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Arts

The Muny Details Plans For 2021 Season, Hoping The Pandemic Will Subside By July

The 11,000 seats at the Muny will sit idle this summer. The shape of summer life in St. Louis is changing because of the coronavirus. [6/25/20]
File photo/Brent Jones/St. Louis Public Radio
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St. Louis Public Radio
The 11,000 seats at the Muny sat idle in the summer of 2020. The theater plans to produce a full, seven-show season next year if it is safe to do so.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. with shows from the Muny's planned seasonThe Muny plans to produce a seven-show season next year that would run from July through early September, the theater’s officials announced Monday. But the season will only take place if the coronavirus is less of a threat and officials allow large gatherings again.

“If those things take place by the time we start, then we’ll be able to do this,” Managing Director Kwofe Coleman said. “There are so many factors that are out of our control that are in play here.”

The theater is preparing for a best-case scenario in which it can stage all the shows originally scheduled for this year, before Muny leaders canceled the season because of the virus.

A return of live performances would depend on a determination by St. Louis officials that large public gatherings are safe and that social distancing is no longer necessary to keep theatergoers safe from spread of the virus.

The planned July 5 start date is a few weeks later than in past years. It is the latest date the theater could begin its season and have time to produce all seven shows by Labor Day. The theater needs about 10 weeks' notice to fully gear up for the season, Coleman said.

“The thought of having our Muny family and audience together again next summer makes my heart soar," Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson said in a statement. "The passion, energy and talent that so many put into a Muny show will be through the non-existent roof next summer. Let's do it."

The season will include performances of:

  • “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (July 5 to 11)
  • “Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins” (July 14 to 22)
  • “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” (July 25 to 31)
  • “The Sound of Music” (Aug. 3 to 9)
  • “Sweeney Todd” (Aug. 12 to 18)
  • “On Your Feet!” (Aug. 21 to 27)
  • “Chicago” (Aug. 30 to Sept. 5)

Even if safety conditions are met, Coleman said, he’s not able to predict how willing theatergoers will be to be part of large crowds. The Muny seats up to 11,000 people.

“Even with a vaccine present, the public appetite to go out is yet to be determined,” Coleman said. “But we’ll provide the environment so long as it’s safe, and hopefully people will appreciate that and come out.”

He said that the theater could shorten its schedule if a safe start is only possible later in the summer. Last year, the theater reduced its schedule to five shows before canceling the season once it became apparent that the pandemic would make it impossible to proceed.

It staged a series of 10 performances available through web streams instead. A combined audience of 189,582 viewed them, according to the Muny.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

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