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The Muny will try to keep theatergoers and staff cool on a hot St. Louis night

A drone photo of an empty Muny
Brent Jones
St. Louis Public Radio
The Muny aims to protect theatergoers from high temperatures during its final production of "Sweeney Todd" today. Muny leaders say they’ll have fans going and encourage staff and audiences to stay hydrated.

The Muny, one of St. Louis’ biggest outdoor attractions, is bracing for high temperatures tonight during its final performance of "Sweeney Todd," and its leaders say they will do their best to keep performers and theatergoers comfortable.

Forecasters predict the heat index could reach or exceed 105 degrees today. But the Forest Park theater should be cool enough for audiences by the 8:15 p.m. showtime, said Kwofe Coleman, president and CEO of the Muny.

“We are starting after the sun has gone down or the sun is going down, so it is a pretty dramatic change in temperature,” Coleman said.

The Muny went through renovations over the past 10 years that included the installation of new large fans in the audience and behind the stage in 2013. Coleman said the organization purchased other large fans at the beginning of this season. He said those changes, along with the theater’s shady spots, have helped keep air flowing throughout the venue and kept crowds cool.

St. Louis and St. Louis County emergency management officials have issued heat advisories until 8 p.m. Saturday.

St. Louis Emergency Management Commissioner Sarah Russell said people need to refrain from intensive outdoor activities over the next few days. She said that if people do plan to go outside, it’s important they remain hydrated and spend time in the shade.

Coleman said while the heat doesn’t significantly hinder the Muny’s operations, cast and crew take more breaks during hot days when they’re rehearsing outside. He said the Muny is reminding cast and crew member to be aware of the heat and monitor their health.

“Stay vigilant. If you're not feeling well, if you're feeling a little warm, go inside somewhere, let someone know,” Coleman said. “We're making sure that people aren't even getting close to the edge of feeling well, you know, if you feel a little bit warm or not great, take a break. At the end of the day, what we're doing is making theater and we're making art and entertainment for people, so this is not at the cost of anyone.”

The shade and fans will help keep audience members safe, said Coleman, who urges audiences to stay hydrated and take necessary precautions over the next few days.

“What we want to stress is when there is what is classified now as a heat wave. Take care all day, you know, so that you're eating well, you're staying hydrated,” he said. “If you want to bring some cool water, do that. If you want to bring a cool rag around your neck, do that. All those kinds of things we encourage.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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