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.

By Lynn Venhaus
With the nostalgic glow of scrapbook memories, the toe-tapping and hummable “Smokey Joe’s Café” opened The Muny’s eagerly anticipated 103rd season.

In this spirited localized production of the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, the creative team imagined a soulful stroll down memory lane, intersecting a generation’s familiar soundtrack with Gaslight Square, one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods.

And just like that, the U.S.’s oldest and largest outdoor theater demonstrated why it’s an essential part of St. Louis summers.

It had been over 700 days since we were last gathered under the stars in Forest Park – at “Matilda,” to be exact, which ran Aug. 5-11, 2019.

Nobody does what the Muny does, and did we miss it! On Monday, warm-and-fuzzy feelings energized the crowd of 5,956, who collectively exhaled and shared a glorious moment, sprinkled with pixie dust, during a pleasant July evening.

“You’re here. You made it through!” exclaimed Mike Isaacson, executive producer and artistic director, with palpable joy.

One glance at that expansive stage and we were home.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

The impressive scenic design by Edward E. Haynes Jr., who was responsible for the bright and playful fantasy world of “The Wiz” in 2019, included realistic facades of Crystal Palace, Jack Carl’s 2¢ Plain (a New York-style deli), Annadel’s Olde-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Smokey Joe’s Grecian Terrace and a Sinclair service station built into the streetscape.

That bygone-era theme continued in Kevan Loney’s video design and Rob Denton’s lighting design, which bathed the nightclub scenes in neon and stardust.

In its heyday, Gaslight Square was the entertainment district in St. Louis – located between Olive and Boyle in the eastern portion of the Central West End. Attracting bohemians, hipsters and the well-heeled, it was known for comedy, dining and dancing. Such rising stars as Barbra Streisand, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen and The Smothers Brothers appeared in venues there. By the late ‘60s, urban decay took over and people were flocking to the suburbs.

Astute observers will be able to pick out “Easter eggs,” those clever nuggets from the past that mean something to fans — and a major find is shopping bags with the Stix, Baer and Fuller logo. There’s a Sealtest Dairy ad on a back cover – and more blasts from the past.

Never underestimate the emotional connection shared by a live audience, listening to a talented mix of performers sing their hearts out.

As we are all aware of how a global coronavirus pandemic disrupted our lives during the past 16 months, The Muny had been forced to cancel its 102nd season in 2020 – for the first-time ever – and moved five shows to this year, which received the green light when it was deemed safe to do so. Isaacson noted that the performers hadn’t been able to “do what they do” either.

Enter an eclectic cast of nine (five guys, four women), who could be classified as “acting singers” – and their strong interpretations created easily identifiable vignettes during musical numbers. All but three were making their Muny debut.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

Robust ovations began early, even before they harmonized in the first number “Neighborhood,” and continued through the enduring catalogue of prolific lyricist Jerry Leiber and composer Mike Stoller, for a total of 39 songs, mostly hits from the 1950s and 1960s.

Mutual fans of rhythm-and-blues, Leiber and Stoller collaborated on a pop-rock sound known as “crossover” music back in the day. Their catchy melodies and tender ballads are thread together without a storyline or a chronological order.

From the dance party that is “Baby, that is Rock and Roll” to the classic Drifters’ chart-climber “On Broadway,” the songs vary in mood and tempo.

For the most part, they reflect a more innocent time, especially the amusing novelty songs heard on transistor radios — golden oldies “Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy” and “Love Potion No. 9.”

The assembled artists are a balanced group of pros with Broadway and national tour credits. By the time they united for a moving finale of “Stand by Me,” each performer had a knockout rendition.

First-timer Charl Brown. who was nominated for a Tony for his portrayal of Smokey Robinson in “Motown: The Musical,” showcased his smooth style and wide register with “There Goes My Baby” and “Young Blood.”

Immediately, the audience reacted to Christopher Sam’s rich, deep baritone, and his silky delivery wowed on “Spanish Harlem,” “Loving You” and “Dance with Me.” It’s easy to picture him as Mufasa in “The Lion King” on Broadway.

Photo by Phillip Hamer

Belter Tiffany Mann was sensational with “Fools Fall in Love” and “Hound Dog,” soaring with the gospel tinged “Saved,” which closed the first act with a flourish. Mann, quickly a favorite, was in “Be More Chill” and “Waitress” on Broadway.

The charismatic Mykal Kilgore brought the house down with a passionate “I (Who Have Nothing).” He was Annas in the Muny’s 2018 “Jesus Christ Superstar” and part of the NBC live television concert version earlier that Easter, and also in the network’s live “The Wiz.”  

Excellent dancers Hayley Podschun and Michael Campayno stood out with “Teach Me How to Shimmy.” Podschun, the dance captain, starred as Dainty June in the Muny’s 2018 “Gypsy,” and touched with her sweet solo “Falling.”

Campayno, who played opposite Tony winner Stephanie J. Block in “The Cher Show,” channeled his inner Elvis Presley to lead a peppy “Jailhouse Rock,” and charmed with “Ruby Baby.”

Podschun teamed with Nasia Thomas on a sassy “Trouble.” Thomas, who was in the 2015 “Hairspray” Muny ensemble and played Little Eva in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” on Broadway, sang “Don Juan” solo.

In a take-note debut, Dee Roscioli, a long-running Elphaba in “Wicked,” showed versatility in “I Keep Forgettin’” and “Pearl’s a Singer.”. The females all have frisky fun in “I’m a Woman.”

A Smokey Joe’s veteran, expressive Jason Veasey paired with Thomas on “You’re the Boss,” and lead the men in the burlesque homage, “Little Egypt.”

Mykal Gilmore sings “I (Who Have Nothing)” — Photo by Phillip Hamer



Many of the lyrics, being from a different time decades ago, feature sexual innuendo and set society roles. That means it is preferable for more mature audiences, not the wee ones.

Music Director Abdul Hamid Royal, a Tony Award nominee and NAACP Image Award winner for “Five Guys Named Moe,” nimbly conducted the skilled musicians placed on stage, initially behind a storefront and then in plain view during the second act.

Choreographer Josh Walden designed the movements based on original choreography by director Marcia Milgrom Dodge, with whom he has worked before. He wove in the buoyant Muny Teen youth ensemble with aplomb.

Dodge, a frequent Muny collaborator, had helmed “Smokey Joe’s Café” in Chicago, winning a Jefferson Award. Her vision here added oomph to the characters’ stories, and the ensemble seamlessly slipped into specific archetypes.

Costume designer Sully Ratke created characters’ backstories with a keen eye for vintage wardrobes, and the retro apparel captured their personas, especially snazzy hats. Their looks were accented with spot-on wig design by Kelley Jordan.

The sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge was crisp and did not have any noticeable issues.

At an estimated run time of two hours, 11 minutes, the Tony-nominated musical from 1995 zipped along in swift fashion.

Those who like a beefier story with their musical interludes will not be satisfied by the structure, but if you expect a concert-type experience, then you know what is in store.

What is surprising is how the elements all came together to elevate a conventional revue into a more layered theatrical experience. By expanding on what’s considered routine entertainment, the show — directed and performed with verve — is a cut above the ordinary.

Projecting genuine affection for the material and each other, this cheerful cast and splendid creative team achieved its shining moment. And voila! A community was reborn and welcomed back.

I will never take this tradition for granted ever again.

A Muny premiere, “Smokey Joe’s Café” opened July 26 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 1 at 8:15 p.m. on the outdoor stage in Forest Park. Emerson is the 2021 season sponsor.

For more information, visit www.muny.org. For tickets, visit muny.org or call (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.

Jack Carl’s vintage postcard of Gaslight Square.

Muny Photos 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

The Muny announced today 27 principal cast members for its 2021
season in Forest Park. Complete company casting will be announced throughout June and July.

After what will be a 23-month intermission, The Muny’s 103rd season will open with the Muny
premiere of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, followed by the beloved classic The Sound of Music. The season
continues with a newly reimagined Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Midwest regional and
Muny premiere of On Your Feet! and closes with Broadway’s longest-running American musical
Chicago. The Telsey Office is the official casting partner for The Muny.

“This is an amazing, thrilling, heart-stopping collection of talented artists,” said Muny Artistic
Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. “Our return this year in many ways has as much
significance as our 100th season. It means so much to so many. I can’t wait for these amazing
people to share their gifts.”

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE

The Songs of Leiber and Stoller
July 26 – August 1
Words and Music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Sponsored by Ameren

CHARL BROWN (Sonny) is thrilled to be appearing on The Muny stage for the first time and at
this historic moment for theatre. He was nominated for a Tony Award for the role of Smokey
Robinson in Motown: The Musical and reprised this role opening the West End production. This
winter, he is slated to appear as Brick in Virginia Stage’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Other Broadway/tour: Jersey Boys, Sister Act, Hair. Select regional: The Who’s Tommy (Denver
Center, Kennedy Center), Ever After (Paper Mill Playhouse), Johnny Baseball (American
Repertory Theater), Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Six Degrees of Separation, Jesus Christ Superstar, A
Chorus Line. Select television: FBI, Evil, Madam Secretary. When not in an acting role, Charl
tours the globe with his group, The Doowop Project, including venues such as The Blue Note
Beijing, Disney Symphony Hall, Ottawa Symphony, City Winery Nashville and many others
worldwide.

MICHAEL CAMPAYNO (Rod) originated the role of Rob Camilletti in The Cher Show and also
starred as Fiyero in the hit musical Wicked on Broadway. A Pittsburgh native and graduate of
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, he made his television debut as Rolf in the NBC live telecast
of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood and can be heard on the cast recording. His
other credits include Lancelot in Camelot starring Robert Sean Leonard and Barry Bostwick,
productions at Pittsburgh CLO, and in concert with the Phoenix Symphony and Carolina
Philharmonic. Television: The Other Two (HBOMAX), The Good Fight (CBS). Proud member of
SAG, AFTRA and AEA. Follow @michaelcampayno

MYKAL KILGORE (Little Walter) is an award-winning actor and a Grammy and NAACP Image
Award-nominated singer/songwriter. His debut album, A Man Born Black, is a gumbo of
American roots and modern feels that highlight his ability to go from Broadway showtune
storytelling to soul and jazz scatting to gospel. Mykal most recently starred in his online special,
Mykal Kilgore Live… on the Innanets! Broadway: Motown: The Musical and Hair. National tour:
The Book of Mormon. Other select credits: The Witch in Into the Woods at Barrington Stage
Company, The Who’s Tommy at The Kennedy Center, Songs for a New World at Encores! OffCenter.
TV/Film: NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, The Wiz Live! and Collateral
Beauty. Mykal has racked up 10M+ views on social media with his videos, including his viral
Reclaiming My Time video. #blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #loveoneanother
MYKALKILGORE.COM

TIFFANY MANN (Willie Mae) Broadway: Be More Chill, Waitress. Off-Broadway: Jerry Springer:
The Opera (Lucille Lortel Award), Invisible Thread, Cabin in the Sky. Other select theater:
Dreamgirls (Effie), Live from Lincoln Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert. TV: New Amsterdam and
Rise for NBC, Orange Is the New Black. @iamtiffanymann

HAYLEY PODSCHUN (Annette) Originally from Kansas, Hayley returns to The Muny after playing
Dainty June in the 2018 production of Gypsy. Broadway: Wicked (Glinda, national tour), Hello,
Dolly!; Something Rotten, Chaplin (Mildred Harris), Anything Goes, Pal Joey, Sunday in the Park
with George, Hairspray (Broadway, national tour) and The Sound of Music. Off-Broadway:
Freckleface Strawberry (Freckleface, original cast). Select regional credits: Holiday Inn (Linda
Mason, Paper Mill Playhouse), I Married an Angel (Anna Murphy, NY City Center Encores!), The
Royal Family of Broadway (Gwen, Barrington Stage, world premiere), Holiday Inn (Lila Dixon,
Goodspeed, world premiere) Crazy for You (Polly, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival), Peter Pan
(Peter Pan, Artpark), Legally Blonde (Elle Woods, Arvada Center). Film/TV: Hairspray (Tammy),
The Blacklist, Louie, Isn’t It Romantic and Hail, Caesar; You can also find Hayley on QVC as a
guest host for Zodiac Shoes. IG: @hayley_podschun or www.hayleypodschun.com for more!

CHRISTOPHER SAMS (Cornelius) is ecstatic to join The Muny and Marcia Milgrom Dodge in
turning up the summer heat with Leiber and Stoller’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Broadway credits
feature Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. National touring credits include The Lion King
(Ensemble, u/s Mufasa), The Color Purple (Ensemble/Grady/Buster), Ragtime (Coalhouse
Walker Jr.) and Rock of Ages (Ensemble/Ja’Keith). Became a proud AEA member doing Smokey
Joe’s Cafe with Ms. Dodge in 2016 and this is Chris’ third time rocking through the
neighborhood.

NASIA THOMAS (Pearl) was most recently seen as Cathy in Out of The Box Theatrics version of
The Last Five Years. In the fall, she can be seen as The Radio in the upcoming revival of Caroline,
or Change on Broadway. Most recently seen in Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the
Temptations on Broadway. Broadway: Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. National
tour: Beautiful. Regional: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations (Berkeley Rep,
Kennedy Center, Center Theatre Group, Mirvish Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (TUTS),
Hairspray, (Muny). BFA Musical Theatre, Elon ‘15, The Governors School for the Arts ‘11.
Member at DGRW Talent. IG: @nasiathomas.

JASON VEASEY (Doc) Jason is happy to be back in one of his favorite cities making his Muny
debut! Theatre credits include the Broadway and national touring companies of The Lion King,
the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop and a couple visits to Smokey Joe’s Cafe! He’s been at
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Denver Center and The
Public in New York. TV/Film credits include High Maintenance, Chicago Fire, Little Voice, Dash &
Lily, Flatbush Misdemeanors and I’m Not Him.


THE SOUND OF MUSIC
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

KATE ROCKWELL (Maria Rainer) is thrilled to be back at The Muny! Previous Muny credits
include Beauty and the Beast (Belle) and Tarzan (Jane). On Broadway, she recently starred as
the original Karen Smith in Mean Girls: The Musical (Drama Desk nomination). Her previous
Broadway dumb blondes include originating the role of Skylar in Bring It On: The Musical, Rock
of Ages, Hair and Legally Blonde. She’s been seen recently as Nina Bennett on Fox’s Almost
Family, High Maintenance, Deadbeat and Sex and the City: The Movie. Upcoming: Harlem on
Amazon. She released her debut solo album, Back To My Roots, in 2018 on Broadway Records,
and has performed her solo concert by the same name at Birdland Jazz Club, City Winery and
other venues in NYC. She is a WSET-certified wine lover and has the two cutest dogs on the
planet.

MICHAEL HAYDEN (Captain Georg von Trapp) Broadway: All My Sons, Festen, Henry IV,
Judgement at Nuremberg (Tony nomination), Cabaret, Carousel. Off-Broadway: The Lady from
Dubuque, Measure for Measure, Dessa Rose, Far East. London: Cabaret, Carousel (Olivier
nomination). Regional: Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, Henry V, Richard II, Merrily
We Roll Along. Film: Patient 001, Charming Billy (American Film Institute Best Actor Award). TV:
Evil, Elementary, Chicago Fire, Law & Order and Murder One.

BRYONHA MARIE PARHAM (The Mother Abbess) is thrilled to be making her Muny debut in her
home state! Broadway: Prince of Broadway, The Book of Mormon, After Midnight, The
Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, Ragtime. Off Broadway/NY: Promenade (NY City Center Encores!),
Candide (Carnegie Hall), Ragtime (Lincoln Center). National tour: Falsettos. World premieres:
Dave (Arena Stage), Prince of Broadway (Tokyo Theatre Orb). Concert: New York Philharmonic,
San Diego Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra (Bernstein’s Mass), Kansas City Symphony, 92nd
Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists series. Regional: The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (American Repertory
Theater), Ragtime (Kennedy Center), The Civil War (NETworks), Hair (Sacramento Music Circus),
Dreamgirls (Effie, North Shore), Little Shop of Horrors (Berkshire Theatre Group) and many
more! Television: The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!; Madam Secretary, Live from Lincoln
Center: Sweeney Todd in Concert (Beggar Woman) and Show Boat in Concert, 66th and 68th
Annual Tony Awards, The Today Show. Twitter/Instagram: @BryonhaMarie

ELIZABETH TEETER (Liesl von Trapp) is thrilled to return to the Muny stage after last being seen
off-Broadway as Lily in The Secret Life of Bees (Atlantic Theatre Company). Broadway: Betty in
The Crucible, Young Elizabeth in The Audience, starring Helen Mirren; and Jane Banks in the
closing company of Mary Poppins. Other NYC credits include workshops with Kathleen
Marshall, Anne Kauffman, Leigh Silverman, Rachel Brosnahan and more. Regional: The Muny,
Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Tennessee Williams Festival, Variety
Theatre. TV/Film: Leaving (short film), The Last O.G. (TBS). You can also see her this August as
Laura in The Glass Menagerie with the Tennessee Williams Festival. Eleven years ago, she
played one of the tiniest von Trapp children at The Muny and is honored for this full circle
moment. @elizabethteeterofficial

ANDREW ALSTAT (Rolf Gruber) is thrilled to be returning to The Muny for his second season!
Originally from Pomona, Illinois, Andrew is a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati
College-Conservatory of Music, where he received his BFA in Musical Theatre. He was last seen
on the Muny stage as Chuck Cranston in Footloose. Recent credits: The Rocky Horror Show
(Rocky) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Frederick) for CCM, Newsies (Albert, Wagon Wheel
Center for the Arts), Legally Blonde (Emmett) and Anything Goes (Billy Crocker) for McLeod
Summer Playhouse. @a_alstat. @andrewalstat_photography

JENNY POWERS (Elsa Schraeder) is thrilled to be back at the Muny where her credits include
1776 (Abigail Adams, 2019), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Monotony Singer/Hildy, 2018),
Mamma Mia! (Tanya, 2016); The Addams Family (Morticia Addams, 2014), Mary Poppins (Mary
Poppins, 2013), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Milly, 2011), Camelot (Guenevere, 2009) and
Oliver! (Nancy, 2006). Broadway: Rizzo in Grease and Meg in Little Women. Theatre highlights:
Marie Dancing Still (5th Avenue Theatre), Lois Lane in It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman (NY
City Center Encores!), Donnybrook! (Irish Rep, Drama Desk nomination); Dangerous Beauty
(Pasadena Playhouse), Happiness (Lincoln Center), Secondhand Lions (5th Avenue) and Little
Dancer (Kennedy Center). TV: The Mysteries of Laura, Blue Bloods, Power, The Good Wife,
Mercy, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Nurse Jackie, All My Children. She is also the co- founder
of The Link Theatre Company thelinktheatre.org jenny-powers.com

JOHN SCHERER (Max Detweiler) has appeared at The Muny in Cinderella, Kinky Boots, Annie,
Young Frankenstein, The Buddy Holly Story, The Addams Family, Spamalot and Mame. He has
appeared on Broadway in LoveMusik, By Jeeves and Sunset Boulevard. Off-Broadway credits
include Dames at Sea, Olympus on My Mind and Preppies. Other NY credits include The Most
Happy Fella (NY City Opera) and Out of This World (NY City Center Encores!). He has toured
nationally in 42nd Street, Cats, Mame, Hello, Dolly! and White Christmas. His regional credits
include Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Kennedy Center,
Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse and many others. Television credits include Blue
Bloods, The Shield, Crossing Jordan, Law & Order (SVU and CI) and Titus. He is originally from
Buffalo, NY and is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

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

Kendra Kassebaum

KENDRA KASSEBAUM (Milly Bradon) Muny: Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide, 2019). On
Broadway, Kendra originated the role of Janice in the Tony-nominated production of Come
From Away as well as Sam in Leap of Faith. She played Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, in San
Francisco and on the first national tour (Helen Hayes nomination). Other New York: The
Receptionist (Manhattan Theatre Club) and the Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated
production of Assassins. Kendra made her Broadway debut in Rent. For Roundabout Theatre,
she performed the role of Petra in A Little Night Music, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha
Richardson. Kassebaum’s regional appearances include Actors Theatre of Louisville, The 5th
Avenue Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Ordway, Florida Stage and her hometown St.
Louis Muny. Film: The Other Woman (with Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow).

EDWARD WATTS (Adam Pontipee) is delighted to make his post-pandemic debut at The Muny!
Broadway: Robert/David in Scandalous. Other New York: Superman (It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane…
It’s Superman), El Gallo (The Fantasticks), Joe (The Most Happy Fella) and Steve (Show Boa
Tours: The Book of Mormon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Les Misérables and The Little
Mermaid. Selected regional: The Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Old
Globe), Harold Hill in The Music Man (Goodspeed Musicals), Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday
(Guthrie Theater), Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music (Michigan Opera Theatre), Thomas
Jefferson in 1776 (Goodspeed) and Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing… Forum (Shakespeare
Theatre Company, Helen Hayes nomination). Television: NCIS: New Orleans, Quantico, The
Sopranos, Rescue Me. Proud member of AEA. EdwardWatts.net.


ON YOUR FEET!
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


OMAR LOPEZ-CEPERO (Emilio) is deeply humbled to return to the Muny stage after appearing
in Paint Your Wagon (Armando) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Prior to the pandemic
shutdown, he was seen in the off-Broadway premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown
(Vincenzo). Broadway: On Your Feet! and American Idiot. Off-Broadway: The Public Theater’s
Central Park concert of The Capeman. Regional/tour credits: The Flamingo Kid (Alejandro) at
Hartford Stage, Guys and Dolls (Sky Masterson) at Theatre Under The Stars, Evita as Che
(national tour, Fulton Theatre) and as Peron (Bay Street Theater). TV credits: Blue Bloods (CBS),
The Detour (TBS), Vegas (CBS). He is a graduate of The University of Miami Frost School of
Music with a degree in Vocal Performance. Alongside his performing career, he has developed
an acting and voice studio where he coaches professional artists and students to maximize their
potential. www.omarlopezcepero.com @omarlopezcepero

NATASCIA DIAZ (Gloria Fajardo) Most widely recognized for the documentary Every Little Step,
this three-time Helen Hayes Award-winner returns to The Muny after her “breathtaking” turn
as Velma Kelly in Chicago, and her award-winning turn as Anita in West Side Story. Broadway:
Seussical (Bird Girl), Man of La Mancha (Antonia, u/s Aldonza). Off-Broadway: Tick,
Tick…Boom!, Jacques Brel…; Washington DC: Petra (A Little Night Music) Rosalie (Carnival),
Aurora (Kiss of the Spider Woman). Her first Helen Hayes happened in a tie with Chita Rivera for
her transformation into Scottish rocker Monica in Rooms, and her second for her performance
in Brel. Other favorites: Jenny (The Threepenny Opera), Betty 3, Collective Rage (Woolly
Mammoth), Mariana (Measure for Measure), Savage (Savage in Limbo), Rafaella (Grand Hotel,
NY City Center Encores!) and winning her third award for her “obsessively watchable,
gorgeously sung” (Washington Post) role in a “career-defining performance” (BroadwayWorld)
as Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion. TV: FBI IG:@LadyDiaz777

ALMA CUERVO (Consuelo) Broadway: On Your Feet!; Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret, Titanic,
The Heidi Chronicles, Quilters, Is There Life After High School?; Censored Scenes from King Kong
and Bedroom Farce. She has toured nationally in Wicked, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, M. Butterfly
and Dancing at Lughnasa. Off-Broadway: Allegro (Classic Stage Company), Far From Heaven
(Playwrights Horizons) and Road Show (The Public). She received an OBIE for her performance
in Uncommon Women and Others and Philadelphia’s Barrymore Award for The Beauty Queen of
Leenane. Ms. Cuervo has worked extensively in regional theatre, most recently In the Heights at
Music Theatre Wichita and Yerma at Huntington Theatre. Film/Television: The Goldfinch, Bull,
Lisey’s Story, City on a Hill, Instinct, The Slap, and she was a regular on Norman Lear’s AKA
Pablo. She narrates many audiobooks and is a graduate of Tulane University and Yale School of
Drama.

LEE ZARRETT (Phil) Broadway: My Fair Lady, On Your Feet!; Hair, The 25th Annual Putnam
County Spelling Bee, Jane Eyre. National tours: Peter and the Starcatcher, Les Misérables. TV:
The Blacklist, High Fidelity, Gotham, Louie, Boardwalk Empire. Off-Broadway: NY City Center
Encores!, New Victory, Vineyard Theatre. Regional: Pittsburg CLO, La Jolla Playhouse.


CHICAGO
August 30 – September 5
Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Foss
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

SARAH BOWDEN (Roxie Hart) Originally from Australia, Sarah most recently played Velma Kelly
in Chicago at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre with Denis Jones directing and is beyond excited to be
working with Denis again on this dream show! USA highlights include Cherry Sundae in the first
national tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, playing Cassie in A Chorus Line in 2016 at
The Hollywood Bowl opposite Mario Lopez, and her first Muny production of Jerome Robbins’
Broadway in 2018. Sarah spent many years in Germany playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Anita in
West Side Story, Doralee in 9 to 5, Gloria in Flashdance and lastly, Esmeralda in Disney’s The
Hunchback of Notre Dame, with Scott Schwartz (director) and Chase Brock (choreographer).
INSTA: @sarahbowden.de

J. HARRISON GHEE (Velma Kelly) is honored to be returning to The Muny playing Velma Kelly.
Many thanks to family, friends, and his agency Nicolosi & Co. for continued love and support.
Broadway/International tour: Kinky Boots (Lola/Swing), Mrs. Doubtfire (Andre Mayem).
Regional: The Color Purple (Ensemble), The Sting (Johnny Hooker). Television: High
Maintenance (Charles), Raising Dion (Kwame). Industrial: Tokyo Disney Sea’s Big Band Beat,
Norwegian Cruise Line. Proud graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NY)
@jharrisonghee

EMILY SKINNER (Matron “Mama” Morton) Muny: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Breakfast at
Tiffany’s, Billy Elliot. Broadway: Side Show (Tony nomination, Drama League Award), The Cher
Show, Prince of Broadway, Jekyll & Hyde, The Full Monty, James Joyce’s The Dead, Dinner at
Eight (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Billy Elliot (BroadwayWorld Award). Off-Broadway:
Picnic (Drama Desk nomination), Jerry Springer: The Opera (Carnegie Hall), Fiorello!; No Strings,
Pardon My English, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (all for NY City Center Encores!). She has sung
leading roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, WPA Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Roundabout
Theatre Company, York Theatre, Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Regional: The
Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Long Wharf, Old Globe,
Goodspeed, Bucks County Playhouse, Virginia Rep, and many others. She has sung with
symphonies around the globe and her numerous recordings may be found at Amazon.com.
www.emily-skinner.com

JAMES T. LANE (Billy Flynn) West End: The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line (Palladium, revival).
Broadway: Kiss Me, Kate (Paul), King Kong, The Scottsboro Boys (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates),
Chicago and A Chorus Line (Richie). National tours: Jersey Boys, Cinderella, Fame. Regional:
Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely, Virginia Stage Company), Mary Poppins (Bert, Drury Lane
Theatre), The Wiz (Tin Man), Promenade, Grand Hotel and Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (all for
NY City Center Encores!), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Sebastian, The Muny), Broadway at
Music Circus, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater and Dallas Theater Center.
Concerts: Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, Ottawa Symphony and many more. James is
the creator of a one man show entitled Triple Threat: A Play That Moves and Sings. Look for
streaming information, booking, as well as performance dates at www.jamestlane.com. Mr.
Lane teaches music theatre dance when and wherever anyone will let him! Instagram:
@jamestlane www.jamestlane.com

ADAM HELLER (Amos Hart) Muny: Gypsy, 1776. Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: Follies, Brighton
Beach Memoirs. Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Elf, Baby, It’s You; Caroline, or Change; A Class
Act, Victor/Victoria; Les Misérables. National tours: Titanic, Falsettos. Off-Broadway: Popcorn
Falls (Davenport), A Letter to Harvey Milk (Theater Row), Peer Gynt (CSC), Wings (Second
Stage), Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn and The Immigrant (New World Stages),
Merrily We Roll Along (York). Regional: The Flamingo Kid (Hartford Stage), Fiddler on the Roof
(Connecticut Critics Circle Award) and Rags (Goodspeed), The Chosen (Barrington Stage), My
Name is Asher Lev (Arden), Merrily We Roll Along (Kennedy Center). TV: The Bite, FBI: Most
Wanted; Ray Donovan, The Good Fight, Elementary, Unforgettable, The Americans, The
Sopranos, Law & Order (all), Oz, Submissions Only. Graduate: NYU/Tisch.

ALI EWOLDT (Mary Sunshine) is beyond thrilled to return to The Muny. She appeared here as
Philia in Forum, Martha Jefferson in 1776 and Maria in West Side Story. Other credits include
Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Misérables
(Broadway, national tour), The King and I (Broadway, tour, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Maria in
West Side Story (national tour, international tour), Luisa in The Fantasticks (off-Broadway),
Fan/Mrs. Bonds in A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre) and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls
(Sacramento Music Circus). Concert/symphony work: Alice Tully Hall, The Town Hall, NY Pops at
Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, American Pops Orchestra, Kaohsiung Symphony and The
Boston Pops with Maestro Keith Lockhart. Her TV/Film credits include The Michael J. Fox Show,
Yield, Mia and The Cactus. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina
American and member of Actors’ Equity. @aliewoldt

Current season ticket holders for the 2021 season will receive their season tickets later this
month. New season subscriptions for the 2021 five-show season are currently available, with
single tickets becoming available July 12. Tickets can be purchased online at muny.org or by
phone by calling (314) 361-1900 ext 1550. Currently, the box office in Forest Park is closed for
walk-up service until July 5.

To stay connected virtually and to receive the latest updates, please follow The Muny on their
social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Emerson is proud to be The Muny’s 2021 Season Sponsor.

Kate Rockwell

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.

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

By Lynn Venhaus
Sometimes, we see magic happen under the stars in Forest Park. This summer, we saw a different kind of Muny Magic – but enchanted evenings nonetheless.

It took a global pandemic for the Muny to achieve its greatest magic trick ever – they transformed our isolation into a community through a live variety special.

And they did it with such hard work and passion. Using modern technology, incredibly creative professionals and tip-top talent from coast to coast, it was a huge undertaking, which was obvious to anyone who tuned in for even a fraction of an episode.

For the fifth Summer Variety Hour Live! on Monday, Aug. 17, the Muny supersized the presentation and it was a splashy grand finale, tugging on our heartstrings in a big but intimate way. So much genuine emotion in new works, in memories and archival footage that reminded us how special our outdoor theatre is, the largest and oldest one in the country.

Seeing Muny mainstay Beth Leavel perform her showstopper “Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy” (2018) with the view from the wings! My heart was bursting. Tari Kelly leading the ebullient “Forget About the Boy” in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” (2012) and one of the all-time great musical theater numbers, ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” from last year’s “Guys and Dolls,” with the surprise appearance by Kennedy Holmes to hit those high notes. I was grinning ear to ear. The Mission: Feel-Good was on!

Zoe Vonder Haar, Orville Mendoza and Kennedy Holmes in “Guys and Dolls” – Photo by Phillip Hamer

For five episodes, the Muny reinvigorated its treasure trove of tradition, 102 years strong, to provide virtual entertainment that filled the void of a cancelled season. The collaborative spirit on display was inspiring.

Let’s face it, the summer has been dismal, especially with rising coronavirus cases in our bi-state region. More things shut down and were postponed in a never-ending stream of disappointments in 2020. But as a gift to “the Muny family,” the management and creative teams conceived a way to connect us. We all felt it, whether tuning in on Monday or catching the rerun on Thursday from July 20 to Aug. 17 as the evening twilight faded.

For a brief shining moment, it seemed like old times. The 8:15 p.m. start was a constant to look forward to in an uncertain year during an unprecedented public health crisis. With Executive Producer and Artistic Director Mike Isaacson’s bold and unique concept, and his ability to attract the talent he did, each episode was a captivating mix of tempo and tone, under the direction of multi-talented Michael Baxter.

Colby Dezelick

What an emotional palette we experienced, touching on why we love the Muny, from veteran performer Colby Dezelick’s touching original song, “I Will Be Your Home” — with a behind-the-scenes video love letter dedicated to his Muny family, to sweet Jenny Powers describing her feelings about flying above the audience as Mary Poppins in 2013, and how the staff took such good care of her. Straight to the heart.

And while seeing up-and-coming talent do what they do best is always enjoyable, feeling their sheer joy in performing is blissful. Watching St. Louis native and Broadway performer Richard Riaz Yoder use his exceptional talents to dance “Broadway Melody” using the Muny as his canvas – tap-dancing for a time in sneakers! – was breathtaking.

So was jubilant Jack Sippel’s choreographed dance number, the cheery “You Can’t Stop the Beat!” from “Hairspray,” which was performed by 19 Muny alums and sung by Nasia Thomas, Muny vet and Broadway performer in “Beautiful,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and soon, the revival of “Caroline, or Change.”

In the 2017 production of “A Chorus Line,” director-choreographer Denis Jones used young versions of the dancers in certain scenes, to emphasize their dreams and drive. On Monday, they showed the wistful “At the Ballet” number, which was performed by Holly Ann Butler as Sheila, Bronwyn Tarboton as Maggie and Caley Crawford as Bebe, with little ballerinas in view.

As lump-in-the-throat as that song is, nothing can match the show’s curtain call for its spectacular finish, and they recreated it for The Muny Centennial Gala, complete with fireworks. Such a thrilling moment to revisit.

The energy, enthusiasm and talent of the Muny Teens and Kids each episode was another heart-tugger. Because six teens were graduating, they had a special senior sendoff: Michael Harp, Cate Phillips, Michael Lee Jr., Fiona Scott, Jack Deters and Caitlin Chau sang “Our Time” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along.” I have seen these kids grow up. Misty eyes.

“Worlds to change, and worlds to win Our turn, coming through.”

The Muny Kids’ adorable and confident youngsters mashed up “Come Alive” from the film “The Greatest Showman,” with songs by Oscar and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, with “A Little More Homework” from Jason Robert Brown’s “13.”

For comic relief, there was the fun “Munywood Squares” game show, good sports all, and jolly John Tartaglia reprising his Murray the Muny Raccoon schtick, making Isaacson laugh.

Mike Isaacson

Isaacson, who has been the visionary executive producer and artistic director since the 2012 season, named to the post in 2010, cares deeply about the Muny’s place in historic context and local lore, and with his Broadway experience, he’s able to give us quality casts, teams and a really dedicated staff.

Clearly wearing his heart on his sleeve as this summer’s host, he gave us something that we could enjoy on many levels and for many reasons. Isaacson has multiple Tony Awards and 24 Broadway shows and national tours to his credit. He makes things happen in a way that elevates the Muny in stature, boosting our civic pride, but also gains respect in the larger theatrical world. His reverence for the art form is obvious, and he has shown us, time and again, the possibilities of what the Muny can accomplish.

That connection that he spoke of, all the people who came together without hesitation, all the selfless devotion, a renewed sense of purpose – it felt very real and elicited a teary farewell.

I think, like “Field of Dreams,” Forest Park and the Muny are mystical places. After all, musical theatre is a constant in our lives, like baseball. We want to believe that in a time of everything turned upside down, of norms being shattered, that there exists a place we feel safe, happy, loved. That sharing theater and music brings us together like no other art form.

So, the Muny Variety Hour gave us the opportunity to be in the company of performers who love the Muny like it is a family, a home. That theme was repeated over and over. And that’s what we are craving in these anxious times.

And in Colby’s song: “When it’s dark, I’ll be the light.”

Beth Malone

Another almost spiritual song was the centuries-old tune and Muny season-ender tradition “Auld Lang Syne,” sung by Beth Malone, who accompanied herself on acoustic guitar. Beautiful and bittersweet.

The ties that bind us, recalling happy golden days of yore. “Meet Me in St. Louis” appeared again in the line-up – of course. Yes, it’s schmaltzy, but its inclusion of the 1904 World’s Fair, which has impacted our lives and region ever since those seven months, and the work preceding it, make it a nostalgic chestnut.

Married couple and Muny performers Erin Dilly and Stephen R. Buntrock sang a lovely duet, “You and I,” from their home. They appeared as Mr. and Mrs. Smith in the 2018 production, the Centennial season finale.

Maggie Kuntz, a Muny vet and two-time winner of the Best Actress Award from the St. Louis High School Musical Theatre Awards, sang the iconic “The Trolley Song” live from under the Culver Pavilion with polish and panache.

Dan De Luca and Emily Walton in “Meet Me in St. Louis” Photo by Phillip Hamer

And then in the sentimental sweet spot, they played “The Skinker’s Swamp” picnic scene featuring Emily Walton as Esther and Dan DeLuca as John Truitt. The video projection was The Palace of Fine Arts, now the St. Louis Art Museum, under construction in a muddy field.

How many times have we been in the shadow of our treasured landmarks?

The world was watching when the Louisiana Purchase Exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the U.S. expansion under Thomas Jefferson. More than 60 countries and 43 states participated from April 30 to Dec. 1 in Forest Park and nearby locations.

So, the Muny and Forest Park remain crown jewels that we cherish.

And the Summer Variety Hour Live! reinforced our past, present and future. I’ll meet you at the Muny next summer. Looking forward to greeting the Muny family once more. “Through the years, we’ll always be together, if the fates allow.”