The Folly Theater: A History

Lauren Prehn, Editor-In-Chief

                                                                     © Aaron Dougherty 

Among the many venues found in Kansas City, one of the most historically rich locations is found at 12th and Broadway Boulevard. Since its opening in 1900, the Folly Theater has hosted thousands of shows and concerts and showcased the talents of countless performers.

For over 110 years, the Folly has flourished as a source of live entertainment. During those years, its ownership and name changed multiple times. On numerous occasion, the Folly was almost shutdown and demolished to be used for other projects. The first closing came in 1922 before it was leased to the Shuberts. In 1932, the theater was once again closed and it reopened in 1941.

By 1973, the Folly Theater was sentenced to demolition to make room for a parking lot. After learning of the plan for the Folly’s demise, Joan Ken Dillon and William Deramus III of the Performing Arts Foundation saved the theater after receiving a $1 million grant for restorations. The Folly reopened in 1981 after extensive renovations and it has remained open ever since, attracting thousands of guests each year to the remarkable site.