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It’s somewhat surprising that a show like Golden Girls — so dear to the hearts of gay men — has never been done before by Kansas City’s gender-bending Late Night Theatre. During the group’s 10-year run that ended in 2007, it put together plenty of movie and TV show parodies. In March, the fabulous talents of Late Night Theatre actors will reunite for a new production: Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!!.
Tickets went on sale in January, and the show is 40 percent sold out, according to Ron Megee. He’s the creator of Late Night Theatre and the writer, producer and an actor in this ensemble piece. Megee plays Dorothy (Bea Arthur’s role on the TV show), and the three other Golden Girls are also played by LNT alums: Chadwick Brooks as Rose (originally Betty White), Gary Campbell as Sophia, Dorothy’s mother (played by Estelle Getty) and John Cupit as Blanche (Rue McClanahan’s role). The play also features Martin Buchanan as Stanley, Ryan Gove as the younger Dorothy and Matt Anderson as a younger Sophia.
Besides creating the play, Megee has been starring in drag lately in a role he created called “Anna Full Axis.”
“I’ve been doing drag now on and off in the city and in theatre for 20-some years. I looked around the city, and there wasn’t a 1960s pill-popping divorcee drag queen, so I invented her. And she was born the night of the Madmen party for SAVE Inc.” in 2013.
Megee said it was difficult to pick his favorite role with Late Night Theatre, but “I loved playing Tippi Hedren in The Birds, I loved playing Anne Welles, who was Barbara Parkins, in Valley of the Dolls. I loved playing Rhoda in The Bad Seedling. There’s something about playing a little 8-year-old girl who kills people,” he said, laughing. “I had such a blast playing all those characters through the years. That’s one of the reasons I’m bringing it back now — so we can play some fun characters on stage.”
Megee starred in two roles in the May 2013 Kansas City Artists Against AIDS production of Auntie Mame’d, along with Missy Koonce and other familiar actors. The benefit production raised money for the AIDS Service Foundation. He’s been working at the Coterie Theatre this year directing School House Rock Live! and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One of his newest gigs is hosting “Ron Megee’s Broadway Tunes on Broadway” every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Industry Video Bar, 3700 Broadway, in Kansas City, Mo.
“I wanted to do this type of bar/theatre that does something different. I haven’t been this excited about theatre in years,” he said of the Golden Girls parody. “We were talking about this even during the Late Night years. My favorite episode is when they go to the nudist hotel and get naked, and so I based the whole show around that one flashback. And the whole show is flashbacks and it goes crazy, flashback after flashback. … So that’s the whole thing, girls gone wild. We’re playing off of that naughty web show, Girls Gone Wild.”
What’s unusual about this show is that it is being performed in a bar, not a theatre. The show runs March 7-31 and starts at 8 p.m., ending before the 10 p.m. drag or Dirty Dorothy shows. “It ends at 10, and then we go upstairs for a meet and greet and have cocktails with the cast,” Megee said.
Megee explained why he chose a non-theatre venue. “I want to go back to be raw. Right now there’s a big trend across America in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, even Oklahoma City where I saw a couple of shows — people are doing bar events. Theatre troupes are moving into bars and filling that gap when they don’t have a huge clientele with different shows. Also Michael Burnes and the Missie B’s team of Chad, Jan and Jessica, I mean they stepped up. They invited us in, they’re putting new carpets down, fixing up the space, building soundproof walls. I’m very excited about it. I want to step out of true theatre, which is so controlling and you have all of the lights and sound and all. We only will have 12 lights, and the stage will be simple. It’s like, ‘People, get a drink, have a seat, have an experience.’”
Megee said that by performing in a bar, the troupe is also going back to Late Night Theatre’s roots.
“We were in the coffeehouse, in a porn palace and the Hobbs building. We used to be really raw before we moved to Grand, and then we got too big for our britches,” he said.
Late Night Theatre was known for a couple of themes in most productions — at some point, water was flung from a glass or otherwise into the audience, and Crown Royal was always featured onstage or backstage.
When I asked Megee whether the water theme might be recreated he said, “Well, you know, it is a Late Night show, I don’t want to say that there is or there isn’t. It is winter so we’ll be very nice.”
He said that they will also have 20 premier tickets set aside for each show that people can buy in advance at Missie B’s on February 19, and 21-23 from 7-10 p.m. and have a front-row seat for $25. “That gets you a slice of cheesecake and a shot of Crown Royal,” he said. “Then we eat the cheesecake with you on stage.”
When speaking about the Crown Royal theme, Megee said, “It built our theatre. I had to have my liver replaced three times.” The cheesecake is being used to be authentic to the Golden Girls show because, Megee said, they ate cheesecake in many of the kitchen scenes.
Megee said that other actors will be brought on stage to play ex-husbands and other characters. They will also bring special guests on stage from the Late Night Theatre family like David Wayne Reed, Darryl Jones and Jessica Dressler.
“All the people that started at Late Night are coming back each night, and there will be a spot for a special guest star,” he said.
Megee said that another aspect of going back to their roots is that they are selling tickets through Central Ticket Office, which they used in their early years.
“Central Ticket Office is the only place in town that, when LNT started in 1997, would give us the time of day and sold our tickets for us. They would come at 11 at night and sit in a dirty basement and sell them there. It was so sweet. So we’re going back to our roots,” Megee said.
Megee said that based on this production, he’s open to doing more plays at Missie B’s. He said he’d love to work with Missy Koonce on an all-female-cast production of some series.
“Wouldn’t you love to see an all-female cast of The Andy Griffith Show?” he asked. “Yes, you would,” he answered himself with a laugh.
Megee, 46, lives with his partner, Jon Fulton Adams, in an 1884 Victorian mansion that they call Chestnut House and are slowly restoring in the Northeast area of Kansas City.
“It’s our little decaying world that we like to hide in,” he said. They share their home with their two dogs and three outdoor chickens. “We get three eggs a day. I get 21 eggs a week,” he said.
“We got married in Kansas City with a real priest, but of course it doesn’t count in Missouri. We got married seven years ago in front of 250 of our closest friends. We follow all the rules of marriage, so that’s all good. We discussed we wouldn’t get officially married until Missouri switched over. You better start looking for your bridesmaid outfit, John,” he said with a laugh.
Megee invites everyone to buy their tickets for Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!! and revisit Late Night Theatre or see the troupe’s style of parody for the first time.
“It’s a reunion of Late Night friends and family getting back together for two hours of escapism. I just want two hours of escapism, have a drink, relax, laugh, forget your troubles. I mean we’re not trying to change the world. We’re just excited to all be back on stage together as a family.”
Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!! runs from March 7-31 at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St, Kansas City, Mo. Shows start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices are $18 (general admission only) and can be purchased at UMKC’s Central Ticket Office: Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!!Tickets.
Worldwide opera star Renée Fleming will perform in Kansas City on Thursday night, November 18, but the day before, she'll be part of a panel discussion for "Music and the Mind" — a conversation about how music affects the brain, cognitive development, healing and quality of life.
WHAT: Music and the Mind with Renée Fleming
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov 17, 2021
TIME: 4:00-5:30 PM
WHERE: The 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods, KS, 66205
Music has a profound impact and the ability to shape 86 billion neurons in the brain for cognitive development, healing, and therapy. Science research has clearly shown that music therapy interventions can improve quality of life across nearly all neurological disorders. And there is tremendous public-interest in applying music to creative aging, childhood development, and community wellness.
But scientists want to know more.
Join soprano Renée Fleming and a distinguished panel of local Kansas City experts in neurology, music therapy, music and healing, and more for this cutting-edge discussion. Audience members will be able to participate in a Q&A following the panel discussion.
*Please note this Music and the Mind Event is not a musical performance*
As Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Renée Fleming has spearheaded a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, with the participation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Sound Health initiative explores and brings attention to research and practice at the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience. This collaboration has led to workshops at the NIH, and events and performances at the Kennedy Center. This initiative has also led the NIH to recently award $20 million dollars in funding for music and neuroscience research over five years.
As part of her advocacy, Fleming is also advisor to the recently launched NEA/UCSF Sound Health Network and co-chair of the Aspen Institute/Johns Hopkins NeuroArts Blueprint, both working to advance the field of arts and health.
This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call the Harriman-Jewell Series at 816-415-5025 to reserve your seat.
WHAT: Renée Fleming, soprano in recital
WHEN: Thursday, Nov 18, 2021
TIME: 7:00 PM
WHERE: Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
COST: Tickets from $25.00 *discounts available for students, educators, first responders, active duty military and veterans with valid I.D.
Pair a glorious voice with a winning personality and you have a diva for the ages. Renée Fleming is a longstanding Harriman-Jewell Series favorite. With her many television and Broadway appearances, Fleming has been embraced by music lovers of all genres.
Whether singing at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Olympics, or Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, Renée Fleming represents opera to the world. In addition to her numerous operatic performances, Fleming often works classic show tunes and the Great American Songbook into her recitals. Fleming’s trademark rapport with audiences will give her Kansas City performance a warmth that is personal and sincere.
Rob Ainsley is pianist for the recital. His diverse career as a musician, conductor, educator, and administrator has taken him to top organizations and colleges from coast to coast. He now serves as Director of the Washington National Opera’s Cafritz Young Artists and American Opera Initiative. Ainsley performed with Renée Fleming in The Metropolitan Opera’s August 2020 “Met Stars Live in Concert” that was streamed worldwide.
ABOUT THE HARRIMAN-JEWELL SERIES
Renée Fleming's recital will mark the 977th performance since the Series was founded in 1965. From free education events that allow interaction with musicians and dancers, to our free Discovery Concerts that are open to the community, the Harriman-Jewell Series continues to offer life-enriching opportunities for its community's youth and lifelong learners.
Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.
The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.
These missionaries have sacrificed their time and paid their own way to go to the poorest place in the Western hemisphere to try to spread God’s love and save some souls. In turn, the missionaries are experiencing a nightmare like they’ve never imagined. They’re imprisoned and being threatened with a bullet in the head.
Most of us will never get over seeing journalists being beheaded and tortured in Syria and Iraq by the barbaric Islamic extremist group called ISIL. Burning people alive and beheading others were too graphic and gruesome to ever be forgotten.
Years ago, I traveled to a third world country on a “missionary trip” with others thinking it would be a nice break. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.
Sadly, the 17 missionaries in Haiti are undergoing a cruel experience that may end with the cost of their very lives. What are they thinking now? What is going through the minds of the little children who traveled to a world to help others and spread God’s love?
Haiti has been the site of years of humanitarian efforts. The United States and other countries have given billions of dollars to help Haiti. Sadly, hurricanes, political unrest, underdevelopment and extreme poverty have all made for a sad scenario.
How much money would the world have to give to Haiti to make life better for this nation? This is a question no one can answer because usually aid is a short-term solution. We spent a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and they aren’t any better off today.
Good missionary people went to Haiti with good hearts for helping others in the name of God’s love. They went to share a message they hoped would bring about change and better lives. They may now lose their lives.
Christians point to Jesus as the model for such missionary efforts. He came preaching and teaching in an effort to demonstrate and spread God’s love and it cost him plenty – his life, executed in public on a cross.
There are some Christians today who, like Jesus, are willing to risk their lives for the sake of others. Did these men and women literally go to Haiti taking their children with them truly believe they could be killed? Would they purposefully do this to their children? Who convinced these people that such a trip with small children was a good idea?
My goal here is to simply say, think about such trips to places like Haiti. Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Nigeria and numerous others countries are not vacation spots. Foreign travel may sound exotic and adventurous but consider the possible cost.
Many missionaries and Christian workers have paid the ultimate price in order to spread the gospel of Christ. Only eternity will reveal what their selfless sacrifice has meant to those whose lives they impacted.
By chance, if you decide such an international trip is not for you, don’t feel bad. Consider helping in an American inner city, Appalachia or maybe your own neighborhood. Service at home is needed across America.
Let’s pray for the safety of these missionaries and for those negotiating their release. May God help them and all who may consider such endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Glenn Mollette is a graduate of numerous schools including Georgetown College, Southern and Lexington Seminaries in Kentucky. He is the author of 13 books including Uncommon Sense, Grandpa's Store, Minister's Guidebook: insights from a fellow minister. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states. Glenn Mollette has been on numerous International humanitarian and missionary group trips. Hear Glenn Mollette every weekday morning EST at 8:56 on XM radio 131. Editor-If you need to tweak or do a small edit for you paper or website that is okay. Please respond to this email if you need a picture for this column. Scroll down for additional biographical info. Buy his latest recording titled "Black Coffee" on iTunes. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com
The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.
Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.
The initiative will award $1 million in grants in the first year, and will ultimately engage trans girls and gender-expansive youth of color in the decision-making process for selecting grantees on an ongoing basis.
While there has been an increase in donor attention to work led by people of color, it has yet to translate into significant gains in funding for trans and gender-expansive youth of color.
According to recent regional studies in Detroit, South Florida and New Orleans, trans women of color face higher levels of hunger, homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and discrimination. At the same time, the majority of this year's record-breaking anti-trans legislation are targeted to affect youth, including bills that prevent transgender athletes from playing in school sports and the "Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act." Research has show sharp rises in suicide attempts among trans youth during 2020 and 2021.
"The reality is transgender and gender-expansive youth of color require more attention, and resources to interrupt the staggering intersections of trauma and crises they experience," said Bré Rivera.
The initiative joins existing funding intermediaries who have been leading the work to resource trans communities and engage trans people in the direction and distribution of resources, including the Third Wave Fund, the Black Trans Travel Fund, and Fund for Trans Generations. As funding partners, the Black Trans Fund and Grantmakers for Girls of Color aim to expand and transform philanthropy's investments in trans and gender-nonconforming youth. The initiative will move resources to organizations serving and led by trans girls and young women of color. It will also amplify narratives that elevate the humanity, dignity and leadership of trans and gender-expansive youth of color, as well as the ways their experiences and contributions have been overlooked, minimized and targeted by oppositional and systemic forces, and larger social justice movements.
The Holding a Sister Initiative will be led by a manager, who will steward culture change through grantmaking, capacity building, narrative shifting and philanthropic organizing. The position is currently open for applicants.
About Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Fiscally-sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) works to mobilize resources and amplify transformative organizing work to dismantle systems of oppression led by girls and gender-expansive youth of color. Grantmakers for Girls of Color openly invites partners and stakeholders to co-create an inclusive space in support of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color across programmatic issues and geographic areas. Learn more by visiting Grantmakers for Girls of Color.
About the Black Trans Fund
The Black Trans Fund is a groundbreaking endeavor: the first national fund in the country dedicated to uplifting and resourcing Black trans social justice leaders. BTF seeks to address the lack of funding for Black trans communities in the U.S. through direct grantmaking, capacity building support, and funder organizing to transform philanthropy. Learn more by visiting Black Trans Fund.