Unsurpassed Outdoor Plays Delight Multiple Generations
Each year, as everyone hears the familiar “Meet Me At The Muny” jingle, there’s no doubt it’s time to head to Forest Park for another season of Broadway-caliber outdoor plays. This year, visiting The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (The Muny’s official name) is even more special. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the St. Louis staple.
MUNY MARVELOUS BEGINNINGS
On June 16, 1919, The Muny opened with a production of “Robin Hood.” Roots for The Muny were planted in 1913 with the St. Louis Pageant Drama Association. The sacred St. Louis spot anchored musicals, operas, concerts and ballets within the area’s 6,000 square feet.
For many, The Muny is their first theater experience. It’s a seductive, under-the-stars undertaking that sets the bar for the rest of their lives regarding expectations for plays, no matter where they live.
The Muny’s centennial opening production was Jerome Robbin’s “Broadway.” Other June shows were “The Wiz” and “Singin’ In The Rain.” July shows include “Jersey Boys,” “Annie” and “Gypsy.” The season concludes with the infamous “Meet Me in St. Louis” Aug. 4-12.
Artists Heather Headley and Matthew Morrison cohosted the Centennial Gala May 19. An Evening with The Stars celebrated The Muny’s diverse history and musical theater.
A COMMUNITY BIRTHDAY WITH 100 CANDLES
Muny staffers held a Centennial Birthday Bash on May 20, with a free open house celebration. Guests enjoyed once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as Munchkin Land performances, camel rides, cake art, interactive backstage tours, live local bands, a Ferris wheel, reunion photos, karaoke, a petting zoo, strolling characters, photo keepsakes and Muny Centennial souvenirs.
“You can’t turn 100 without throwing a party,” said Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan.
“This Birthday Bash was the perfect opportunity for us to invite the community to really celebrate the fact that their support is what has sustained this theatre for a century.”
Did you know the name of the organization didn’t get shortened to “The Muny” until 1980?
A surprise announcement was that Muny staffers are launching the first-ever capital campaign to raise $100 million to create a new stage, lighting, orchestra area and air ducts for audiences.
Future Muny memories after 2019 and 2020 will be different if all of the proposed renovations occur. The stage will have sleek, curved silhouettes and colored lights. Singers and dancers may perform in front of digital screens that magically slip into place. The accompanying music will be played in full view of audiences from a sheltered enclosure underneath the stage. And, for all those summer nights, new air ducts will channel breezes through the theater to keep audiences cool and comfortable.
SOAKING IN PAST SUCCESSES AND MUNY MAGIC
Missouri History Museum’s “Muny Memories: 100 Seasons Onstage” exhibit, which opened June 9, explains in great detail how the theater was formed, highlights shows from past seasons and shares peeks at backstage elements that demonstrate how the famous Muny magic works.
Organized by the museum’s employees, the exhibit shares recollections of stars and staff. Exhibit visitors can leave their own Muny memories, vote on their favorite stage star and even learn a few dance steps.
The Muny’s longtime slogan, Alone in Its Greatness, is one of the best ways to describe the nation’s largest and oldest continually operating outdoor theater.