Ryan Carpenter Tours Europe with Ian Fisher, Talks of Muny Magic

Carpenter speaks of the Press and Cultural Affairs (PCZ) section of the Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a sector of the Dutch government that funds creative professionals in need. "You just have to apply for it, and it's not hard to get. You can receive money to fund your work. If you're a member of their society, you get money to live."

"You don't have to worry about not getting groceries to live. There are also grants. A lot of grants. It's great, but the art that it produces is shit. It's uninspired. In a matter of speaking, the struggle produces better art. If you want to do something in America, you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. It has to come from your gut, because it's not as easy here as it is over there. And that produces some really exceptional stuff. That's the American style of music that can't be re-created over there."

Now that Carpenter has returned to St. Louis, he will begin his sixth year with the Muny as its pianist. "I fucking love that place," he says enthusiastically. "The Muny is this family, and God, I love that. It's so beautiful." Carpenter does not seem to have grown used to the Muny's hectic rehearsal schedule or its "all or nothing" mantra. Even as he lists the upcoming plays -- Billy Elliot, Tarzan, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, The Addam's Family, etc. -- he unseats himself in palpable glee.

"There's a reason people talk about 'Muny magic.' It's this thing that happens when you have your first rehearsal onstage. Nothing is right, everything is messed up and then you go out there on Monday night to open. There are upwards of 9,000 people there, and everything works. It is completely unexplainable. It is to be envied, but I will be damned to Satan's Hell if it is not a true thing."

The Muny's production of Tarzan began Wednesday, June 25, and ends July 2. It's Carpenter's first show after his six months in Europe. Tickets are on sale now.

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