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Theater in the WILD

Jul 30, 2018

Debbie Reynolds literally sang in the rain here. Most of the biggest stars of stage and screen have enjoyed the extra protein of Show Me state bugs and moths while performing. The Muny opera occupies six acres within Forest Park's 1,300 acres in St. Louis. It is the largest, greenest outdoor theater in the nation, in one of the largest urban parks. Stories have been told for years around campfires and the Muny is a special and unique extension of that tradition.

The Muny took shape 100 years ago between two giant oak trees in a natural bowl-shaped amphitheater with a river running through it. Early on there was "trouble right here in river city" as "ol' man river" Des Peres flooded during a thunderstorm and washed the orchestra's instruments away. Today the river has been tamed and offers a wetland show with mink and ducks for audiences in the park. Great care has been taken with the trees that grace the stage and surround the theater. One of the framing oak trees was lost in 2002 at 370 years of age. It's wood is now a boardroom table at the theater. Trees are often specially lit as part of the set for many shows.

The trees are also home to various wildlife in the park as well. A nesting family of raccoons would wander across the light bridge above the stage as if on cue on many nights to the delight of children, who always spotted them first, and their families. Random opossums would wander onto the stage and pause with rapt attention during musical numbers. And then wander off again. A great blue heron once swooped low over the crowd during one pivotal scene. Audiences have been delighted to the sights and sounds of squirrels, foxes, turtles, rabbits, ducks and birds in the park and around the shows. Like nature, there are free seats for every show. The Muny is a unique place where art and nature come together. Nature puts on a show all around the state with lots of wild antics, sounds and beauty to refresh and entertain. You can catch a wild show any season in Missouri.

Special thanks to Bill Borger and The Muny.

Forest Park Fun Facts

  • Forest Park opened in 1876 and is 1,293 acres.
  • It is 450 acres larger than Central Park in New York City.
  • Forest Park hosted the 1904 World’s Fair as well as the 1904 Summer Olympics.
  • The park welcomes 13 million visitors each year.
  • Nearly 45,000 trees can be found in the park.
  • In addition to The Muny, Forest Park is also home to the Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Art Museum.

Facts courtesy of Forest Park Forever and Explore St. Louis

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Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
A fledgling Great-Horned Owl grabs a seat at The Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis

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Raccoons at The Muny
Raccoons at The Muny
Raccoons travel above the stage during a show at The Muny

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