Late Night Theatre Returns, and It’s Golden!

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.

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