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Catch The Muny's Greatest Hits Without Leaving Your Living Room

The cast of the musical "All Shook Up" at the Muny in 2017.
Phillip Hamer
The Muny
The cast of the musical "All Shook Up" at the Muny in 2017.

Every summer, the Muny draws hundreds of thousands of people to experience outdoor musical theater. The venue can host up to 11,000 people on any given night, and attendance for last year’s seven-show season was a total of 368,584.

That size audience wasn’t possible this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Muny had to push back this season’s original program to 2021 but in the meantime has continued to put on shows virtually.

It is offering weekly variety hours online — a star-studded mix of never-before-aired clips from past Muny shows, cast reunion sing-alongs and song and dance performances by Muny artists. Joining Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air to share highlights was the Muny’s artistic director and executive producer, Mike Isaacson.

The musical theater started the summer by streaming exclusive footage from a concert series called "Muny Magic at the Sheldon." That helped “buy some time,” Isaacson said, to prepare content for the "Variety Hour Live!" program.

The archived clips featured in the shows are usually reserved for historical and educational use. But the Muny was able to work with nine organizations to get temporary approval to showcase them.

“When you see the clips of the shows, it's kind of mind-boggling because there's the incredible scope and the trees and the orchestra, and you go, ‘Wow, you know that's the beauty.’ That's the most beautiful and painful part,” he said.

It’s not quite theater, but Isaacson said it’ll do for now.

“The Muny is a big idea in many ways; it's got this history and how we serve the community and this sense of ritual,” he explained. “And so part of it was, OK, ‘Let's do this live,’ which re-creates that idea of people gathering, and it's only here right now — which is what theater is — then let's do five (shows) … so we tried to re-create as best we could to re-create aspects of what the Muny experience is.”

The virtual connection hasn’t deterred Muny fans from tuning in — Isaacson noted that more than 30,000 people streamed the first show.

Listen to the full conversation:

Related Event

What: "The Muny 2020 Summer Variety Hour Live!"
When: July 27 and Aug. 3, 10, 17 (streamcasts reshown July 30 and Aug. 6, 13, 20)
Where: Online at youtube.com/themunytv

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.

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