Hi all! Lindsey here, your Muni Moment lead blogger. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Hallmark has started their Countdown to Christmas, Black Friday ads are starting to come out, but best of all the 2020 Muni season has been announced! Last year Muni’s season theme was #WhatsYourWish, taking you on journeys filled with magic, determination, love, and dreams. This year’s theme centers around family, reminding you that family is wherever you feel at home. For me, there was no one better to kick of this season of Blogging Under the Stars, than my own family, and exiting Muni president, Mr. Jim Leach:
The four shows that make up the 2020 Springfield Muni Opera season have one thing in common, and that’s why our theme for this year is #MuniFamily. Families are all very different: some are creepy, kooky, and altogether ooky (The Addams Family); some are swept up in the fast-moving events of history (Ragtime); some are filled with question marks and uncertainty (Mamma Mia!); and some are more difficult to deal with than others (Matilda).
But whatever your family’s shape and size, there is a place for you at the Muni. It’s obviously a wonderful place for families to spend time together on a summer night, enjoying a picnic meal or one of the delicious treats from our concession stand before taking in an entertaining and dazzling show. But for those who bring our productions to life, Muni is a family, too.
I learned this quickly the first time I tried out for a show, back in 2003. I had never done theater of any kind before, and I was nervous about auditioning. What I found was a lot of people who were welcoming, encouraging, and supportive. And after I was cast, I found countless new friends, brought together by our love of performing and our joy in sharing our talents with the audience.
My first year at Muni was also my daughter’s first year, as we were both cast in “The Wizard of Oz.” I learned quickly that Muni is a family affair in more ways than one. Lots of families spend quality time together on-stage in Muni productions. Or perhaps a child is in the show, while mom and dad help out backstage or at the front of the house. And sometimes while a parent is in the spotlight, a child or other family member is taking on other duties to bring the Muni magic to life.
A few years later, my son was also performing in Muni shows, as was the young man who would eventually become my son-in-law (and maybe someday, my grandchildren will be up there, too? I wouldn’t bet against it….). And while most of the family was clambering to get on stage, my wife Lisa – who suffered from one of the worst cases of stage fright on record — also found a family at Muni. Her volunteer work eventually earned her an invitation to serve on the Muni board and to become chair of the concessions committee. She also made lifelong friends and was thrilled to be a part of the Muni family. She passed away unexpectedly in 2015, but is now memorialized on the Muni site, along with many other members of our extended Muni family whose contributions will never be forgotten.
Later, I was honored beyond description to follow in her footsteps and join the Muni board; I recently completed my term as board president. With the constant support of our talented board members, I had the privilege of playing a role in helping our Muni family thrive, and grow, and bring enjoyment to families just like yours. That sense of family is probably the most important legacy of the Muni. And just like in this season’s shows, those families are all different – sometimes quite unconventional. But on our stage, on our staffs and crews, and in our audience, families find a place that is always welcoming, always happy to see you, and ready to go the extra mile to make sure you have a great time when you come to visit.
We hope you will enjoy our 2020 season! We are so glad to have you and your family as part of our #MuniFamily. Throughout the season we will be looking for guest contributors to share what #MuniFamily means to them. Memories are sure to be made this season.
See you under the stars,