your home of education, arts, & culture
AUGUST 2018 magazine
allow us to [re] introduce ourselves
HEC-TV PROGRAMMING COLLABORATORS
ARTS/CULURAL St. Louis Arts Experience Bach Society of St. Louis Center of Creative Arts (COCA) Commission for Access and Local Original Programming (CALOP) Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Focus St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center International Institute of St. Louis Jazz St. Louis Missouri Botanical Garden Missouri Department of Conservation Missouri History Museum Missouri Humanities Council Museum of Transportation National Endowment for the Arts National Blues Museum Opera Theatre Saint Louis Regional Arts Commission Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) Saint Louis County Parks and Recreation Saint Louis Science Center Saint Louis Symphony Saint Louis Zoo The Sheldon Art Galleries and Concert Hall CIVIC Cortex Innovation Community Missouri Bar Association St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission St. Louis Economic Development Partnership St. Louis Regional Chamber EDUCATION Archdiocese of St. Louis 22 Area Universities and Colleges Education Plus 62 Elementary/Secondary School Districts in Metropolitan St. Louis
HEC-TV leadership Alan Winkleman, President Ann Terry Johnson, Secretary Wayne Goode, Treasurer James L. McHugh Sr., J.D., Member Craig Larson, Member
HEC-TV team Dennis Riggs, President Boyd Pickup, Director of Operations Jayne Ballew, Director of Programming Christina Chastain, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships Manager Amanda Honigfort, Special Projects & Programs Producer Kristy Houle, Educational Opportunities Coordinator Tim Gore, Director of Educational Initiatives
Feat. meet the all new hec 8-10
We are working extremely hard here at HEC to make some major, important changes. Itâ€™s all part of our dedication to serving you and strenghening our arts, education, and cultural communities thoughout the metropolitan region.
Magazine Design by Christina Chastain
14/15 OPEN MIC W/president and ceo of the muny, denny reagan
13 EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT By: Linda Chuvala, Educate.Today Team Member
High school has traditionally been the place to prepare for college, but for some of todayâ€™s students, high school has become a replacement for college through dual-enrollment.
WHO TO WATCH
Keep up with everything happening in St. Louis, from concerts, to art exhibits - we cover everything!
Stream all of our documentaries online for free, anytime, including The Best of Us: 100 Yeas of Muny Magic!
DEMESTIK by Reuben Reuel is a line that centers on brightly colored, generally African-style prints.
11/12 St. Louis Spotlight
Take an exclusive look into the newly renovated Gateway Arch National Park!
St. Louis’ can’t miss events & celebrations
Go to www.hectv.org/events for a full listing of st. louis events and sign up for our newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a weekly update of event reminders.
Colorism Explores the internal discrimination against darkskinned people. kranzbergartscenter.org
12 Light in the Piazza
Denise Bogard Left Bank Books welcomes St. Louis author and UMSL alum Denise Pattiz Bogard. www.left-bank.com
Jeremy Brooks A small exhibition of Brooks’ ceramics are on display at the Duane Reed Gallery. www.duanereedgallery.com
Winner of numerous Tony Awards in 2005, a romantic and mysterious musical. www.r-stheatrics.com
Jason Kander Left Bank Books welcomes former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. www.left-bank.com
Muny Memories The Missouri History Museum celebrates the Muny’s 100th season. www.mohistory.org
19 Voices Rising
20 Messages Mercury
21 The Good Deeds
In its 8th season, the Gesher Music Festival returns for two weeks in August. geshermusicfestival.org
Meals for a Million Meals for a Million is a community-wide food packing event. mealsforamillion.com
Artist Benjamin Lowder creates works of deconstructed text of hidden meaning. cherokeestreetgallery.com
Karen Slaughter The #1 internationally bestselling suspence author comes to SLCL. www.slcl.org
With its 5 member ensemble, The Good Deeds are all about the folk experience. www.thesheldon.org
Tara Pedroley Poetry at the Point is held at The Focal Point on the 4th Tuesday of the month. stlouispoetrycenter.org
WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY
Mama Mia! The ultimate feel-good show, Mamma Mia! uses the music of ABBA. www.stagesstlouis.org
Studio Works Features works by students and faculty in ceramics, metals, fiber and wood. www.craftalliance.org
Flora Borealis A nighttime-only multi media exhibition at the Missouri Botanical Garden. www.mobot.org
Golf the Galleries Tonight is Harry Potter Theme Night at the Sheldon Art Galleries. www.thesheldon.org
Neverending Story Travel to the mythical world of Fantasia for the Art Hill Film Series. www.slam.org
Umphrey’s McGee Umphrey’s McGee will perform with Spafford at the Chesterfield Amphitheater. chesterfieldamphitheater.com
Nabucco Experience some of Verdi’s grandest orchestral and choral music ever written. www.union-avenue.org
Joe Rogan One of the most complex and exciting stand-ups working in America today. www.stifeltheatre.com
FAUST An experimental, rock-opera adaptation of Goethe’s most celebrated work. www.foamstlouis.com
22 Let’s Play Ball!
The Field House Museum presents “Historic Games of America’s Favorite Pastime” fieldhousemuseum.org
Wild Ponies Wild Ponies offer dead right, honest songwriting delivered hauntingly beautiful. www.kdhx.org
Summer Book Sale Book lovers, collectors and avid readers all anticipate this annual event. www.jccstl.com
Maybe This Time A comedy about the pains, passions and possibilities of online dating. www.gaslighttheater.net
Rise Up Festival Rise Up Festival is an annual arts festival celebrating revitalization in St. Louis. www.riseupfestival.org
24 Ptah Williams
25 Run 4 Kids
Robert Horsey Left Bank Books welcomes local author and registered nurse Robert Horsey. www.left-bank.com
Jason Garms Jason is a dynamic blend of blues, reggae, bluegrass, funk, soaul, and more. www.elementstl.com
Join the legendary Ptah Williams, Gary Sykes & Darrel Mixon. www.thedarkroomstl.com
Queeny Park Art Fair Up to 130 juried artists from 20 or more states will be at the Art Fair at Queeny Park. artfairatqueenypark.com
Run 4 Kids will benefit The Little Bit Foundation and feature a 5K competition. www.thelittlebitfoundation.org
what to watch
a conversation with tom ridgely Meet the man behind the curtain in our exclusive interview with Tom Ridgely - the new executive producer of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. He tells us about his work in the theatre capital of the world and why he chose to move to St. Louis to serve the city and it’s Shakesperean productions. He also brings us backstage for a tour of the set of Romeo and Juliet.
New advancements continue to prosper around Missouri, and we have the stories on hecmedia.org. Two grade school students turned a SMART table into a holographic, touchbased math learning tool for kindergarteners, a well-known video card producer, NVIDIA, is developing Star Trek’s Holodeck to use virtual reality as a design tool, and the world’s largest solid 3-D printed item is being developed as a part of the forthcoming 777X jet at Boeing’s St. Louis Composite Center of Excellence.
happening now We provide you with the latest events and grand openings in the St. Louis area. Go to hecmedia.org to see the behind the scenes of the iconic Gateway Arch National Park opening, Grand Center’s “WORK/PLAY” exhibit that focuses on colorism within the African-American community, the Saint Louis Zoo’s free friday night summer concerts, and more!
find the full schedule at hectv.org/tv-schedule
how to watch who to watch HEC is the leading producer of local arts, cultural, and educational programming in St. Louis - reflecting our mission statement, “to strengthen and promote the education, arts, and cultural communities of the St. Louis Metropolitcan area.” HEC is affiliated with the St. Louis County for Educational Media. As a three-time winner of the prestigious Station of Excellence Award from the Mid-America Emmy Association, HEC is committed to producing television designed to engage and challenge viewers, and to illuminate topics that will “Make You Think!” In addition to providing local programming for the general audience, all HEC productions are available free of charge to teachers, along with corresponding curriculum and classroom materials.
stream all programs free at www.hecmedia.org on demand ch. 989 charter cable ch. 2.2 ktvi sundays ch. 99 at&t u-verse
connect with us twitter.com/HEC-TV
By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Programs and Projects Producer
A few years ago, Reuben Reuel walked into a fabric store hardly expecting it to change the course of his career. “I saw stacks of Ankara African print fabric, fell in love with it and asked myself ‘Why is no one using this fabric in a more modern way?’” said Reuel. Now, the fabric is at the center of his line, DEMESTIK by Reuben Reuel. It’s a line that centers on brightly colored, generally African-style prints. “Color is something that has always been a part of my life,” said Reuel. “It makes me happy, it makes other people happy.” Everything is made in house, here in St. Louis, by Reuel and his full time seamstress. The designer started his business out of his home in Brooklyn, New York, but as he tells it, “It got to the point where I was done with New York, and wanted to find a new space to create, so in 2016 I applied for the St. Louis Fashion Fund Incubator and luckily got in.” He followed up the move by winning a highly competitive Arch Grant the following year - a $50,000 equity-free grant and priceless support services in exchange for keeping the company based in St. Louis for at least another year, which he’s very happy to do as he sees the small St. Louis Fashion scene growing. “There are really great talented people here in St. Louis, so St. Louis and fashion - they do go hand in hand.”
His designs have caught the attention of several well known celebreties including Beyonce, and his distinctive style is popping up more and more around town. You can learn more about Reuben Reuel and the St. Louis fashion scene in the Arts genre on hecmedia.org.
we’ve been going through changes By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Projects and Programs Producer
You will notice HEC looks a bit different recently.
We are working extremely hard here at HEC to make some major, important changes. It’s all part of our dedication to serving you and strenghening our arts, education and cultural communities thoughout the metropolitan region. We want to take a moment with you, our community, and have a conversation about who we are and where we are going. We’ve been here, serving the St. Louis community, for
longer than you may realize. When we were founded in 1981, we ran tele-courses through the University of Missouri - St. Louis and the St. Louis Community College. In the process, we helped St. Louisans earn more than 50,000 hours of college credit. We also ran an over the air GED program. “We’re grounded in community service,” says Dennis Riggs, the president of HEC. Shortly after Riggs took the helm in 2002, we began expanding our offerings. “2002 is when we moved from simply being a broadcaster
of programs to becoming a leading producer of programming and really started showing St. Louisans and the world the best of St. Louis.” An early example is the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark exhibition. The Missouri History Museum put together the national touring exhibit about the expedition, and HEC produced a behind the scenes documentary on the making of the exhibit. “Teachers would see it on air and were calling to say ‘Could we use this before I take my students to the History Museum to see the exhibit, or after I take my students to the museum, or I can’t afford to take my students to the museum can we use your documentary in place of going to the exhibit and encourage them to go see the exhibit with their parents?’,” says Riggs. Of
course we were happy to be that resource. From there, we began creating a program (then called HEC Live!) to connect students directly with experts in the field. To date we’ve done over 200 Live! programs, and are continuing this programming as our flagship programming on Educate.Today. (More on the role of Educate.Today later.) The Lewis and Clark exhibit also began our commitment to use our programming platforms to tell the important stories that often no one else is telling, and we produced our first big documentaries shortly thereafter. Our commitment to long form, in-depth documentary story telling continues today, and has found great success with audiences across the country and around the world. “Our mantra for years has been to strengthen our schools,
educate our workforce, and enhance the quality of life.” says Riggs. You can find at least part of that triad in everything we do.
Our Programing: Bringing the Best of St. Louis to St. Louis and the World Perhaps you remember some of our first big documentaries, Something in the Water (about the electrifying classic rock scene in St. Louis in the late 1960s and 70s), Mission to Educate (about the history and importance of the Catholic Education system) or A River Runs Through It (about the impact of the River Des Peres). You may have also seen our Saint Louis Art Fair documentary last year. This year, we’re excited to be releasing a new slate of fascinating documentaries for you to keep an eye out for., such as our recently premired The Best Of Us, which tells the incredible story of the first 100 years of the Muny – more developments for The Best Of Us are to come and you can read about it at www.thebestofusfilm.com. True Gaelic tells the story of an archeological dig Saint Louis University is conducting that is set to change our understanding of Irish history. Another, A New Leaf, tells the story of the Botanical Garden, one of the finest botanical showplaces in the world, and the story behind their newly refurbished and reopened museum. We’ll also be releasing a brand new Saint Louis Art Fair documentary focusing on the fair’s 25th anniversary and the incredible impact of the Saint Louis Art Fair on our entire community. In addition to our documentaries, we’re continuing to bring the best of St. Louis to our community and the wider world with our in-depth, quality segments; telling stories you often won’t hear anywhere else - or at least not with the space, time, and thought that we give them. You can dive into what’s new in the city with Happening Now (previously Scope), find out more about the most recent developments in science, technology, and our booming startup scene with our Science and Technology coverage (previously Innovations) and learn about the people who are making a difference in our community, as well as the latest in education, arts, culture, and more. Through our collaborations with organizations like the Economic Development Council, World Trade Center St. Louis, Bi-State Development, Arch Grants, and more we’re bringing news, initiatives, and programs from governmental and large-impact nonprofits that have a direct impact on our life in St. Louis, directly to you. You can find those programs in the “Community” section of
our website. We’re also giving the microphone to community leaders and asking them to speak directly to you in our “Open Mic” series in the magazine and through our A Conversation With programs. With “Open Mic” you hear directly from community leaders about how they achieved their position, what their organization does, and what their plans are for the future. Look for “Open Mic” articles from the new executive director of the Saint Louis Art Fair and from the World Trade Center in the coming months. When you tune into A Conversation With, you know you’re going to get an in-depth look at who these leaders are as people and as community leaders, as well as what is coming for their organizations. We really dive in and let you get to know people like Emily Lohse-Busch, the executive director of Arch Grants, Felicia Shaw, the executive director of the Regional Arts Council, or in our newest release, Tom Ridgely, the new executive producer of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. We also help you get to know the authors – both local and national – who come to town through our numerous author interviews, in partnership with Maryville University, Left Banks Books, and the Saint Louis County Library.
Meeting You Where You Are - Any Device, Anytime, Any Medium We’re always experimenting with new technology, striving to be present for you in ways television has never been before – as such, we aren’t just television anymore. We’re covering and broadcasting important community events, and we’re there at events like TEDxGatewayArch, the Saint Louis Art Fair, documentary premieres, or the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership Annual Luncheon. Come visit our booth at the Saint Louis Art Fair in September – we’d love to meet you, and we enjoy being in the community with you. In addition to our segments, we produce full length documentaries, this print publication, numerous blogs, and news and content sent through social media. We’re dipping into audio and podcasts soon, and we’re looking at where else we should be to use new technology to illustrate and illuminate information important to you and our community.
Our online events calendar gives you a list of events and exhibits in St. Louis to attend and, through our new website, we’re on whatever device you prefer, whenever you want us. We’re always happy to hear your feedback on how we can best serve you and the wider St. Louis community. Because of our goal to be wherever you need us, in whatever format fits, we’ve dropped the TV from our name, as well as the longer Higher Education Channel. We are so much more than TV, and we’re happy to greet you simply as HEC now.
Solutions-Based Broadcaster “One thing we’ve tried to be for St. Louis is solutionsbased,” says Riggs. “We’ve always tried to say - ‘Ok, something bad happened. Where’s the solution and how can we help the community pull together and find a right for this wrong.’”
It’s what we did when we got involved with the Saint Louis University Mini-Law School, it’s what we did with our education programming, and it’s something we have really tried to focus on with all our segments. We are continuing to focus on solutions for our region when we roll out our #SolutionsFromSTL program. We are laying the groundwork to tackle some important issues facing our region from a solutions and action perspective - looking at what each of us can do to build our community up and solve those issues. Educate.Today is another of our solutions-based approaches to education. Through Educate.Today, we provide quality educational videos that keep students engaged and interested in learning, along with lesson plans and professional development for the teachers and parents guiding children through those lessons. It’s a
video resource where parents can feel comfortable letting kids explore because everything there is of the utmost quality - in production values and in content.
A New Look For HEC As we continue to improve our web presence, all our content geared for teachers, students, and life-long learners now lives on its own website at www.educate. today. This innovative new site combines leading experts and technology into hundreds of standard-based videos and interactive learning programs to be used in classrooms, small groups, and individualized learning settings. HEC’s main website has gotten a facelift as well. At the new www.hecmedia.org, you can read, listen, and stream all the content you know and love, including all of our documentaries. At www.hecmedia.org you won’t just find a better looking, easier to use, organized layout. Our shows you once knew as State of the Arts, Innovations, Behind the Minds, and others are simply “Arts,” “Science and Technology,” and “Education” genres respectively. This will make it easier to find the best content for you (with the most recent content at the top of the genre page), whether you’re looking for an article or video, it will all be on one page. In short, we’ve been part of the St. Louis community since 1981, and we’re thrilled that you are part of our HEC community. Please, let us know how we can better engage with you and where you want to engage with us. What do you want to see from your regional community broadcaster - be it print, film or audio? We’re always listening. After all, it takes a village to make the village even better. It’s our honor and privilege to help lead this effort to success for St. Louis.
an inside look at the gateway arch renovations 11 By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Projects and Programs Producer
When the Gateway Arch National Park showed off its impressive new look on July 3, HEC was there. In a series of behind-the-scenes segments on hecmedia.org, we looked at the new museum and Arch Grounds as well as the the National Park Service’s plans for the park. That day was a long time coming. The idea for the Gateway Arch National Park was first conceived in the early 1930s by civic leader Luther Ely Smith who hypothesized that building a memorial at the riverfront would both revive the riverfront and stimulate the economy. With then-Mayor Bernard Dickmann and legislator Leonor K. Sullivan joining him as champions, the city managed to raise their portion of the funds required and finally convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 7253 on December 21st, 1935, approving the memorial, declaring the area as the first National Historic Site, and allocating a total of $6.75 million of federal funds toward the project. The international contest to design the memorial officially opened on May 30, 1947, and on February 18 of the following year the jury unanimously chose the
unique design of a young relatively unknown architect Eero Saarinen. “He didn’t want anything that was limited to the Earth. He wanted something that was lofty and rose into the sky to demonstrate the ideals - to demonstrate how it takes a leap of faith to do anything monumental, and have it be something that was not a traditional obelisk, tower or dome,” said Rhonda Shier, the Chief of Museum Services and Interpretation at the Gateway Arch National Park. “He thought the arch would be unique and impressive. It’s very, very tall, and the people who judged the competition said they agreed - they loved it.” Our National Park - the “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial” was finally founded in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States. The park stretches from the Old Courthouse to the steps overlooking the Mississippi River. There were more delays to come, but when when the Arch was completed on October 28, 1965, the monument Cont. on page 12
Cont. from page 11
886 tons of stainless steel fashioned into a seamless arch with such precision that if either leg had been off by more than a fraction of an inch it would not have joined properly in the middle - stood as a shining beacon for the city. Our national park received few updates after that date until this massive, five-year, $380-million renovation project started construction in 2013 - though the planning and fundraising actually began in earnest back in 2011. It has been a massive undertaking - completely redesigning the grounds around the riverfront and Arch, Kiener Plaza, and a completely new museum—and we’re not done yet! Renovations to the Old Courthouse are coming soon. “They’ve done a great job with the renovation, and you know, this is the first time in 52 years that there’s been a major renovation, so it was something I think was desperately needed,” Former Cardinal and Baseball Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith told HEC at the grand opening.
Bob Moore, the Gateway Arch National Park historian, had the monumental task of distilling St. Louis and the Arch’s history into just six galleries. “We’ve especially tried to be sensitive and tell stories that highlight all the diverse groups of people who were here in St. Louis,” said Moore - especially individuals who often wouldn’t be included in the history books. One central message the museum designers and historians kept in mind throughout - why is the Arch here? “First, to symbolize that St. Louis was a gateway, especially to the American West back in the 1900s, but also there was more to it. There were all the people who stayed here - who did all the manufacturing and worked on the riverboats, and the railroads, and all the other things that made St. Louis the great city that it became, and all emanated from this spot where the Arch is today,” said Moore. “So we wanted to try to tell that story.”
High School or College? The World of Dual Enrollment By: Linda Chuvala, Educate.Today Team Member
High school has traditionally been the place to prepare for college, but for some of today’s students, high school has become a replacement for college, due to the increasing presence of dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment, which allows students to enroll in college courses and receive credit while in high school, is increasing in popularity. Students have a variety of courses to choose from including general education, vocational, and technical courses. Depending on the district, classes can be taken at a local college or university, high school or online. Tuition is offered at a reduced price, and students get a chance to experience the challenge of college coursework. The cost is usually divided between the school district, the higher education institution, and the student. Dual enrollment can reduce the amount of time it takes for students to receive their degrees, and, in some districts, students can receive certifications upon graduation. Additionally, dual enrollment looks good on college applications. Students and parents, however, should be equally aware of the challenges of dual education, and be sure that the student is ready for these courses. Parents should also ensure that the school districts and the colleges or universities are equipped to handle the financial burden, and can provide a quality education with the reduced budget that comes with dual enrollment programs. Students and parents should be prepared to pay at least a portion of tuition and book fees, and be prepared for the additional burden of time and finances incurred from commuting. High school can be a busy and stressful time for students. The workload required in a college class is more intense than many high school classes, and students are expected to perform at the college level. The maturity of the student, as well as the intellectual capacity must be considered to ensure that dual enrollment is not a negative experience. Don’t forget that the grade received for dual enrollment courses will appear on the student’s permanent college record if the student’s chosen college or university accepts the credit. Therefore, students should inquire about what credit their prospective schools will accept.
School districts must also consider the pros and cons of dual enrollment programs. As the demand for dual enrollment increases, school districts must ensure that the funding will be available to all students who wish to participate. School budgets are already tight, and deficits can result in requests for tax increases or increasing deficits. Furthermore, districts that use their high school teachers as instructors are often challenged by the credentials required to teach dual enrollment classes, creating a teacher deficit. Dual enrollment can have an impact on higher education institutions as well. While it increases enrollment, the tuition is usually at a reduced rate, and changes the dynamics of the institution’s finances. When high school teachers are used to teach these courses the cost can be mitigated, but often with credential requirements the Institutions must use thier own instructors instead. Hiring more adjunct/part-time faculty frequently solves budget issues in higher education, but this has challenges as well. Often, adjunct instructors do not know their teaching assignment until days before the term begins, giving them less time to prepare. As participation in dual enrollment increases across the country, parents, students and educational institutions should consider whether these programs’ costs outweigh the benefits. Are students ready to enroll in college classes, can school districts financially support the growing number of dual enrollment students, and can the college or university provide quality education when tuition is reduced? As students prepare to return to school, we might ponder: is this high school, or is this college?
n e Denny reagan p O ic: M President and CEO of the Muny
omeone once offered an analogy for The Muny. “The Muny,” she said, “is like a mighty ship, streaming through the ocean. Crews are hired on, and crews leave, each in their turn keeping the ship afloat, then moving on; and the ship just keeps on its way.”
I’ve been lucky enough to be a crewmember on that ship for 50 years next summer. I started working at The Muny while I was in high school, in 1968. How could I know when a buddy told me there was an opening for a picker at The Muny that I’d be there fifty years later, celebrating the 100th Season? I didn’t even know what a picker was. I soon learned. Pickers went into the Muny auditorium the morning after a show, early, to avoid the heat. We picked up trash from the night before, then hosed down the cement so it would be ready for that night’s audience. There’s a stalwart crew of young men who carry on the proud tradition. 1968 marked the 50th anniversary, and the year that Hello, Dolly! with Pearl Bailey closed in New York and came to St. Louis. I was a kid at the time, and didn’t realize what a huge deal it was, but I do remember Pearl Bailey.
Ethel Merman was there that summer in Call Me Madam; Eddie Albert and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. starred in My Fair Lady. Our Show Boat was captained by Arthur Godfrey, and The Sound of Music made its Muny
debut with newcomer Florence Henderson.
I returned to The Muny the following season, and worked every summer after that. I held several Muny jobs between high school and college: a dresser for the costume department, a runner, a driver for the performers. As a driver I met some interesting people. Jim Nabors, aka Gomer Pyle was one. It was my job to meet him at the airport and then take him wherever he might want to go. He wanted to see the theatre. I drove the car up onto the stage, and held the door open. Nabors stepped out, took a look around at the 11,000 seats and said, “Golll-lee!” I’ll never forget it. And my mother never forgot when I volunteered her for Sunday laundry duty for a pair of young parents scheduled to perform at The Muny. She indulged my somewhat misplaced generosity, and Sonny and Cher’s whites were never whiter. Disney produced its first stage musical at The Muny in 1969, with Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. That same year, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson starred in the world premiere stage production of State Fair. I remember sitting backstage, talking with Harriet, who was as nice in person as she was on TV. Shortly after I graduated from
UMSL with a degree in business, I accepted a job as the purchasing agent at Essmueller Manufacturing. I continued working nights at The Muny as a dresser, and when Bill Culver, the manager of The Muny, offered me a job as his assistant, I left the manufacture of conveyors behind me forever and never looked back. The Muny in those days was headed by Culver, and Ed Greenberg served as artistic director. Those were the years of “package” shows, when stars would take a musical on the road during the summer season. Vincent Price toured with Damn Yankees, Donald O’Connor and Eve Arden starred in Little Me, and St. Louis was treated to Chita Rivera in Anything Goes. Pre-Broadway tryouts were fairly common throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, and before it hit New York, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers played The Muny. It starred Howard Keel and Jane Powell, the originals from the MGM movie. I fell in love with Bernadette Peters, when she and Robert Preston tried out Mack and Mabel in Forest Park in 1974. The Muny experimented with concerts for several years, and many St. Louisans still have memories of Glen Campbell, Sting, and Whitney Houston performing here. Not naming names, but I’ll say that some of us old-timers have memories of strict guidelines for dealing with the rock stars. Backstage access was sometimes curtailed, and rules were clear as to whom we could speak to and when. As the ‘80s drew to a close, I had advanced to director of theatre operations, and in 1991 I became the
15 general manager and CEO of The Muny.
respecting the theatre’s tradition and history.
It was right about then that Paul Blake became the executive producer, and together we took the theatre in a new direction. We returned to our original status as a “producing theatre,” and since then virtually every show that has played our stage has been “home-grown,” built in St. Louis from the ground up. The touring star system that had brought so many names to The Muny in the ‘70s and ‘80s began to crumble. In the ‘90s, talented Broadway performers populated the Muny stage, much as they had in The Muny’s earliest days.
We’re looking ahead now to “what comes next.” Plans are in the works for major upgrades to the stage, and technical aspects are being advanced to match modern theatrical tastes. Everything’s still in the planning stages, and the changes will roll out within the next several years. Just as we were the first outdoor theatre to employ state-of-the-art sound and light equipment, we will keep up with what’s new in New York. After all, if it’s good enough for Broadway, it’s good enough for The Muny. Only bigger!
Mike Isaacson took the Executive Producer/Artistic Director position in 2013, and despite the rapidly changing face of entertainment, has made The Muny a relevant option for the 21st century while loving and
Now, as we face our second century, the great ship Muny continues its voyage through the currents, as polished as it’s ever been. For those of us who work there, it’s one heck of a job. And for those of you who are our guests…welcome aboard!
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We are working extremely hard here at HEC to make some major, important changes. It’s all part of our dedication to serving you and strength...
Published on Aug 15, 2018
We are working extremely hard here at HEC to make some major, important changes. It’s all part of our dedication to serving you and strength...