LARRY PRY/THE MUNY
Thanks to the coronavirus, the show must not go on.
It's a familiar (if depressing) refrain at this point.
"Insert Organization Here will be postponing its 2020 events due to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Those events will be rescheduled for sometime in 2021. It is with great regret. The safety of our patrons and employees. Etc."
It's played out this way all across the city, state, nation, world at this point. And we get it: 2020 is canceled.
But when it's an institution like the Muny saying that its stage will be empty for the first summer in more than 100 years — that one really
But that's the way things are now, and so the Muny announced this week
that the show will not be going on this season.
"After evaluating every aspect of our operation in relation to our audience, staff, cast, crew and community, and with careful and ongoing consideration for all information and guidance available regarding the COVID-19 global pandemic, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone our 2020 season lineup until the summer of 2021," reads a statement
sent out on Monday.
The postponement comes just one week after the Fox Theatre similarly announced that its planned 2020 showings of the smash hit musical Hamilton would be postponed until 2021
, and as some major producers on Broadway predict that people will not be able to go to the theater again until there's a vaccine
The Muny's inaugural season came in 1919, right as the Spanish Flu pandemic was ending, interestingly enough. The amphitheater has hosted shows on its stage in Forest Park every summer since, even in the midst of World War II — it's hard to overstate just how significant that stage is to St. Louis' arts and theater culture. But in the coronavirus, the organization has met its match.
The Muny initially made the decision in April to postpone the kickoff
of this year's slate of shows from June 15 to to July 20. But since the coronavirus crisis continues largely unabated (even as states lift stay-at-home orders in an effort to salvage the economy), the organization has been forced to give up on 2020 altogether.
"From the beginning, our hope was that conditions would improve enough in time for us to continue the 102-year-old tradition of gathering to celebrate community and theatre at the Muny," says Muny President and CEO Denny Reagan. "Coming together every summer is more than entertainment — it's a tradition. To miss that for the first time in 102 years is tremendously difficult and disheartening."
In what is once again a familiar refrain, the organization will instead go digital this year. According to the release, the Muny will offer a "complete schedule of virtual alternative programming" to be announced soon. The web streams will include broadcasts of past Muny Magic at the Sheldon
shows, which will kick off on June 15, and what the company describes as "a new series featuring Muny friends and family from around the world" that will start on July 20.
Season ticket holders will be contacted about their options, which will include refunds, credits toward next season or the possibility of simply donating the money to the non-profit, which St. Louis Public Radio reports
will lose some $4 million as a result of the cancellations. The Muny's box office is currently closed, but those who wish to contact box office staff can do so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
"We are all heartbroken, but this is the right decision for our community and everyone on and backstage in our Muny family," says Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer Mike Isaacson. "For 102 years, the Muny has provided St. Louisans with amazing entertainment and joyous memories, and even though we cannot be together in Forest Park this summer, we are committed to continuing this summer tradition for our audience."
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