Friday, June 30, 2017

A Little Bit Of Muny Magic

They don't call it Muny magic for nothing! And we've been so blessed to see two shows there already this summer.

Grace was excited for Charley's first Muny!
For as long as I can remember, the St. Louis Muny has been a great place to make some wonderful family memories.  Mom and dad took Johnny and I to a show each summer, and that's really where my love of theater began. And I continued to make the summer trips to the Muny as I became an adult as well.

Grace and daddy hanging out before the show.
The first summer Kyle and I were dating, we made a trip to the Muny almost every week to see the shows.  Kyle only skipped one week because he refused to see High School Musical with me. But we've always had a really good time there together.

Mommy and Charley at Jesus Christ Superstar
Grace's first show was Aladdin, when she was just ten months old.  She seemed to enjoy the music, and fell asleep in my lap for the entire second act.  That same summer, we took her to see Dreamgirls, and even though we left at intermission, it was still a great show.  We also added Seuessical, the Musical to her repertoire a few years later.

Charley's first Muny!
It seems like it had been a few summers since we had made the trip to St. Louis for the Muny. But we've already been to two shows this summer, and we've loved every minute.

Watching the Muny is hard work!
Sort of on a whim, Kyle asked me if we wanted to take the girls to see Jesus Christ Superstar on opening night.  It's always been his mom's very favorite show, and even though she had to work that night, we thought it would be fun to take the girls.

Hanging out with my girls after the show
As soon as we got off work that night, I fed Charlotte and we loaded up the girls.  We decided it would be easier to find a nice shady spot to feed Grace when we got there, and we did.  It was the first time we brought Grace that we had seats in the accessible rows, and it worked out great.  Grace got to sit in her own chair, and I think she was more comfortable.

Meeting Constantine Maroulis, who played Judas
While we were sitting in the courtyard feeding Grace, I started telling Kyle that I had been watching the news that morning and they were talking about some of the cast. He started to look up the actors on his phone, and found that American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis was playing Judas. Since we try to give Grace as many experiences as possible, Kyle tweeted to him and asked about meeting after the show.

Meeting Bryce Ryness, who played Jesus
When we got done feeding Grace, we made our way to our seats, and enjoyed the truly fabulous show. The music was just wonderful, and the cast was great. There's just something about watching a show under the stars at The Muny that's just magical.  Charlotte slept a bit during intermission, but was very content the entire show to sit on my lap.  

After the final bow, we waited a few minutes for some of the crowds to clear out, and Kyle was still hoping we might have a chance for Grace to meet Constantine. As we gathered up our belongings, Kyle was a little disappointed that we hadn't heard anything. But as we were heading to the van, we noticed a crowd gathering around one of the entrances. So, we decided to wait a few minutes and see if we could meet him.

And it worked!  We put the girls in a small line where the crowd was waiting to get autographs on their programs.  Kyle introduced Constantine to Grace and asked if he would take a photo with our girls.  He greeted Grace warmly and asked how she liked the show.  It was a really special moment for us to watch him talk to her.  After Constantine came through the line, another actor, Bryce Ryness, who played Jesus, also stopped by to greet our girls. What touched me the most was that they both specifically interacted with Grace, not just us.  Even though Grace can't necessarily respond to them, it meant so much that they made her feel important too.

Before we left for the show that night, I had some reservations about taking both girls.  Would it be too hot? What if Charlotte cried a lot? What if it was too late when we got home?  All my worries were quickly gone once we got there, and enjoyed a family night together making memories.  There is just so much truth to the phrase, "Muny magic."

So, when the next week rolled around, we thought it would be fun to take the girls to see The Little Mermaid.  It's one I'd never seen on stage before, even though I have seen the movie a zillion times.  We got accessible seats once again, and even though Grace sat on my lap for a bit in the beginning, it was nice for her to have a place for her chair too.  

Grace was excited to see The Little Mermaid
It was another beautiful night, and the big outdoor fans do so much to keep patrons from getting too warm.  The music was fantastic with both songs we knew and some that we didn't. They had some really great puppeteers too throughout the performance. My personal favorites were Ursula's tentacles.  

Kyle and Charley cheesing in the line
But the highlights of the performance for both of us was during one big production number when two young actors were wheeled out in wheelchairs as part of the dance ensemble. Kyle and I both teared up watching them, knowing what a bright spot it was for these youngsters. They had a chance to "dance" on the Muny stage, something they probably never imagined they would be able to do. Special thanks to the Muny for honoring inclusion, and letting people of all abilities know that anything is truly possible.  I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Family photo op
This time, we didn't stick around afterward to meet any of the actors, we just loaded the girls up into the van in their mermaid pajamas.  Charlotte, who slept the entire second act, entertained herself the whole drive home, and was still wide awake at midnight when we pulled the van back into the drive.  I think she was still excited from the show.

Wearing their mermaid pajamas on the way home
On the drive home, Kyle and I started talking about how much we thought Grace actually got out of the experience.  Since she's not able to tell us, we don't know exactly how much she sees or hears.  I feel like she is able to see some things right in front of her face, as she still responds to the pictures in books. And I know she hears us talking to her, but neither of us know how much she takes in at something like The Muny.

But we didn't let that worry us. One thing we do know for certain is that Grace loves to be with us. And that feeling is definitely mutual for all of us. We feel so blessed to have so many wonderful opportunities to make memories together on our Grace-Filled Journey. Whether or not we get to any more Muny shows this summer or not, we will always remember our nights filled with "Muny magic."


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