Let' s make memories. Bob
Monday August 30, 1948
St. Louis Habit
Seven nights a week the huge lights in St. Louis' Forest Park flash on,
flooding the park with a blinding glarethe signal to the audience
that the show is over. One night next week when the lights blaze, about
12,000 Municipal Opera fans will rise to 'their feet and roar out Auld
Lang Syne with the cast, as they have regularly at the close of St.
Louis' summer operetta seasons since 1919.
As they make their way out of their leafy open-air theater, St. Louisans
can be comfortably proud of their Municipal Opera, which is neither
municipally owned nor opera. Philadelphia's summer concerts in Robin
Hood Dell had folded in midseason, and Manhattan's popular Lewisohn
Stadium concerts had limped through to an $84,000 deficit. But the St.
Louis company has taken in the most money ($650,000) of any season in
its history, and played to its biggest one-night audience (11,935 f°r a
performance of Rio Rita) during its 12½-week season.
The "Muny" has gone in the hole only twice in its historyonce 30 years
ago, when a flash flood washed away half the scenery and instruments on
opening night, and once during the depression. Both times the backers
were paid back within two years. One big reason is that their summer
opera has become a family habit for St. Louisansfrom grandma to the
kids. Another reasonand perhaps a bigger oneis the quality of its
performances. Even a foreign critic from Dallas recently admitted that
St. Louis' Municipal Opera is to summer operetta companies "what the
Metropolitan is to grand opera." Unlike the Met, however, the Muny has
The Muny has tried to put on grand opera only four times, and with
little success. Instead, it offers a first-rate production of light
opera and musical comedywith first-rate casts. Some summer-opera
alumni: Irene Dunne, Gary Grant (he was then Archie Leach), Allan
Jones, Red Skelton, Cass Daley, Virginia Mayo. The orchestra is largely
recruited from the St. Louis Symphony, and the producers, directors and
designers are professionals from Broadway and Hollywood.
For the final show, the audiences saw Up in Central Park, with several
members of its Broadway cast. The big favorites, however, are such
sentimental standbys as The Great Waltz, Show Boat and Babes in
Toyland. The directors usually bypass Broadway hits like One Touch of
Venus or Bloomer Girl, considering them too gamy for the family
From Time Magazine trade.http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,799104,00.html
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