© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts

The Muny Revises Plans, Will Welcome Full-Capacity Crowds This Summer

The Muny box office sells tickets for its 100th season, which has drawn criticism for its production of "Jerome Robbins' Broadway." June 30, 2018
File photo/ Brian Heffernan
/
St. Louis Public Radio
When the Muny box office reopens for the season soon, there will be no cap on audience size. The outdoor theater previously planned to limit capacity and allow for socially distanced seating.

When the Muny returns to in-person performances in late July, it will do so without any limits on audience size.

Leaders of the outdoor theater in Forest Park previously announced plans to perform this summer for limited, socially distanced audiences. The venue can fit up to 11,000 theatergoers.

The wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines — combined with decreasing coronavirus case counts in the region — means the theater can safely proceed with 100% audience capacity, Managing Director Kwofe Coleman said Thursday.

“We’re so excited. We’re cleared,” Coleman said. “Our gathering restrictions have been lifted.”

He said the Muny has been in frequent contact with St. Louis health officials, who approved the revised reopening plan.

The plan theater leaders announced two weeks ago called for a shortened season — five shows instead of seven — and a nightly cap of about 60% of the venue’s full capacity. These changes meant the Muny faced a potential multimillion-dollar budget deficit this year.

By limiting audience restrictions, the theater now has a shot at breaking even, Coleman said.

“It puts us in position to do that and not suffer that financial loss,” he said, “but we had reached the point where we were willing to take a hit in order to bring people together and put people back to work.”

The Muny employs more than 700 people during its summer season, including full-time administrative staff and artistic personnel plus part-time employees such as ushers and concession vendors. Office staff have been working remotely since March 2020 and will shortly begin to return to the Forest Park campus.

The 2021 season will kick off July 26 with “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

“Optimism and hope has been absent for a while, and it’s really, really great to welcome those two feelings back,” Coleman said.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.