After 52 years, Denny Reagan, Muny President and CEO, has announced plans to retire in December of 2021. Beginning January 2022, Reagan will assume the role of senior advisor. In this role, leadership will rely on his breadth of experience and knowledge as the theatre completes its Second Century Capital Campaign and smoothly transitions to Reagan’s successor.
“So often people say, ‘I’ve given the best years of my life to my job.’ I’m a lucky man, because my job has given the best years of my life to me. My career has been dedicated to an institution I have always been proud to be a part of, and I’m grateful for the chances and opportunities The Muny has afforded me,” said Reagan. “The last fifty-two years have gone by more quickly than I thought they would, and I turn the stewardship of The Muny over to the next generation with no regrets.”
The Muny Board of Directors has begun the process of identifying Reagan’s successor in the coming months.
A proud St. Louis native, Reagan began his decades-spanning Muny tenure at age 16 as a “picker” on the cleanup crew in 1968 — a summer job he landed through a friend while still a student at Bishop DuBourg High School. Since then, he has held several titles, including assistant manager, director of theatre operations, general manager, and president and CEO — a title he has held since 1991. At the helm for nearly 30 years, he is the longest serving president in The Muny’s 102-year history.
Following a period in the '70s and '80s, during which The Muny booked many touring shows rather than producing its own seasons, Reagan returned The Muny to its roots: producing musicals for St. Louis audiences in St. Louis on an “only at The Muny” scale.
An active member within several local and national arts, civic and academic institutions, Reagan serves on the boards of Great Circle, Central Institute for the Deaf and as a past president and board member for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). He also served for 10 years as a commissioner for the Regional Arts Commission.
“Denny has not only been a vital leader for The Muny, but also has been a pillar of the musical theatre field as a whole. He has consistently shared the invaluable combination of well-informed perspective seasoned with an easy-going sense of humor,” said National Alliance for Musical Theatre Executive Director Betsy King Militello. “On behalf of all of NAMT’s members and staff, past and present, we wish him the very best, but also plan to continue calling on him as a resource!”
In recognition of his lifelong commitment to the arts, Reagan has been honored with numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award in 2018 from the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis.
“Denny’s tenure at The Muny is truly historic in nature. His commitment to American musical theater, to his community and to his team are remarkable not just for their length but also for their depth,” says DeVos Institute of Arts Management Board Chairman Michael M. Kaiser. “His influence on St. Louis will be felt long after he retires from his current position.”
Reagan led the efforts to raise $100 million through The Muny’s historic Second Century Capital Campaign. To-date, the campaign has raised over $85 million. He has also overseen a complete renovation of the 11.5-acre campus and initiated the formation of the theatre’s endowment.
“Denny is an extraordinary leader and has been instrumental in building a sustainable institution ready and able to fill its vital role in our community for the next 100 years,” said Muny Board Chairman and Second Century Capital Campaign Chairman James S. Turley. “After what will be 53 years standing his post, he has earned some peaceful summer nights with his wife, Michelle, and his family.”