began their roles in 1996. So, he had specific ideas on what to keep and what to change.

His associate choreographer, Barry Busby, deserves a shout-out too, for the dance numbers are seamless. They put the roar back in The Roaring Twenties, and the vibrancy shows in Bowden-led “Roxie” and “Me and My Baby,” and Billy’s flashy “Razzle Dazzle.”

“Chicago” will always be Fosse’s magnus opus, for his signature moves, those distinctive deliberate dance steps – and jazz hands! But this isn’t a copycat at all.  (Fosse may have lost the Tonys for choreographer and director pf “Chicago” to “A Chorus Line” in 1976, but he holds the all-time record, with eight, for choreography).

The athletic dancers excel at the high-octane numbers. Six performers carry out “Cell Block Tango” with the attitudes you expect – Liz (Madison Johnson), Annie (Taeler Cyrus), June (Veronica Fiaoni), Hunyak (Lizz Picini), Velma (Ghee), and Mona (Carleigh Bettiol), more commonly known as “Pop, Six, Squish, Uh-Uh, Cicero, and Lipschitz.”

Bowden plays Hart with verve, oozing phony wholesomeness in the public eye and a ruthless craving for attention when not. She was here once, in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” and is an energetic firecracker on stage.

The magnetic Ghee sashays and struts as tough-as-nails Kelly, resentful of Hart being the shiny new sensation. He got our attention as Lola in “Kinky Boots” in 2019 and is a dynamic force every time he appears. Wearing satiny outfits and displaying a silky voice, he sets the tone with a seductive “All That Jazz” and an indignant “I Know a Girl,” and shows off his dexterity in “I Can’t Do It Alone.”

J Harrison Ghee, Sarah Bowden. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

Bowden is fire to Ghee’s ice, a combustible fun mix for the “My Own Best Friend” that closes Act 1 and the “Nowadays”/ “Hot Honey Rag” finale with those omnipresent canes and hats Fosse was so fond of using.

James T. Lane embodies the slick ambulance chaser lawyer Billy Flynn with a demanding and greedy nature – and delivers a dandy disingenuous “All I Care About” – accompanied by a marvelous fan dance that received its own ovation. Lane was last seen as Sebastian in 2017’s “Little Mermaid” here.

One of this show’s standout numbers is the “We Both Reached for the Gun” press conference rag with Billy pulling Roxie’s strings like a ventriloquist and the ensemble doing fast footwork.

It’s good to see veteran performers Emily Skinner and Adam Heller, who were both in The Rep’s magnificent “Follies” in 2016, and St. Louis Theater Circle nominees for previous Muny work, back on the outdoor stage. As Matron “Mama” Morton, Skinner belts out a terrific “When You’re Good to Mama” and teams with Ghee on one of my favorites, “Class.”

Heller, last seen as Ben Franklin in “1776,” plays Roxy’s cuckolded husband Amos Hart as a more naïve sad sack, not realizing how he is being manipulated. He strikes the right tone for an affecting ‘Mr. Cellophane.”

With her sweet soprano, Ali Ewoldt poses as the powerful radio personality Mary Sunshine and sings the ironic “Little Bit of Good.”

Regular Michael James Reed capably portrays five different roles in the ensemble: stage manager, Sgt. Fogarty, doctor, Aaron and the Judge.

The technical elements were also superior, with costume designer Emily Rebholz’s striking work with vintage fashions and for limber dance outfits, accompanied by strong wig design by Tommy Kurzman.

The shortened season is coming to an end, and what the Muny achieved this summer is remarkable, putting five shows together in eight weeks. This is also the time for a fond farewell to Denny Reagan, who is retiring after spending 53 years at the Muny, the last 30 as President and CEO.

A trip to the Muny isn’t complete until you greet Denny, or see him greeting patrons, at his ‘spot.’ We look forward to working with his top-shelf successor, Kwofe Coleman, starting in January.

Cell Block Tango. Photo by Phillip Hamer.

This collaborative production was a grand, great, swell time where all the elements came together in blissful harmony.

Attendance for the opening night performance was 6,435. The show runs an estimated 2 hours and 30 minutes.

“Chicago” is the final show of the shortened 103rd five-show season,  through Sunday, Sept. 5. Performances are at 8:15 p.m. each evening on the outdoor stage in Forest Park. Emerson was the 103rd season sponsor.

For more information, visit muny.org.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office, online at muny.org or by phone by calling (314) 361-1900 ext. 1550.

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 company of ‘Chicago.” Photo by Phillip Hamer.

Following the previously announced acquisition of a $4 million gift from Barbara and Andrew Taylor in February of 2019, and the previously announced acquisition of a $2 million gift from Purina in February of 2020, both towards The Muny’s Second Century Capital Campaign, The Muny announced today the naming of the Broadhurst Pavilion and Purina Plaza, formerly known as the West Platform and West Lawn, respectively.

The Taylor’s gift, given in honor of their great niece and Muny Kid and Teen alumnae Allison Broadhurst, who began performing at The Muny in 2011, aided in the state-of-the-art renovation of the platform – the same platform where Broadhurst spent many summers. Recently completed pavilion renovations include enhanced lighting, large-scale fans, a new dance floor with an operational turntable, the first of its kind in North America, landscaping and updates to the prop storage warehouse located directly beneath the pavilion.

Located adjacent to Purina Plaza, the pavilion will be utilized not only for rehearsals, but also as a performance stage for The Muny Kids and Teens showcases and private preshow events. In the off-season, the Broadhurst Pavilion will serve as a gathering space for community events, including Earth Day, the African Arts Film Festival and private events.

Purina’s gift aided in a complete renovation of The Muny’s West Lawn. Nestled in the northwest corner of the campus, Purina Plaza features a small performance stage to showcase local talent, art installations, versatile photo opportunities, game areas and lush landscaping. The Purina Plaza will serve as a dynamic, community-focused preshow space where patrons can gather for meals, entertainment and recreation throughout the season.

Ali-Hogan-Amelia-and-Lee-Broughton-Jo-Ann-Kindle-Chrissy-Andy-and-Barbara-Taylor-Grace-Broughton-Allison-Melinda-Bo-and-Benjamin-Broadhurst

Both spaces were revealed to a small group on June 19 at a private event hosted at the pavilion and plaza. In attendance, were members of the Taylor and Broadhurst families, including Barbara, Andrew, Allison, and her parents Bo and Melinda Broadhurst, and Nestlé Purina PetCare Chairman Joe Sivewright, Nestlé Purina PetCare President and CEO Nina Leigh Krueger, with remarks from Muny Board Chairman and Second Century Capital Campaign Chairman James S. Turley, Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan, Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson, Muny Managing Director Kwofe Coleman and Allison.

The event included inaugural Broadhurst Pavilion performances by The Muny Teens and Tony Award nominee and Muny favorite Taylor Louderman, a turntable demonstration, a ribbon cutting and a surprise appearance by a member of the Purina Incredible Dog Team.

“With the generous support of Barbara and Andy Taylor, and Purina, the west side of our campus has undergone an incredible, much-needed transformation,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “The Broadhurst Pavilion is now a state-of-the-art rehearsal, performance and gathering space that will allow artists boundless tools to create and special events to shine. Its neighbor, the Purina Plaza, is the intersection of art and nature that makes for the perfect preshow area for friends, family and community members to gather before catching a Muny show.”

“Allison gave us a first-hand look at the immense effort and time it takes to put on a Muny production. After her wonderful experience as a Muny Kid and Teen, we knew we wanted to honor her through The Muny’s Second Century Capital Campaign,” said Barbara and Andrew Taylor. “We are thrilled to see the immeasurable creativity this renovated rehearsal space will provide for future generations of Muny performers.”

“The Muny is such an iconic part of this city, and as a fellow institution that has called St. Louis home for more than 100 years, we’re thrilled to be part of the exciting updates and renovations to this civic treasure,” said Joe Sivewright, Chairman of Nestlé Purina PetCare. “We can’t wait to enjoy the new Purina Plaza with our families and friends, as well as the rest of the Muny’s patrons before the great performances to come this season and beyond.”

To give, or for more information regarding The Muny’s Second Century Capital Campaign, please visit muny.org/secondcentury.

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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 world-class musicals each year and welcome over 350,000 theatregoers over our summer season. Celebrating 103 seasons in St. Louis, The Muny remains one of the premier institutions in musical theatre.

For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org

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

Coleman discusses upcoming 103rd season and the challenges ahead

By Lynn Venhaus
Kwofe Coleman, who started at The Muny as a seasonal employee when he was 16, will become the theatre’s next president and CEO, succeeding Denny Reagan, who is retiring after 52 years.

Coleman begins the new position on Jan. 1, 2022. He is currently The Muny’s managing director, overseeing the organization, financial and business affairs. He will assume the role with more than a decade of extensive theatre management experience.

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead The Muny and serve a community that I love,” Coleman said. “The unparalleled history, remarkable resources and aspirational spirit that have yielded a century of success for The Muny are our foundation as we begin our second century.”

The Muny Board of Directors announced the decision Friday.

One of the premier musical theaters in the U.S., the 103-year-old St. Louis venue traditionally welcomes more than 350,000 patrons over its nine-week season in the nation’s largest and oldest outdoor theatre in Forest Park.

The opportunity to mold The Muny’s future is not one Coleman, 38, takes lightly.

“With great excitement, I look toward the future of a cultural institution that will take intentional steps to broaden and evolve our identity and relationships through both our art and our investment in this community,” he said.

He has been preparing for this opportunity for many years.

“It’s been a 22-year job interview,” he said. “The opportunities I have had to work in different departments and gain the necessary experience in a community I care about has motivated me to want to figure out our next chapter. ‘What else can I do?’ We have an opportunity to define what a cultural institution is. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Coleman said he is eager to get to work.

“I have a lot of respect for what the people do here. I’m honored for this moment, and I’m so excited to do the work,” he said.

Coleman’s promotion has been met with local and national praise, with both the board chairman and retiring president describing it as a “perfect” choice.

“Thanks to Denny’s leadership, and the diligent stewarding of the selection process by the executive committee and full board, the perfect candidate has been chosen,” Muny Board Chairman James S. Turley said.

Reagan, who has been with The Muny since 1968, has served as president and CEO since 1991. He announced plans to retire in December.

He and Coleman have worked extensively alongside each other. In recent years, they have stood together near stage left, greeting patrons before each of the seven shows on summer evenings.

And like Reagan, Coleman started working at the Muny as a summer job when he was in high school. He was an usher, handing out programs and helping with patrons’ needs.

“Kwofe is a remarkably gifted leader who understands the institution at its core, and more importantly, its commitment to the St. Louis community,” Reagan said. “He will ensure The Muny’s future remains bright while offering a new perspective on how to lead our beloved theatre into its next century. Without question, he is the perfect choice.”

“Undoubtedly, Kwofe will ensure The Muny continues its commitment to accessibility, regardless of physical or socioeconomic limitations, while expanding the vital role we fill in our community,” said Turley, who is also the Second Century Campaign chairman.

Dave Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, the nation’s largest black-owned company, said Coleman was a national and local leader of rare passion and commitment for serving young people.

“His record reflects an accomplished innovator who is making education and training increasingly accessible for historically underserved communities through schools and the arts,” Steward said.

“From the Gospel of Mark we learn, ‘Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant,’ and I am confident that Kwofe will lead with faith and humility. The Steward family, along with World Wide Technology, salute The Muny on choosing Kwofe as their next leader,” said Steward, a Muny board member.

World Wide Technology and the Steward Family Foundation became the first overall season sponsor in the history of The Muny in 2014. They were to be the 2020 Season Presenting Sponsor but instead continued as the online season presenting sponsor with a leadership gift.

Coleman is recognized both locally and nationally as a strong force in theatre operations and currently serves as the president-elect of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

 Betsy King, NAMT executive director, noticed the symmetry of Reagan, a former president, passing the torch to Coleman.

“I can say with both excitement and confidence that Kwofe will be a charismatic, insightful leader for The Muny. He will respect the past while also moving the organization into a strong, vibrant future. The Muny is in excellent hands!” she said.

Coleman was a 2018 Fellowship advisor for the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.

“The Muny has enjoyed a remarkably stable and strong leadership that has allowed the organization to move from strength to strength. Appointing Kwofe Coleman as the new president and CEO ensures leadership continuity. Kwofe brings his own insights and talents to the position and will lead The Muny to even greater heights in the years to come,” said Michael Kaiser, DeVos Institute of Arts Management chairman and Kennedy Center president emeritus.

Photo in St. Louis American. Kwofe Coleman and Dennis Reagan backstage at The Muny

103rd Season

Because of the public health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 102nd season was cancelled, and the line-up was transferred to the 2021 season. Even though season ticket sales were announced in March, the current health landscape, best practices and all available information must indicate that a season is possible.

A final decision will be made next month, Coleman said.

“We’re eager to come back, to gather and have the shows, but we have to be safe and be cleared to do so by the health department and the labor unions,” he said. “We’re looking at every angle. We might have to have a slightly reduced season, a socially distanced scenario. We’ll do something. How we will do it has to be figured out.”

Coleman said meetings continue to take place, consulting with the city and medical experts on the COVID-19 regional numbers and mitigation efforts. He said they have watched what the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and other local institutions have done in their altered re-openings.

“We’ve had a lot of great conversations. We’re only going to be together again by working together,” he said.

The upcoming season, announced in December, is to start later in July and then run through September, a shift from the usual June to August schedule, “should conditions allow.”

The seven shows are: 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). Three – Sweeney Todd, Smokey Joe’s Café and On Your Feet – are Muny premieres.

In the meantime, the activities at #1 Muny Drive continue. The stage is being installed, construction is on track and preparations to return are underway.

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 Muny’s aging 11.5-acre campus needs upkeep and maintenance.

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.

The first two phases focused on rebuilding the state-of-the-art James S. McDonnell stage

Summer of 2020

The Muny announced in May that a modified season of 5, not 7, shows would take place beginning in July only if local health experts and officials deemed it safe, but on June 8, the decision was made not to move forward.

After that sad news, the Muny pivoted to an online season, a first in its 102-year history. They aired the live Muny Magic concerts at The Sheldon, never before made available to the public, and created a new series, “The Muny 2020 Summer Variety Hour Live!” This one-of-a-kind, free online endeavor was packed with performances by Muny artists across the country and dancers performing outside on the grounds.

Because of the online season, The Muny was able to employ several members of its typical summer staff, including trades people, performers, artists and musicians.

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.

“While this season was anything but ordinary, the support from our viewers has been nothing short of extraordinary,” Reagan said.

“My heart was transported back to so many magical summer nights past,” said Mike Isaacson, artistic director and executive producer of The Muny.

“I am so grateful to everyone in the Muny family who worked on and created these 10 streams,” Isaacson said. “It was a remarkable collaboration in so many ways, and in this really challenging time, these shows allowed us to create, to celebrate and to be together. We’re all very grateful.”

The Muny 2018. Photo by Lynn Venhaus

Coleman’s biography

Coleman joined The Muny full time in 2008 as a staff accountant, helping to manage the finances, accounting and payroll for its multimillion-dollar annual budget.

In the decade preceding it, he performed a variety of roles, including house manager.

In 2011, Coleman formed The Muny’s first digital communications department, reconstructing its internet presence and social media identity while also dramatically increasing the theatre’s internet sales stream, national presence and forming connections with nextgeneration audiences.

He was promoted to director of marketing and communications in 2014, where he managed branding and marketing efforts through its 2018 centennial season. During this time, Coleman was also key in the creation of both The Muny’s Second Century Strategic Plan and the $100 million Second Century Capital Campaign.

Following the 2018 season, Coleman was named The Muny’s managing director, responsible for managing the business functions while working with Isaacson, to embrace and articulate the artistic and institutional vision.

In St. Louis, he is an active contributor, serving on the St. Louis University High School Board of Trustees, Cor Jesu Academy Advisory Council, Common Circles Advisory Council and as a proud founding board member of Atlas School.

Coleman is an alumnus of St. Louis University High School, Class of 2001, and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Emory University in Atlanta.

He is a first-generation American. His parents migrated here from the Republic of Ghana in the mid-1970s and settled in Bellefontaine Neighbors. He has two sisters, both doctors, who attended Harvard and Duke universities, and locally, Cor Jesu Academy. He said his parents prized education and his father worked side jobs to send his children to private schools.

Coleman said his parents appreciated the arts and culture, and that was handed down to their three children, to make sure they were well-rounded.

“Art was natural to me and I appreciated it,” Coleman said.

He also serves on the board of directors for the Saint Louis Club, as well as other various social service organizations. During the 2020 holiday season, Coleman served as executive producer for “A New Holiday,” a short film musical set in St. Louis created by LIFE Creative Group.

He is a 2015 recipient of the St. Louis American’s Salute to Young Leaders Award and was named to the 2020 St. Louis Business Journal 40 under 40.

For more information about The Muny, visit www.muny.org.

Season 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 to the public.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
You go, girls! Local singer-actors get national attention, and the St. Louis-produced Broadway musical “The Prom” made Thanksgiving Parade television history.
BREAKING OUT: We have a talented trio of local ladies who are living their dreams right now.
Lexi Krekorian, 27, of Waterloo, Ill., is one of the nine struggling musicians featured on the Netflix reality series, “Westside,” now available. She goes by the stage name, Alexandra Kay, and has released her first single, “You Think You Know Someone,” and several music videos of songs on the “Westside” soundtrack. She started out in school and community theater, and is chasing her dream in L.A. Here is the feature I wrote for the Belleville News-Democrat about her rising star.
https://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article221600685.html
Kennedy Holmes of Florissant, the John Burroughs student and Muny Kid who is wowing the nation as a contestant on “The Voice,” made it through to the Top 11 Live Playoffs on Nov. 20. She sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” and is on Jennifer Hudson’s team, headed for the Top 10 showdown Nov. 26. Here is her Top 11 performance:
https://www.nbc.com/the-voice/video/kennedy-holmes-wind-beneath-my-wings/3832852
Thirteen proved to be lucky for Kennedy, as she was not among the 12 eliminated from the Top 24 Live Playoffs in Episode 13. She sang Beyonce’s “Halo.” “The Voice” is on Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC, with live voting the first night and results the second night. She is 13.
Meadow Nguy, providedMeadow Nguy, 23, of O’Fallon, Ill., performed in two musicals at Stray Dog Theatre (Marta in “Spring Awakening” in 2012 and the female lead in the original musical “Spellbound” in 2015), and in community and school theater. She guest-starred on the Nov. 18 episode of “Madam Secretary” called “Baby Steps,” as a Southeast Asia surrogate caught up in a human trafficking imbroglio . She made her crime-drama debut in ‘The Blacklist” earlier this year. Both shows available on demand. Here is the news article I wrote for the Belleville News-Democrat:
https://www.bnd.com/news/local/article221829910.html

***ATTABOY: Congratulations to Cory Finley, who scored a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay for his “Thoroughbreds.” The annual awards, held since 1984, honor independent filmmakers working with small budgets. The awards are always announced the day before the Oscars, and this year, it will be Saturday, Feb. 23.
Focus Features photoIn fall 2017, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio presented Finley’s play, “The Feast.” A John Burroughs School grad, Finley’s movie opened nationwide in March after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It played the St. Louis International Film Festival in 2017.
Olivia Cooke (“Ready Player One,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”) and Anya Taylor-Joy (“Split,” “The Witch”) play upper-class Connecticut teenagers who rekindle their unlikely friendship and hatch a plan to solve both of their problems — no matter what the cost. It’s the last film of Anton Yelchin.                                                                    Finley, who grew up in Clayton, is based in New York City. He is a member of the Obie-winning Youngblood playwrights group at Ensemble Studio Theater, has received a commission from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation for playwrighting, and was the inaugural recipient of the Gurney Playwrights Fund for his play, “The Feast,” at The Flea Theater. Check out www.thoroughbredsmovie.com
***STANDING O’s: Standing ovation for stand-up guy, Kwofe Coleman, who started as an usher at the Muny the summer of 1998, and now has been named managing director! He has served as Director of Marketing and Communications since 2013.
Kudos to the Cinema St. Louis team on their record-setting attendance of 28,723 at this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival Nov. 1 – 11. SLIFF screened 413 films, including 88 narrative features, 77 documentary features, and 248 shorts. Local actors are often seen in the regionally produced short films.

Cast members from “Disney’s Aladdin” presented “Sultan’s Soiree,” an exclusive cocktail reception, Nov 18 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Guests mingled while enjoying cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, photo opportunities, live entertainment and karaoke. To learn more, visit www.broadwaycares.org. Michael James Scott, a Webster University Conservatory graduate, is playing the Genie while Jonathan Weir, formerly of Belleville, is Jafar. “Aladdin” is at the Fox through Nov. 25.
***BIG SPLASH: The reviews are in, and it’s all raves for the new original musical comedy “The Prom,” which opened on Broadway Nov. 15 at the Longacre Theatre, following previews that began Oct. 23.
The New York Times said: “Makes you believe in musical comedy again.”
Variety said: “This original musical has laughs, tears and joy — not to mention jaw-dropping star-turns — in a clash-of-cultures hoot that earns a big Broadway corsage.”
Vanity Fair photoThe show has multiple local connections – Centralia, Ill., native Chad Beguelin is the co-book writer, with Bob Martin (co-creator of “The Drowsy Chaperone”) and lyricist, with music by Matthew Sklar. Beguelin wrote lyrics to Disney’s “Aladdin” and both he and Sklar were Tony-nominated for “The Wedding Singer.”
Some local producers include Jack Lane, executive director of Stages St. Louis; Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, Patty Gregory of Belleville, Terry Schnuck, Andrew S. Kuhlman of St. Louis and Fairview Heights native Joe Grandy. St. Louis performers Jack Sippel and Drew Reddington are part of the ensemble, and stars Beth Leavel and Christopher Sieber have appeared several times at The Muny. The Broadway cast also includes Brooks Ashmanskas (Tony nominee for ‘Something Rotten!”),
Casey Nicholaw, Tony winner for “The Book of Mormon,” directed and choreographed the show.
“The Prom” is about a canceled high school dance – a student is barred from bringing her girlfriend to the prom — and four fading Broadway stars who seize the opportunity to fight for justice — and a piece of the spotlight. Its tagline is “There’s no business like getting in other people’s business.”
***
NOBODY RAINED ON THEIR PARADE: “The Prom,” one of four musical acts in the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 22, made parade history with the first same-sex kiss televised live. As the number, “It’s Time to Dance,” closed, cast mates Isabelle McCalla and Caitlin Kinnunen embraced and kissed. The LGBTQ community cheered.
Here is that performance: https://youtu.be/VDZDLJjzJBI
Tony nominee Taylor Louderman of Bourbon, Mo., performed with the cast of “Mean Girls.” She plays Regina, the snotty leader of the cool girls’ pack. Taylor was last seen locally on the Muny stage in 2016’s “Aida” as Amneris.
Fun Fact: The dance company, Radio City Rockettes, was founded in St. Louis in 1925 by Russell Markert. First known as the “Missouri Rockets,” the precision chorus line has performed in Radio City Music Hall since 1932.
***HANNUKAH HULLABALOO: The eighth annual Brothers Lazaroff show to benefit Metro Theater Company will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at The Grandel Theatre, and all ages welcome.
The show will feature Rabbi James Stone Goodman and the Eight Nights Orchestra, DJ Boogieman, tributes to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and more! As always, free latkes will be fried on-stage! Food vendors will include Taco Buddha, The Dark Room and STL-Style will be selling their St. Louis-inspired apparel.
***AROUND TOWN: Legendary Wilco founder and Belleville native Jeff Tweedy took to The Pageant stage with Jon Hamm Nov. 17 to discuss his storied career. The book tour stop was sold-out.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch photoThe Grammy-winning singer-songwriter’s memoir “Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back”): Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc.,” features stories about his childhood, putting Uncle Tupelo together, and recollections about St. Louis record store, rock clubs and live-music scene during his formative years.
Now based in Chicago, Tweedy can be spotted in the indie movie “Hearts Beat Loud” as a customer, in what else, a record store.
Playwright Vladimir Zelevinsky was in town for the opening weekend of West End Players Guild “The Great Seduction,” and graciously spoke to Tina Farmer of KDHX and I about his interesting life and writing process.
 
Zelevinsky also wrote “Manifest Destiny,” performed at WEPG in 2016, which was nominated for Best Ensemble by the St. Louis Theater Circle.
***SANTA’S COMING! I KNOW HIM: With the holiday essential film “Elf” as its next movies-for-foodies event, Tenacious Eats returns to the St. Louis Banquet Center in Holly Hills, at 5700 Leona Street, on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Guests will feast on five courses and have cocktails themed to the movie, and the event also includes contests and live music. Chef Liz Schuster has left West End Grill and Pub to devote more time to her cinema-and-theme-dining experience – and Tenacious Eats is known for its “full-contact dining experiences.” Tickets are on sale now at BrownPaperTickets.com.
***GO SEE A PLAY POLL: Ah, Church Ladies and Christmas Pageants are customary fixtures during the holiday season, so the folks behind the Lutheran laugh-apalooza, “Church Basement Ladies: Away in a Basement” have returned with a warm, sentimental and uproarious show.
Now playing at The Playhouse @ Westport through Jan. 6, this is a perfect show to take your mom or grandma to – and you can win two free tickets to the show if you enter our drawing.
Select a show from the list below to answer our question: “What is your favorite holiday-themed play or musical?”
 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Story
Elf
Inspecting Carol
It’s a Wonderful Life
White Christmas
And send it via email, along with your name, cell phone and email address by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 25, to [email protected] and you will be entered in a drawing. Winner will receive 2 tickets to an upcoming show.
In our last “Go See a Play” poll, Graham Emmons of St. Louis won two tickets to Rebel and Misfits’ “Macbeth: Come Like Shadows.” The survey’s response to best mystery play landed the 1952 classic “Dial M for Murder” by Frederick Knott op top, with “Wait Until Dark” – another Frederick Knott play from 1966 — a close second.
***FOSSE, VERDON AND ALL THAT JAZZ: The next show-biz limited series for FX will be “Fosse/Verdon” in 2019, about the legendary Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse and his professional and personal relationship with dancer Gwen Verdon.
Oscar winner Sam Rockwell is cast as Fosse while Oscar nominee Michelle Williams will be Verdon, returning to the network 20 years after “Dawson’s Creek.”
The cast features St. Louis native Norbert Leo Butz as writer Paddy Chayefsky, Margaret Quall as Ann Reinking and Nate Corddry as Neil Simon.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is executive-producing the eight episodes and “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler is creating the dance.
***WHISTLING A HAPPY TUNE: The lavish acclaimed Tony-winning revival, “The King and I,” will be shown two nights at the Plaza Frontenac Cinema, on Nov 29 and Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical filmed during its run at the London Palladium, June 21 to Sept. 29 and features more than 50 performers.
Kelli O’Hara reprised her Tony Award-winning performance and Tony and Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe played The King again. Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles returned as Lady Thiang and West End “Aladdin” star Dean John Wilson and Na-Young Jeon played Lun Tha and Tuptim. Director Bartlett Sher reunited the original creative team.
***TRIVIA TIME-OUT: With St. Louis performers making a name for themselves on the national stage, here’s a little flashback to the halcyon days of “American Idol,” the big-bang of reality competition singing shows.
1. Who is the only St. Louisan to make “American Idol” Top Ten Finalists?
2. What “American Idol” winner tried out in St. Louis one of the two times auditions were held here?
Answers (both Season 4):
Nikko Smith, born Osborne Earl Jr., son of Cardinal Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who wound up ninth overall in 2005. He had been voted off in the third round of the semi-finals, but the producers asked him back to take the place of Mario Vazquez, who left for “family reasons.”
Carrie Underwood, who drove up with her mom from the family farm in Checotah, Okla., in 2004, sang “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt.
Here’s that audition: https://youtu.be/P0j9NGV-Jm4
She just won CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, killed with a live awards show performance of “Love Wins” at six months’ pregnant, and has to date seven Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist in 2007, the only second country artist to win it.
St. Louis has hosted auditions for Seasons 4 and 11.
***WORD: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato
 
 

The Muny has announced the appointment of Kwofe Coleman as Managing Director. Coleman, who previously served as The Muny’s Marketing and Communications Director, will work with the President and CEO, Artistic Director, department heads, staff and community to support the larger vision of The Muny, maintaining a dynamic environment in keeping with The Muny’s mission while ensuring financial stability and growth.
“Kwofe is an incredibly talented individual who understands both the culture inside the institution and how The Muny interacts with the St. Louis community,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. “As we embark on our second century, it’s important to honor the past and just as important to ensure the future is sustainable and exciting. I am eager to see Kwofe step into this new role and continue the growth of The Muny’s mission.”

“I am both honored and thrilled by this opportunity to evolve my contribution to this incredible staff and institution as managing director,” said Coleman. “Having had the great fortune of working in various parts of this organization for its past 20 seasons, I have seen and participated in the remarkable spirit of collaboration and community that makes The Muny such a special place, on both sides of the footlights. I look forward to helping continue grow this great tradition well into our second century.”
Among his duties as the Managing Director, Coleman will take an active role in overseeing the organizational, financial and business affairs of The Muny, while embracing and articulating the artistic and institutional vision. This will include the development of annual budgets, determining income and expense assumptions, and overseeing those revenue and expenditures. In this position, he will also take a leadership role in developing new and expanded income streams and creating strategic initiatives to expand and deepen The Muny’s community engagement, educational and outreach efforts.
Coleman began his Muny career in 1998 as an usher and has served as the Director of
Marketing and Communications since 2013. Coleman has held several other positions at The
Muny including staff accountant, house manager and digital communications manager. In the
Director of Marketing and Communications position, Coleman directed the teams responsible
for all external communications, marketing campaigns and the development of strategies to
meet The Muny’s annual revenue budget.
He is currently part of The Muny’s Second Century
Committee, a combination of key staff and board members who together, drafted, confirmed
and are now implementing The Muny’s Second Century Strategic Plan.
He was a 2018 Fellowship Advisor for The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland and is an active member of the Board of Directors for the National Alliance of Musical Theatres.
He has also remained an active contributor to the St. Louis community, with local activities
including the advisory board for Common Circles and as a mentor for The Urban League’s Save
our Sons program among others. He is the recipient of the St. Louis American’s Salute to Young
Leaders Award.
The 2019 season schedule is: Guys and Dolls (June 10 – 16), Kinky Boots (June 19 – 25), 1776 (June 27 – July 3), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (July 8 – 16), Footloose (July 18 – 24), Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (July 27 – August 2) and Matilda (August 5 – 11).
World Wide Technology (WWT) and The Steward Family Foundation 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 2019 Season Presenting Sponsor.
Muny gift cards for the 101st season are now available online and at The Muny Box Office. For more information, visit muny.org or call (314) 361-1900.