FOREST PARK – The Muny opened its 101st season last week with the musical theatre classic “Guys and Dolls.”
The last time the show was performed at the Muny was fifteen years ago. This year, the production featured Muny alums Ben Davis, Kendra Kassebaum and Ken Page, as well as newcomers Brittany Bradford and Jordan Gelber. The production was directed by Jordan Greenberg.
This was also the first show since the Muny renovated its stage and orchestra pit, features that hadn’t been touched in the Muny’s century-old history.
Revamping these key elements – which meant new lifts and trap doors and a more welcoming space for the musicians in the pit, as well as other artist-oriented amenities – means that the Muny has the ability to create the same magic they’ve made for over a hundred year – but even better.
For “Guys and Dolls,” the audiences packed in as they always do. Tickets to the Muny can cost up to $105, but for those who don’t want to dish out that kind of cash, there is another option: the free seats.
In the very back of the Muny theater, there are nearly 1,500 seats reserved for the public, for free. And it is a service that does not go unused. Two to three hours before the 8:15 curtain time each night, people begin to line up at the top of the theater, eating picnic dinners and listening to pre-show entertainment.
As it inches closer to showtime, the lines get longer, and at 7 p.m. on the dot, the audience members are allowed to begin their descent into the free seats. If they’re lucky, it’s not too hot, but if it is, at least everybody’s suffering together. And they’ve got the musical numbers to keep them distracted.
Sunday night, the closing night of “Guys and Dolls,” was a mercifully nice day for both those who bought tickets to the production and those who decided to wait in line for the free seats.
One theater-goer, of the latter group, said that she and her family tried to come to the Muny once a year. Sometimes they buy tickets, but, she said, the free seats are a great option, too.
“It’s just a lot of fun to sit and have a picnic, and then the kids can bring their friends,” said the patron, who goes by Kim. “And you don’t have to worry about the cost of it adding up, ’cause they’re free seats.”
Two other patrons, Jenni and Julie, who have attended a couple of Muny shows a year for the past sixteen years, said much the same.
“When our kids were still young, that is what we did,” Julie said. “We knew we’d have to leave, with a 3- or 4-year-old.”
“Guys and Dolls” ended on Sunday night, but the Muny has a whole season ahead, comprising six more shows. Next up? “Kinky Boots,” opening on June 19th.
For more information about the Muny season or to purchase tickets, visit https://muny.org/.