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Arabian Night of Fun

July 9, 2012

By: Jen Cooper

St. Louis had just experienced 10 consecutive days of triple digit temperatures. In fact, the setting of the musical ‘Aladdin’, which was set to be performed that evening at the Muny, was probably closer to what St. Louis had been experiencing. The forecast for July 9th did not promise to be much better. However, as 22 people with Down syndrome and their families gathered at the Gate 2 entrance, the intense heat broke and everyone was in for an exciting and pleasant night.

The Pujols Family Foundation and the Muny have partnered together to offer families with a child with Down syndrome an opportunity to experience this St. Louis tradition. The Municipal Theater, commonly known as the Muny, has its roots in the 1904 World’s Fair. However, the first season of the Muny did not come to realization until 1919. The Muny produces seven shows over the course of the summer season. The community’s love of music and theater has made the Muny a popular destination for its residents for almost a hundred years.

As the group of 60 people was waiting anxiously to start the backstage tour, you could feel the excitement as people were meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Knowledgeable tour guides then led the group through all different aspects of the backstage production including set design, rehearsal spaces, sound, props and costumes. The guide then led the group on-stage to look out onto the 11,000 seat theater. They learned how the sets are changed in under a minute by a circular rotating part of the stage. The families even got a chance to stand on it while it was rotating. After the tour concluded, the group was escorted over to the picnic area where they were able to enjoy their dinner.

As everyone finished their meal, they were not aware that there was still one more surprise. Waiting in the adjoining pavilion was their own personal piano player, waiting to play whatever song they wanted to hear…and sing-a-long with. Person after person energetically lined up for the opportunity to show off their singing skills and choreography to a captivated audience of family and friends. Disney songs were the most popular choice. It was clear from the joyful expressions on their faces, that they were having an amazing time getting to experience a small part of what the actors they were about to watch experience every night.

As their own performances drew to a close, it was time to head to their seats to enjoy ‘Aladdin’ on the main stage. It was a night full of amazing experiences. Whether the family had been to the Muny many times before or they were enjoying it for the first time, everyone walked away with a night that they will not soon forget.

We would like to say a special thank you to the Muny and their staff for making this night possible.

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Date:
July 9, 2012
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