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Amid pandemic, the Muny unveils plans for a delayed, shortened season of theater

Amid pandemic, the Muny unveils plans for a delayed, shortened season of theater

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New stage highlights The Muny's 101st season opener

The Muny opened its 101st season June 10, 2019, on a rebuilt stage, with “Guys and Dolls."

The Muny hopes fans can meet in Forest Park this summer, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the theater on Monday announced a plan to shorten and delay its 102nd season.

“The season was originally scheduled to open June 15,” said Kwofe Coleman, the Muny’s managing director. “That is, of course, not happening.”

An abbreviated season is now scheduled to begin July 20. The season will close Aug. 30 instead of Aug. 16.

Productions of “Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins” and “Sweeney Todd” will be postponed until next summer. The other five previously announced shows have been pushed back several weeks:

“Chicago,” July 20-26

“The Sound of Music,” July 29-Aug. 4

“On Your Feet!,” Aug. 7-13

“Smokey Joe’s Café,” Aug. 15-21

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” Aug. 24-30

“Smokey Joe’s Café” and “On Your Feet!” will be Muny premieres.

The new schedule is tentative. If conditions for a July 20 opening have not been deemed safe by June 8, the full season will be postponed until 2021.

“We’re hopeful that by late July we will be far enough on the other side of this situation to have the chance to share a few nights under the stars together at the Muny,” the theater’s president and CEO Denny Reagan said in a statement. “Ultimately, the guidance of health and government officials will determine if this is possible.”

Coleman said this is the first time that the 11,000-seat outdoor theater has had to take such measures.

“You might lose a (performance) here and there,” he said, citing the rainout last year of the closing night of “Matilda” as an example. Any delay is conditional on the availability of the creative teams and others involved in the productions, he said.

The Muny produces and mounts its own productions, as it has done for decades. Actors, designers and craftsmen often spend the off-season working at other theaters.

The Muny’s announcement follows countless other summer postponements and cancellations at venues across the area. Opera Theatre of St. Louis, for instance, canceled its full festival season, which was to have run May 23 through June 28.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson recently extended a statewide emergency declaration, and a statewide stay-at-home order is in effect until May 4. A similar order in the city of St. Louis has been extended indefinitely.

“In this incredibly challenging time, it has been so gratifying how our subscribers, donors and friends have been telling us how much they hope they will get their Muny season,” Muny artistic director and executive producer Mike Isaacson said in a statement. “I’m so grateful to all of the creative teams and artists for their continued faith in the Muny.”

The Muny’s inaugural season in 1919 came on the heels of the Spanish Flu pandemic, during which St. Louisans had been quarantined through December 1918. Productions continued in Forest Park even during World War II.

The Muny, the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater, celebrated its centennial season in 2018. In 2019, a multimillion-dollar renovation was unveiled, which included a new stage with a protected orchestra pit and enhancements to lighting and other technology.

“We want to give as much time as possible to this situation, to see what happens,” Coleman said of the 2020 season. “We’re not in a moment of ‘the show must go on.’ We’re in a moment of ‘the show will go on, but only if it can.’”

Current season ticket holders will be contacted regarding options and next steps. New season tickets for the five-show package are available now and will be mailed in early June. Single tickets go on sale June 29.

The Muny box office is currently closed, but tickets can be purchased at

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