The Folly Theatre has been a mainstay in Kansas City cultural life for over a century. Opened at the waning of the Victorian Era, as the Standard Theatre, it began featuring live theatre, and vaudeville and burlesque shows as public tastes changed (and morals loosened) into the 1920s. The venue was known variously as the Century Theatre and Shuberts Missouri Theatre, even going nameless (as it was closed and the name sanded from the building’s façade) for a decade during the Great Depression.
Under the name Folly Burlesque, the theatre reopened at the advent of American involvement in World War II. The Folly featured rotating burlesque performances five times daily for decades, but slowly declined, even resorting in the early 1970s to showing adult films. By 1974 the Folly was dilapidated, unfit for public performances and closed its doors. The residents of Kansas City, however, would not suffer lightly the decline of ‘The Grand Old Lady of Twelfth Street,’ and engaged in a city-wide effort to bring the Folly back to its former splendor.
In 1981, after seven years of rehabilitation work, the Folly Theatre reopened with a new focus: to bring the highest quality performing arts events in the nation to Kansas City. Today the Theatre continues to uphold that mission, with many event series including the Folly Jazz Series, Folly Kids’ Series, Folly Cypress Avenue Live, and the Harriman-Jewell Series. Arts organizations in residence at the Folly include the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Friends of Chamber Music, and the KC Jazz Orchestra.
Folly Theatre Information
- Public Transportation: Good (accessible by a number of public bus routes)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Approximately 80 events annually
- Ticket Prices: Vary ($5-75) depending on event and seating.