Late Night Theatre’s stars reminisce about their wild ride.

Late Night's Morning After 

Late Night Theatre’s stars reminisce about their wild ride.

For a decade, Late Night Theatre has been home to the wildest, most gender-fucked, burlesque satires Kansas City has ever known. Last week, founder Ron Megee announced that heaping debts and skyrocketing rents have finally killed the party. Here, the stars of Late Night tell their epic tale.

Ron Megee: In late 1996, we started Late Night Theatre with The Birds at the Westport Coffee House. We called it that because we were only doing 11 p.m. shows. I wanted Late Night to be a company, so the people cast for The Birds went on to do Stepford Wives.

David Wayne Reed: I'd fallen in love and just broken up, and I was tired of not acting. That New Year's Eve of '97, I made a proclamation: I'm going to audition again. The first one I saw was for The Birds.

Megee: It used to be so improvisational that you wouldn't know we had a script. When we'd revisit the early shows later, lots of those improvised bits would now be scripted in.

Reed: Philip Blue Owl [Hooser] shoved a whole Twinkie into Ron's mouth one night in Stepford Wives. Ron couldn't talk, and he had to get through the scene. From then on, every night, Ron ate a Twinkie.

Corrie Van Ausdal: The first show I saw was the Stepford Wives in 1997, when I was 19. It had a profound effect on me. I moved back to Ohio but kept my LNT program and would take it out and look at it and wish I could be part of such an awesome theater. It's one of the reasons I decided to move back here after college.

Reed: People kind of started looking at us like we were stars. Ron, Jon Piggy Cupit, DeDe Deville, Philip Blue Owl Hooser — these are the faces people associate with it. Ron was already a local celeb, which helped. We all rode his coattails a bit at the beginning.

Gary Campbell: I must say that Ron Megee always paid his actors and designers for their talent. This could be part of LNT's downfall, but Ron wouldn't have it any other way.

Reed: Other theaters would say things like "Here's 50 boxes of secretary outfits." People really wanted to help us out. We were the weird little sisters.

Megee: We did Valley of the Dolls, The Birds and The Stepford Wives at the Kemper. Crosby Kemper loved our theater, and he hooked us up. The year Crosby found out his Georgia O'Keeffe was fake, we hung a big Georgia O'Keeffe on the wall. When the birds were attacking me, I pulled it off and I said "Here! Make them go through this! Don't worry — it's fake!" It was so much fun. Crosby would pay us, I think, out of his own pocket. He'd sit in the front row.

Reed: Outside [at The Stepford Wives at the Kemper in August 1998] were lines upon lines. Throngs! At the opening, when we wheeled in our shopping carts, we had to go all the way around outside and come in through the crowd in the gallery, and I can still hear those wheels rolling and our heels on the marble that whole long walk through that crowd — and I'm getting chills. It was ceremonious. And we were so fucking beautiful.

Megee: We moved into the Old Chelsea, which used to be a strip club and porn theater. Cleaning it out and getting the seats redone and just getting rid of all the heroin needles cost us almost $5,000. There was so much sex stuff. We auctioned off that porn for years. In August 2001, they told us the building was sold. It was going to be knocked down.

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