Preview to the Muni – The Springfield Municipal Opera prepares for its 2016 Show Season

Tamar Norville–


The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) is a not-for-profit theatrical organization that has become a Springfield summer tradition, providing the best of Broadway to enthusiastic audiences for more than 60 years. Located lakeside in an outdoor amphitheater, The Muni is one of the largest all-volunteer community theatre organizations in the nation.


“The Muni’s 2016 season will showcase a good mixture of popular classic shows as well as new productions to the Muni stage and central Illinois,” said Mac Warren, Muni president. “The Muni has an exciting year planned for 2016.”


The Muni will present South Pacific, directed by John Sivak and sponsored by Springfield Clinic, June 17-19 and 22-26; Sweeney Todd, directed by Carly Shank and sponsored by Maynerich Financial, July 8-10 and 13-17; Nice Work If You Can Get It, directed by Doug Hahn and Gary Shull and sponsored by Illini Bank, July 29-31 and Aug. 3-7; and Disney’s Little Mermaid, directed by Craig Williams II and sponsored by RSM, Aug. 19-21 and 24-28. All show times will begin at 8:30pm.


Here are short plot summaries for each show:


South PacificTwo Americans find love in the South Pacific during World War II and have to overcome their own cultural prejudices, while under the dark cloud of war.


Sweeney ToddA barber returns to London after being in exile for years to seek revenge on a corrupt judge who tore his family apart. This is a dark comedy.


Nice Work If You Can Get It: A musical set in the 20s, with great dance numbers, and an unlikely love story.


Disney’s Little MermaidDive “under the sea” into a magical underwater kingdom, with the young mermaid, Ariel, who wants nothing more but to leave her ocean home – and her fins – behind and live in the world above.


Since coming to IC and being involved in the theater department, the Muni has been brought up in the spring semester every year.  I have seen a handful of the past season productions and I have always been impressed. The talent is advanced, the productions run well, and the atmosphere unlike any other theater I have been to. I thought it would be a great program to be a part of, so I decided to audition for this season.


The audition process begins with adult auditions, which are held in early March over 2 weekends. Vocal auditions are held in groups of 20 in hour segments in front of all four directors and their team. It is rather intimidating. Dance auditions are shortly after lasting an hour to an hour and a half. And yes, you guessed it; all directors whose shows have dancing in them are watching these auditions as well. Call-backs are announced the final Saturday evening and actors are expected to report the following day. After a long and exhausting Sunday, calls are made to the new cast members that following Monday, known as “Muni Monday”, after 9pm.


All of the directors and their teams then sit down and pick out of over 200 people to find the cast that will best fit their show. Once cast in a show, each member is expected to volunteer at least one other show’s productions. I now understand why everything about the Muni is so intense and professional. The Muni is taken seriously and has great expectations to live up to, and it never fails to deliver. After enduring the audition process, I am pleased to say that I received one of those phone calls and have been cast as Bloody Mary in South Pacific.


The Muni continues to produce four shows a season and each summer the Muni audience continues to grow. With support from sponsors, enthusiastic audiences, and a dedicated and talented corps of volunteers onstage and backstage, the Muni has become one of the largest community theaters in the Midwest. It is said that the Muni is the largest organization of this type in the country that is completely self-supporting, dependent neither on grants nor tax dollars. 

The Muni is a unique jewel in Springfield’s landscape, a beautiful site tucked away at the lake that offers families and friends a venue to spend time together, volunteer, perform, direct and enjoy quality entertainment.  I look forward to making my mark as a part of the Muni Family for the 2016 season.


Tamar Norville, from Batavia, Illinois, is senior Biology/Exercise Science major with a concentration of Sport Psychology and a Music minor. Tamar is a first-time writer for The Rambler and is a member of numerous clubs and organizations on campus.


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