- The Muny
name = The Muny
caption = Closing night August 15, 2007
address = 200
St. Louis, Missouri
designation = Outdoor Theatre
latitude = 38.640049
longitude = -90.280087
owner = Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (lease from city of St. Louis)
capacity = 11,000 [ [http://www.muny.org/cs_factsheet.html muny.org] ]
opened = June 5, 1917 (first performance in theatre)
June 16, 1919 (first performance via the Municipal Theatre Association) [ [http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/parks/forestpark/history/opera.html stlouis.missouri.org] ]
website = muny.org
The Muny, short for The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis, is an outdoor musical
amphitheatre, located in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri. The theater 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. [ [http://www.muny.org/content/view/88/95/] The Muny completed its 90th annual season in the summer of 2008 with more than 377,000 audience members attending. 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 executive producer is Paul Blake.
History of The Muny
Luther Ely Smithwho would be the "founder" of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorialbegan staging Pageant- Masques on Art Hill in Forest Park. [ [http://www.nps.gov/jeff/historyculture/upload/luther_ely_smith.pdf Luther Ely Smith: Founder of a Memorial - nps.gov - Retrieve January 12, 2008] ]
In 1916 a grassy area between two oak trees on the present site of the The Muny was chosen for a production of "
As You Like It" produced by Margaret Anglinand starring Sydney Greenstreetwith a local cast of "1,000 St. Louis folk dancers and folk singers." [ [http://www.muny.org/history.html Our Historic Theatre - muny.org - Retrieved January 12, 2008] ]
Soon after, the Convention Board of the St. Louis Advertising Club found itself without any 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 America. On June 5, 1917the opera " Aida" was presented on what would be the Muny stage.
In 1919, the new theatre received a name: The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis, 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.
In 1930, the stage was equipped with a turntable for performance purposes. This would be reconstructed in 1997 because of dilapidation. In 1994, The Muny's Board of Directors founded The Muny Kids, a select group of performers from the ages of 7 to 13 who would travel around St. Louis performing, and in the summer would give preview shows prior to the production. In 1998 The Muny Teens group was formed for the same purpose, featuring teen performers from the ages of 14 to 18.
The Chairman of the Board of the Muny in 2005-2006 was
William H.T. Bush(younger brother of former President George H.W. Bush). [ [http://www.bushodonnell.com/capitalpartners/whtbush.htm Bush O'Donnell Capital Partners, LLC: Principals: William H.T. (Bucky) Bush ] ] The current Chairman of the Board is Richard G. Millman.
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 staff of twelve prepare for the approaching summer season. All shows are rehearsed within the course of eleven days, with a tech rehearsal being held from midnight to five o'clock on the Sunday morning before the show. Shows run from Monday to Sunday, although there have been exceptions to this, particularly in recent years where each season has had at least one production that enjoys an extended run of nine to eleven performances.
Comparison to other outdoor theatres
The Muny website claim it is the "nation's oldest and largest outdoor theatre." [ [http://muny.org The Muny ] ]
There are numerous
amphitheatres/outdoor theatres that are much larger in the United States including the Hyundai Pavilionwhich claims to be the biggest in the United States (with a total capacity of 65,000 consisting of 10,902 seats and 54,098 in the grass). The Hollywood Bowl(opened in 1929) has seats for 17,376. Nikon at Jones Beach Theater(opened in 1952) has seating for 15,000. However most of the larger venues have rotating concerts and individual events rather than musicals.
The Muny is larger than the two other large Missouri amphitheatres --
Starlight Theatre (Kansas City)opened in 1925 has capacity of 8,105 and the Shepherd of the HillsOld Mill Theatre in Branson, Missouri(which opened in 1960), which has a capacity of 2,000 [ [http://www.johnfullerton.org/SOTHC.htm johnfullerton.org] ]
For a list of other amphitheatres see:
List of contemporary amphitheatres.
Celebrities at The Muny
Since its beginning, The Muny has featured many big names in theatre and film on its stage, drawing inevitably huge crowds. Here are a few of those big names, along with their claims to fame:
W.C. Fields- comedian
James Taylor- singer
Stevie Nicks- singer
Vincent Price- horror film actor
Cary Grant- film actor
Bob Hope- comedian
Glen Campbell- singer
Joel Grey- reprised his award-winning performance in " Cabaret"
Carol Burnett- comedian, actress
Eddie Albert- actor
Lauren Bacall- actress
Pearl Bailey- actress
Betty White- actress
Red Skelton- comedian
Patti Labelle- singer
Milton Berle- comedian
Ethel Merman- actress
Ken Page- Broadway performer (originated roles such as Old Deuteronomy)
Ozzie Smith- St. Louis CardinalsHall-of-Famer; father of " American Idol" star Nikko Smith
Carol Channing- actress
Yul Brynner- reprised the role of the King in " The King and I"
Howard Keel- film actor
Margaret Hamilton- film actress (played Wicked Witch of the Westin "The Wizard of Oz")
Shoshana Bean- has played as Elphabain the Broadway cast of "Wicked" (got her Equity card at The Muny)
Joel Grey- Broadway performer (originated roles such as the Emcee in "Cabaret" and the Wizard of Oz in "Wicked"
Pamela Isaacs- Broadway actress; appeared in original Broadway cast of " The Life", for which she won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical
* Simone - daughter of
Nina Simone; originated roles in "Rent" and on first national tour of "Aida"
Kendra Kassebaum- played Galindain the Broadway cast of "Wicked"
June 16-22 - "The Producers"
June 23-July 2 - "
Disney's High School Musical" Subscription performance dates are June 23 through June 29 with additional performance dates June 30 through July 2.
July 7-13 - "
My Fair Lady"
July 14-20 - 90 Years Of Muny Magic, a musical review celebrating of all the great music of the last 90 seasons.
July 21-27 - "
July 28-August 3 - "
My One and Only"
August 4-10 - "
Fiddler on the Roof"
The new Muny season is not officially announced until the preceding January or February, but many have found it entertaining to speculate on what shows will be produced, especially since The Muny follows certain patterns when selecting its shows.
The best way for an outsider to guess the next season is to fill out the evaluation forms handed out at the end of the current season's run, which allow audiences to circle their top seven choices for the next year. The choices change each year, depending on what shows are available and what shows have not been produced for a number of years.
The Muny Repertory
* The Muny "Sound of Music" program, 2005
* The Muny "King and I" program, 2006
* [http://www.muny.org Official site]
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