By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor

A longtime Muny performer, Alex Prakken left his native St. Louis to grow his musical theater aspirations, but his heart is at home on the local stages that have meant so much to him.

Prakken will star alongside Mikaela Bennett in the eighth
installment of its off-season concert series, Muny Magic at The Sheldon, on
Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 5 and 6, at 7:30 p.m.

“The Muny is such a special place, not just for me, but for
many,” he said. “I always wanted to go to New York. And The Muny definitely
helped me to get to where I needed to be in singing, acting and dancing. And I
got to watch these phenomenal actors on that stage, work with them, and learn
from them.”
Prakken replaces Jason Gotay, who was cast as Che in the upcoming New York City
Encores! Production of “Evita” and had to withdraw. Gotay appeared as Prince
Topher in “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” as Prince Eric in “Disney’s
The Little Mermaid” and Jack in “Into the Woods” at The Muny.

“We’re so grateful to Alex for joining this always
joyous and magical night,” said Muny Artistic Director and Executive
Producer Mike Isaacson. “Alex thrilled audiences last season in 1776 and
his performance as Marius in Les Misérables remains a Muny favorite. I’m sure
he and Mikaela will make serious magic.”  

A former Muny Kid and Muny Teen, Prakken said he was
thrilled to return to the Muny as the Courier in “1776,” singing the signature
solo “Momma Look Sharp,” after an absence of six years.

“It was nice to be back for ‘1776,’” he said. “It’s such a
special song, such a special show. It really sticks with you.”

Alex Prakken as The Courier in “1776” at The Muny last season. Photo by Phillip Hamer. He had participated as the Courier in a concert version at
54 Below in New York City, which takes place every Fourth of July.

Prakken, a graduate of The John Burroughs School and
University of Michigan, was previously in a much heralded “Les Miserables” as
Maurius at the Muny in 2013.

“I’ll never forget that. I had never seen an audience so enamored
with a show,” he said. The audience leapt to its feet after “One Day More.”

“It was the perfect show for the Muny – on that big stage
with a big cast,” he said.

After that, he went on to the first national tour of
“Newsies” as Oscar Delancey and as Jack Kelly’s understudy as well as Davey’s,  stopping at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

“Playing the Fox was crazy. We spent a year playing in
really big houses, 2500-3000, but the Fox is practically double in size. It’s
the biggest one we played,” he said.

While growing up, The Fox was where he saw his first
touring shows.

“It was a shining beacon of theater, but I took it for
granted. It is a stunning theater, so freaking beautiful, big and cavernous.
Performing there, it really did feel majestic, very special,” he said.

He played Jack Kelly at La Mirada Playhouse in California,
and at the Paramount Theatre in Chicago. He has toured as Jesus in “Jesus
Christ Superstar” and as Roger in “Grease.”

Alex Prakken as Jack Kelly in “Newsies” at La Mirada PlayhouseNow living in New York City, Prakken said he’s been
fortunate to be working steadily, but enjoys returning home for a break around
the holidays. Since early May, “I’ve been going non-stop.”

His agent sends him out on auditions for things he may be
right for – “it’s about who they happen to be looking for,” he said. “It’s
often being at the right place at the right time. I’m starting to get noticed
by casting directors. It’s about knowing who they can trust.”

He and Bennett, who had never met before, were rehearsing
the week before the shows.

“She has a lovely voice, it gave me chills – really
spectacular,” he said.

Bennett played the title character in Rodger and
Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” last summer and is a graduate of The Juilliard
School, known for her work on stage and concert halls. She won a Lincoln Center
Award for Emerging Artists this year.

Her credits include Maria in “West Side Story” at the Lyric
Opera of Chicago and in concert performances at the BBC Proms, New York
Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Orchestra. She has appeared at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

She originated both the role of Norma in the off-Broadway
production of “Renascence” and the title role of Acquanetta at the Prototype
Festival.

Michael Baxter is directing the show and frequent Muny
music director Charlie Alterman is directing the music.
Prakken said they have come up with solos and duets to reflect their strengths,
the new season, Muny classics and shows they have been in around the country.

“What felt best for us,” he said. The timeless music of Leonard Bernstein, Harold Arlen, Jason Robert Brown and Rodgers and Hammerstein is among the selections. Bennett and Prakken will be accompanied by a trio: Charlie Alterman (music director and piano), Nick Savage (drums) and Vince Clark (bass).

The concert will feature Broadway hits including “If I Loved You” (“Carousel”), “How Could I Ever Know” (“The Secret Garden”), “One Second and A Million Miles” (“The Bridges of Madison County”) and a medley from “West Side Story.”

In addition to the performances, Isaacson will reveal the
line-up for the much-anticipated 2020 summer season, its 102nd.

“It’s a very exciting season next year,” Prakken said — while
not revealing anything.

“Mike is so supportive. There is a whole other level of
care at the Muny,” he said, noting that Isaacson comes to rehearsals, making
sure people have what they need to put on a good show.

“It’s just such a great place,” he said. “In St. Louis, it’s a cultural event. People come two and a half hours early to listen to music, watch the young people perform. I hope we can make a little bit of Muny Magic at the Sheldon. It’s really a knockout place.”

He has sung at the Sheldon before, too, for a senior recital.

“It was an awesome night,” he said. Muny Magic at The Sheldon is sponsored by The Kranzberg Arts Foundation.  The Sheldon is located at 3648 Washington Boulevard in St. Louis.

Tickets are available now and range from $25 to $50. For
more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.muny.org/munymagic or call
314-534-1111.

For more information about The Muny, visit muny.org

Missouri History Museum Kicks Off Closing Month of Muny Memories Exhibit with a World Record AttemptSt. Louis — The Missouri History Museum’s current special exhibit Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage closes on Sunday, June 2, 2019 and to commemorate the occasion, the Museum is inviting the public to participate in an attempt to set the record for the World’s Largest Modern Jazz Dance Class.On Saturday, May 4, 2019, more than 600 people will gather to shimmy, shake, and chasse their way into history during a dance lesson taught by Muny Artistic Associate and choreographer, Michael Baxter.“For the past 9 months our Muny Memories exhibit has taken visitors “backstage” to discover the history of the nation’s largest outdoor musical theatre,” said Tami Goldman, tourism and special projects manager for the Missouri Historical Society. “This is an exhibit closing like never before. We wanted to do something big to kick off the last month of the exhibit run and before the start of The Muny’s 101st season. What could be bigger than the World’s Largest Dance Class?”Dancers of all ages and abilities are invited to register for the class, which will be about 45 minutes in length and take place, rain or shine, on the lawn in front of the Missouri History Museum. Tickets are $7 per person and include a commemorative T-shirt. Participants must register in advance. Interested parties are encouraged to “bust a move” as the event is expected to sell out quickly.Event check-in begins at 7:30 am that day with the lesson starting at 9 am. Between check-in and the start of class, participants will have exclusive access to the Muny Memories exhibit.The World-Record Attempt at the Largest Dance Class is being held in partnership with The Muny. For more information or for event registration visit: mohistory.org/world-record.Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage is open June 9, 2018, through June 2, 2019, at the Missouri History Museum. Admission is free.The Muny’s 101st season begins June 10, 2019. For more information visit muny.org.

The Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage Exhibit now through June 2About Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage: The Muny celebrated its centennial season in 2018. To commemorate this milestone, another Forest Park Landmark is recreating 100 seasons of Muny magic. The Missouri History Museum shines a spotlight on the oldest and largest continuously operating outdoor-theatre in the United States in Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage. This 6,000-square-foot exhibit examines the history of The Muny through approximately 130 artifacts, including 10 costumes and 87 props from favorite Muny shows. Muny memories come to life through interactive media, oral histories from Muny stars and staff, and opportunities to learn a dance step or two