Venue seen in 2007
|Former names||Municipal Theater of St. Louis (1917-19)|
|Address||1 Theatre Dr
St. Louis, MO 63112-1019
|Owner||Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis|
|Opened||June 5, 1917|
|Renovated||1923, 1930, 1935, 1997, 2004, 2014-15|
($220 thousand in 2016 dollars)
The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (commonly known as The Muny) is an amphitheatre located in St. Louis, Missouri. The theatre seats 11,000 people with approximately 1,500 free seats in the last nine rows that are available on a first come, first served basis.
The Muny seasons run every year from mid-June to mid-August. It is run by a not-for-profit organization. The current president and chief executive is Dennis M. Reagan. The current artistic director & executive producer is Mike Isaacson.
History of The Muny
In 1914, Luther Ely Smith began staging pageant-Masques on Art Hill in Forest Park. In 1916, a grassy area between two oak trees on the present site of The Muny was chosen for a production of As You Like It produced by Margaret Anglin and starring Sydney Greenstreet with a local cast of "1,000 St. Louis folk dancers and folk singers."
Soon after, the Convention Board of the St. Louis Advertising Club was looking for an entertainment feature for its thirteenth annual convention, which was to take place June 3, 1917. Mayor Henry Kiel, attorney Guy Golterman, and Parks Commissioner Nelson Cunliff stepped in and, in forty-nine days (not counting seven lost to rain), created the first municipally owned outdoor theatre in the United States. On June 5, 1917, the opera Aida was presented on what would become the Muny stage.
In 1919, the new theatre received a name: St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre, or "The Muny" for short. The first show under the Muny banner was Robin Hood, which opened on June 16, 1919, and featured Mayor Kiel as King Richard. Concerts were performed here prior to the opening of Riverport Amphitheatre in 1991.
In 1930, the stage was equipped with a turntable for performance purposes. It was reconstructed in 1997 due to dilapidation. In 1994, The Muny's Board of Directors founded the Muny Kids, a select group of performers between the ages of 7 to 13 who traveled around St. Louis performing, and in the summer gave preview shows prior to the production. In 1998, the Muny Teens group was formed for the same purpose, featuring teen performers between the ages of 14 to 18.
Current Season (2017) Shows
- Jesus Christ Superstar • June 12 – 18
- Disney’s The Little Mermaid • June 20 – 29
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum • July 5 – 11
- All Shook Up • July 13 – 19
- The Unsinkable Molly Brown • July 21 – 27
- A Chorus Line • July 29 – August 4
- Newsies • August 7 – 13
For a complete listing of all productions since the first season in 1919, see List of The Muny repertory.
A Muny production
The Muny produces all of its musicals (typically seven) in the season and operates only in the summer. During the winter, a full-time staff of fewer than twenty people prepare for the next summer season. During the season itself, the summer staff expands to include more than 500 people in various positions. All shows are rehearsed within the course of eleven days, with two technical rehearsals (one costumed, one not) being held in the two to three days before the show's opening. Shows run from Monday to Sunday, although there have been exceptions to this, particularly in recent years, when each season has had at least one production with an extended run.
Comparison to other outdoor theatres
The Muny website claims it is the "nation's oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre." There are numerous amphitheatres/outdoor theatres that have a larger capacity area; however, The Muny houses the largest number of seats. There is no lawn seating inside The Muny. In addition, The Muny is the largest to host only Broadway-style musical theatre.
For a list of other amphitheatres see: List of contemporary amphitheatres.
Celebrities at The Muny
Since its beginning, The Muny has featured hundreds of big names in theatre, television and film on its stage, drawing inevitably huge crowds.
A history of the celebrities who have performed at The Muny, including a cast listing, can be found on The Muny's website at muny.org
During one of the last productions each summer season, survey forms are handed out to audience members. On this survey, audience members are asked to select their top seven choices from a long list of show titles. The choices change each year, depending on which titles are available and what shows have not been produced for a number of years. The survey results contribute to (though are just one of many determining factors in deciding) show choices for upcoming seasons. In the past, The Muny chiefly operated on a five-year cycle in which a title could not be produced again until five seasons had passed. Over the past two decades, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street, West Side Story and The Wizard of Oz have been the most popular titles, each receiving four productions since 1990. The 2012 Muny season was announced in October 2011, a significant shift from the typical Muny practice of officially announcing the upcoming summer season in the preceding January or February of the same year.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
- Luther Ely Smith: Founder of a Memorial - nps.gov - Retrieve January 12, 2008
- "Our Historic Theatre", Muny, Retrieved January 12, 2008
- Bush O'Donnell Capital Partners, LLC: Principals: William H.T. (Bucky) Bush
- The Muny
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