The Muny Takes Its 2020 Season Online for 10 Weeks with ‘Muny Magic in Your Home’
The skies are blue and clear, the weather forecast is perfectly rain-free … but for the first time in The Muny’s 102-year history, actors and audiences will not be present in Forest Park for the opening night of its musical theater season tonight.
Instead, Monday, June 15, is the launch of 10 weeks of Monday night online events (with Thursday rebroadcasts) honoring the incredible programming that The Muny’s multigenerational audiences know and love.
Each Monday through July 13, the new series “Muny Magic in Your Home” features five weeks of exclusive, never-before-seen footage of the The Muny’s concert series “Muny Magic at The Sheldon.” Launched in 2015, the popular off-season series hosts Muny fan favorites for intimate evenings of music, song and story.
The following five weeks (July 20-Aug. 17) bring variety shows featuring Muny friends and family from around the world. The full schedule and lineup for the variety shows will be announced in early July.
Mike Isaacson, Muny artistic director and executive producer, encourages musical theater-lovers to grab their laptops and head outdoors at 8:15 p.m. on this “devastatingly beautiful” evening to re-create the experience of enjoying the performances in nature with “Muny Magic in Your Home.”
“A Night with the Buddy Holly Boys” at The Sheldon in 2015.
Tonight’s show (June 15 and 18) is headlined by Broadway and Muny favorite Beth Leavel, a Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning artist. There are guest appearances from Lara Teeter and others—including what Isaacson describes as a brilliant surprise to conclude the show.
The lineup for the following weeks is:
- “A Night with the Buddy Holly Boys” (June 22 and 25) where they “blow the roof off the Sheldon,” Isaacson says.
- “Our Leading Ladies” (June 29 and July 2) with a must-see Barbara Cook tribute.
- “Our Leading Men” (July 6 and 9) that includes “a Mykal Kilgore rendition of ‘Home’ that everyone should wake up to every single day.”
- “Mikaela Bennet and Alex Prakken” (July 13 and 16) with two young performers who give Isaacson great hope for the future of musical theater.
It’s important to note that the Monday premieres are followed by a Thursday rebroadcast with captions and audio descriptions—but after that, the shows will not be available online. Being there live and in person is part of the magic of attending The Muny in Forest Park, and Isaacson says the goal is to preserve that feel as much as possible. (He also notes that because the videos of live stage performances at The Muny are contractually protected, the theater doesn’t own the rights to publish video from those shows.)
Mikaela Bennet and Alex Prakken
Some of the performers featured in the “Muny Magic in Your Home” shows were scheduled to be part of the 2020 season, and while they’re delighted to be part of the online series, they will also deeply miss performing live. “Making those calls was heartbreaking,” Isaacson says.
As for the 350,000 theatergoers who visit The Muny during its nine-week run each summer, “after we announced the cancellation of our season in early May, the most common sentiment was ‘We’ll miss you,’” Isaacson says. “We have the gift of being part of people’s lives.”
The free “Muny Magic in Your Home” series includes messages from subscribers explaining why they decided to donate their season tickets back to the nonprofit theater company. If you’re a current season ticket holder and would like to donate, please visit muny.org/visionaries. If you’re a non-season ticket holder and would like to donate, please visit muny.org/donate-now.
The live streams of the “Muny Magic in Your Home” will be offered for free on The Muny’s website at 8:15 p.m. each Monday from June 15-Aug. 17. Each week’s show will be rebroadcast Thursdays at 8:15 p.m. at the same link. The 2020 virtual season’s presenting sponsor is World Wide Technology.
Images courtesy of The Muny staff photographer. Featured image: Beth Leavel performs at The Sheldon.