If you're afraid you'll miss the old Folly, "One Last Look" takes place Saturday, May 20. You can meander around the building, soak in the atmosphere, and write it all down in your Buildings That Have Been Renovated diary. There will be slide shows about the Folly's history, as well as an exhibit of historic photos and archives. It's the Folly as you'll never see it again.
When the stage at 12th and Central opened its doors 100 years ago, it was under a different name -- the Standard Theater until 1901, then the Century Theater until 1922. As the Century, the theater held mostly vaudeville and burlesque shows. Burlesque shows in that day were considered adult humor, but as Kate Egan, events manager at the Folly Theater, says, "If you showed your ankles at that time it was considered burlesque."
After a couple more name changes and 10 years of dormancy during the Depression, the Folly Burlesque opened its doors in 1941. Egan says it was a burlesque house until the late '60s and then ran adult movies until 1974, when it once again closed its doors, supposedly to become a parking lot. But in 1981 it was renovated and has been "running legitimate theater ever since as the Folly," Egan says.
Doug Tatum, executive director at the Folly, says, "Upon its centennial, we want this theater to be a vital active theater in the 21st century, but it also has this whole other layering of historic significance and kind of connects Kansas City with its past." They want her to stand the test of time for the next 100 years -- and look the part as she does it. "It's going to look quite a bit different," says Egan. "She'll be state-of-the-art when she reopens."
Although some things change without much notice and pass by as the natural process of life, the Folly Theater isn't having it that way. The folks at the Folly say that if you listen close enough, you can hear The Grand Old Lady talk. And they think her story is worth telling, preserving, and renovating.
Take "One Last Look" at the Folly Theater before her facelift on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free. For more information, call 816-842-5500.