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James S. McDonnell Stage

man giving speech to a full audience before a show

As soon as the curtain fell on our 2018 centennial season, we embarked on a monumental scene change: rebuilding our century-old stage, literally from the ground up.

The James S. McDonnell Stage debuted in the 2019 Muny season and brings our production facilities into the modern era with cutting-edge lighting, sound and automation technology. The rebuild addresses critical structural needs and allows The Muny to utilize technology that has become standard across the industry.

The addition of five automated lifts and three scenic tracks makes it possible for sets — and people — to appear almost magically on our 120-foot-wide stage. LED walls were added on either side of the stage, joining an upgraded LED wall in the center. The huge turntable is now automated, and the stage deck itself is removed and stored after each season, which keeps it protected from the elements when it’s not in use. 

The stage's Art Deco design, flanked by a pair of majestic "shells," complements the iconic Muny pergolas. Overhead, the William T. Kemper Foundation Light Bridge holds audio equipment and lights. An underground soil system with irrigation and aeration allows for a better growing environment for our beloved onstage trees.

Stage renovations were made possible by a generous Second Century Capital Campaign gift from Mr. and Mrs. James S. McDonnell III.

As part of the rebuild, the orchestra pit was moved under the stage. The Enterprise Holdings Orchestra Pit remains visible to the audience, but the musicians and their equipment are protected and can work in a more suitable environment.

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