On a warm summer night, nothing says “St. Louis” quite like The Muny in Forest Park. Sitting in the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theater, alongside 11,000 other St. Louisans for the pure reason of being entertained and seeing a live performance is a truly magical experience like no other. The connection between audience members and those onstage is often referred to as “Muny Magic.””
On any beautiful summer evening, hordes of theatregoers wait on The Muny’s upper patio before the start of a show. The scent of bug spray, sticky and slightly perfumy , hangs in the air over the hundreds of people filing their way into the theater; throughout the patio, the chirping sound of ushers scanning tickets is never far. A mom and her young daughter wait patiently in the ticket line. The little girl beams as she glances around at the overwhelming amount of people; and excitedly tugs on her mother’s arm as they move closer in line.
Slowly reaching the peak of the steps leading to the theater, past the endless line of eager patrons, the sight of it seems to come out of nowhere: a sea of thousands of forest green, plastic seats gently sloping down a massive hill towards the stage at the bottom. The stage itself looms over the audience like a gigantic black wall the size of a football field. The orchestra sits below it, musical scales and flurries of high and low notes from the myriad of instruments warming up occasionally spouting from the pit, grabbing a few audience members’ attention.
As more and more audience members file into the theater, some of them returning patrons year after year, and some of them about to see their first live performance, a buzz of excitement fills the air. Suddenly, a booming but yet soothing voice sounds over the theater, welcoming everyone to that evening’s performance. As the orchestra plays the national anthem, and the audience stands and sings, joined by the actors nervously waiting backstage, everyone involved can feel a sense of connection and family. The Muny Magic then takes over.