ST. LOUIS — The Muny is St. Louis’ summertime theater destination. It’s a huge tradition, and it opens Monday evening with “Chicago.”

Unfortunately, it’s opening during the first heat event of the summer, with an excessive heat warning in place through Wednesday. Eric Pugh, the director of marketing for The Muny, said their focus is safety and hydration for both their acting company and audience members. 

“Audience safety is number one of course, but you know, we just encourage people to have water and keep hydrated. And you know, the good thing is the sun does go down a little bit so it does start to cool off in the evening when the show starts,” said Pugh. “Inside the actual audience section of the theatre, we have the fans. We have new blowers that are happening. I was just at tech last night and sitting in the seat. It was nice and breezy.” 

Pugh said they have a hydration person on campus for the acting company for both Chicago and Camelot, which is in rehearsals this week. He said they’re used to it as heat and humidity are common during St. Louis summers.  

We also spoke with Dr. Robert Poirier, a Washington University emergency medicine physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, who warns about the dangers of the heat. He said they are already seeing some heat-related cases, especially in the elderly and those with medical conditions on medications that make them more prone to heat issues. 

If you don’t have air conditioning, call 211 to find the nearest cooling shelter. If you have to be outside, listen to your body and keep hydrated. Stay away from alcohol, beverages with caffeine, and those high in sugar. Of course, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing that are breathable and that won’t absorb the heat from the sun. 

It’s important to have a wet towel around you or even in a cooler so you can throw it on your neck or face. Carry around ice water. Also, some frozen or cooled down, chilled watermelon is great. Especially if you’re going to be outside doing construction, if you work outside, you’re going to the Muny, going to the baseball game. All those things will help keep you hydrated,” said Dr. Poirier. 

If someone is experiencing vomiting, confusion, fainting episodes, stroke-like symptoms or you stop sweating and your body temp is going up almost like you have a fever, those are times to call 9-1-1. Dr. Poirier said heat exhaustion can set in in as little as one to two hours in this type of heat.