The Muny: Wikis


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The Muny
Closing night August 15, 2007
Country USA
Designation Outdoor Theatre
Owned by Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis (lease from city of St. Louis)
Capacity 11,000[1]
Opened June 5, 1917 (first performance in theatre)
June 16, 1919 (first performance via the Municipal Theatre Association)[2]
Coordinates: 38°38′24″N 90°16′48″W / 38.640049°N 90.280087°W / 38.640049; -90.280087

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.[3] The Muny has completed its 91st annual summer season with 371,764 people 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

In 1914, Luther Ely Smith who would be the "founder" of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial began staging pageant-Masques on Art Hill in Forest Park. [4]

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 Anglin and starring Sydney Greenstreet with a local cast of "1,000 St. Louis folk dancers and folk singers." [5]

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, 1917 the 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).[6] The current Chairman of the Board is Richard G. Millman.

The front of The Muny during the 2009 season.

2010 Season

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” June 21-30 (10 performances) “Titanic: The Musical” July 5-11 “Damn Yankees” July 12-18 “Cats” July 19-25 “The Sound of Music”: July 26-Aug. 1 “Footloose” Aug. 2-8 “Show Boat” Aug. 9-15

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 claims it is the "nation's oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre."[7]

There are numerous amphitheatres/outdoor theatres that are much larger in the United States including the Hyundai Pavilion which 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. Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia (a suburb of Washington, DC), can accommodate up to 25,000 people per event. 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 Hills Old Mill Theatre in Branson, Missouri (which opened in 1960), which has a capacity of 2,000[8]

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.

For a history of the celebrities that have performed at The Muny see: Official site

Future seasons

The new Muny season is not officially announced until the preceding January or February. During the third to last production of the season, survey forms are handed out to audience members. On this survey, audience members are asked to select their "Top 7" productions from a long list of show titles. The most popular selections from this first survey are printed on a second survey, then handed out during the final production of the season. Audience members then choose their "Top 7" from this shorter list. The choices change each year, depending on what titles are available and what shows have not been produced for a number of years. The Muny chiefly operates on a 5-year cycle, in which a title cannot be produced again until five seasons have 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 Muny Repertory

A complete listing of all productions since the first season in 1919 may be found here: The Muny Repertory


  • The Muny "Sound of Music" program, 2005
  • The Muny "King and I" program, 2006


External links

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