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The Muny Will Reopen In July For A Five-Show Season

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
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St. Louis Public Radio
When the Muny returns to live performances in July after a prolonged break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the venue will use about 60% of its 11,000-person capacity.

After more than a year of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Muny announced Wednesday it will welcome theatergoers back this summer.

The outdoor theater in Forest Park will mount a five-show season beginning July 26.

“It’s a good day,” said Managing Director Kwofe Coleman, who will take the reins as the organization’s president and CEO next year. “I’m sitting at my window and I can look out and see the theater inside the park, and I’ve never been more excited to get back there.”

Muny visitors will see some changes this summer. The organization will only make available about 60% of the theater’s 11,000 seats. Ticket-buyers will be seated at least three feet away from other parties.

The theater will not require showgoers to wear face coverings to deter spread of the virus, but is urging attendees who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine to wear masks. Many season ticket holders will need to select different seats for the 2021 season because of revisions to the seating chart to accommodate social distancing.

Revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week holds that vaccinated individuals may safely gather without masks or social distancing.

The surprise change in federal guidance caused the Muny to revise its season plans once more, Coleman said. The theater had been preparing to announce a 2021 season with show capacities of about 20% before the CDC’s announcement.

With a five-show season and limited seating capacity, the theater stands to lose as much as $2 million this season, Coleman said. But that deficit will be lessened if some season ticket holders do not request refunds for two productions that are pushed back to next year.

“It’s a loss we can sustain in order to bring theater back and bring people back to work,” Coleman said. “We have to take that financial leap of faith. It will balance out, we know that.”

During a full seven-show season, the nonprofit theater typically breaks even.

The theater will employ its usual group of more than 700 employees this season, Coleman said. Fewer actors and other creative staff will be required for the five-show season, but the organization may employ more ushers and other personnel to assist attendees with the new seating procedures and a streamlined entry process including newly purchased metal detectors.

The revised season will include performances of:

  • “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” (July 26 to Aug. 1).
  • “The Sound of Music” (Aug. 3 to 9).
  • “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (Aug. 12 to 18).
  • “On Your Feet!” (Aug. 21 to 27).
  • “Chicago” (Aug. 30 to Sept. 5).

Two shows initially planned for 2020 and then postponed to this year — “Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins” and “Sweeney Todd” — will be pushed to 2022.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

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