A St. Louis Sensation

By Suzanne Vanderhoef

As part of the whole process of putting together the documentary about the Muny, last summer I interviewed a number of Muny "alum" who started out as Muny Kids then moved up to Muny Teens and were now part of the adult ensemble of the then-current performance of 42nd Street. 

One of the constants of all those interviews was the sense of bonding and commitment these actors felt not only to one another, but to the Muny itself. Without exception, they all expressed what a critical part the Muny played in their childhood and adolescence and what a special place it still holds for them now.  

That enthusiasm made for some particularly enjoyable interviews, so I got a little jolt of excitement myself when I read the program for this season's A Chorus Line and saw Madison Johnson's name. Madison played the role of Kristine, the ditzy newlywed from St. Louis who "just couldn't sing" and I could feel that her character's love of being on stage wasn't just Madison putting on an act.

As she told me last summer, “Coming back to the Muny just feels like, it’s kind of like checking in at your home base, you know? It’s like, you grow up and you learn so much...And then you grow up and you go to high school and you check in again and see how far you’ve come and you get to see how much further you need to go. And then you leave and you go to college and you come back and you realize how darn lucky you were to be there forever and all of a sudden, you realize that this place that just felt, oh it’s the Muny! It’s home, and you realize how lucky you are to be able to call such a place home. It’s just the best thing in the world.”