77 episodes

The Muni is the largest all-volunteer theater in the country and its history is as rich as the musicals that have graced its stage. Join us as we talk with those who have brought "Muni Magic" to life in a variety of ways, and learn what makes this theater so unique.

The Muni Story The Muni Oral History Project

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

The Muni is the largest all-volunteer theater in the country and its history is as rich as the musicals that have graced its stage. Join us as we talk with those who have brought "Muni Magic" to life in a variety of ways, and learn what makes this theater so unique.

    Julie Ratz

    Julie Ratz

    Julie has been a choreographer and performer in a number of Muni shows. Julie made her Muni debut assisting Grace Nanavati with the choreography for Hans Christian Andersen in 1993. Since then, she has played Tiger Lily in our production of Peter Pan in 2001 and has performed in Chicago in 2006, Jesus Christ Superstar in 2010 and Crazy for You in 2012. Some of the productions that she has choreographed include our productions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2001, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 2004 and Miss Saigon in 2007. She assistant directed/choreographed our productions of All Shook Up in 2014, West Side Story in 2015 and Legally Blonde in 2018. Julie recently left her position as the Artistic Director of the Springfield Ballet Company. Julie, along with fellow Muni alums Grace Nanavati, Ronda Brinkman and Gina DeCroix Russell are reviving the Copper Coin Ballet Company, which is rooted in Muni history.



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 24 min
    Sandra Dehner Wheeler

    Sandra Dehner Wheeler

    Sandra was one of the Muni's first leading ladies when the organization was revitalized after the fire and returned to the site in 1965. Sandra actually made her Muni debut in the Tent at the Lake production of Carousel in the early sixties. When the Muni was revitalized and returned to the site in 1965, she was Nellie Forbush in the second production that year, South Pacific. Other roles that Sandra played include Ella Peterson in Bells Are Ringing in 1969, Maria in The Sound of Music in 1972, Margo Channing in Applause and Mame Dennis in Mame in 1975. Sandra stopped performing at the Muni when she got an Equity card. Sandra also had a supporting role in the 1978 miniseries, The Awakening Land, which starred Elizabeth Montgomery and Hal Holbrook. That miniseries was filmed at Riverside Park and New Salem. Sandra's family has also been heavily involved with the Muni, as her children and some of her grandchildren have also been involved.



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 59 min
    Sara Baltusevich Goeckner

    Sara Baltusevich Goeckner

    Sara has been a performer and vocal director for a number of Muni shows. She made her Muni debut as an orphan in Annie in 1998. Some of the roles that she has played include Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 2005, Cinderella in Into the Woods in 2010 and Nellie Forbush in South Pacific in 2016. She has also vocal directed our productions of Crazy for You and Disney's Beauty and the Beast, both in 2012, and The Wizard of Oz in 2019. Sara also has a very special connection to the Muni because she met her husband, Jeremy, during our 2010 production of Into the Woods. Sara is a private voice and piano teacher for children.



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 42 min
    Dennis Rendleman

    Dennis Rendleman

    Dennis has been a performer in a number of Muni productions over the years. He made his Muni debut playing Che in our first production of Evita in 1985. Some of the other roles he has played include Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady in 1989, King Arthur in Camelot in 1990, Cervantes/Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha in 1992, Buddy in City of Angels in 1995, Judas in Godspell in 1998 and Luther Billis in South Pacific in 2002. Dennis has also been a frequent historical reenactor, most notably portraying Ulysses S. Grant.



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 49 min
    Anna Bussing Maisenbacher

    Anna Bussing Maisenbacher

    Anna has been a performer, choreographer and director for many Muni productions. Anna made her Muni stage debut as Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis in 1995. Her first leading role at the Muni was that of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden in 1997. She was also an orphan in Annie in 1998 and in the chorus of Big in 2003. Some of the roles that Anna has played at the Muni include Martha in our second production of The Secret Garden in 2008, Polly Baker in Crazy for You in 2012, Peter Pan in 2013, Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde in 2014, Billie Bendix in Nice Work if You Can Get It in 2016, Betty Haynes in White Christmas in 2017 and Millie Dilmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2019. Anna has also choreographed our productions of High School Musical in 2010, Hairspray in 2011, Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 2012 and Peter Pan in 2019. Anna made her Muni directorial debut with All Shook Up in 2014. She has also directed our productions of West Side Story in 2015 and Legally Blonde in 2019. Anna currently serves on the Muni Board of Managers.



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 46 min
    Mary Kate Smith

    Mary Kate Smith

    Mary Kate is one of the Muni's leading ladies. She made her Muni debut in Godspell in 1998. She went off and worked professionally in Los Angeles and Chicago for several years doing voice work and other projects. She was in Tony n' Tina's Wedding in Chicago. After returning to Springfield, Mary Kate returned to the Muni stage playing Amneris in Elton John & Time Rice's Aida in 2006. Other roles Mary Kate has played include Ellen in Miss Saigon in 2007, Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar in 2010, Fantine in Les Misérables in 2013, Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins in 2017 and Eva Perón in Evita in 2019. In addition to performing, Mary Kate has also vocal directed several shows including Legally Blonde in 2018. Mary Kate is a fine arts teacher at PORTA Elementary School. 



    Want to get involved in this project? Email history@themuni.org.

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

GoStLouisCards ,

Interesting, Entertaining, & Fun!

Even if I myself weren’t a member of The Muni Family, I’d def listen to this wonderful podcast!

I myself joined The Muni Family nearly 30 years ago in the Summer of 1994.

Today in 2022, after being Cast in 8 Muni Productions and def a few more as an audience member over the years, I joyfully enjoy hearing some of my fellow cast members in these awesome podcasts!

The great and talented men & women that have helped ‘build’ The Muni over the years are heard here ‘in their own words,’ recalling their memories and historical facts about ‘Broadway Under the Stars!’

I can’t wait to hear more…

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