In 1900, by the glow of gas street lamps, men in top hats and women in high-button shoes arrive in horse-drawn carriages for the grand opening of Kansas City’s newest theater, the Standard. The theater was as breathtakingly beautiful as she is today.
For the next seven decades, through numerous changes in name and ownership, the Folly built a rich and colorful history. Her walls echoed with the sounds of laughter at Marx Brothers antics, cheers for Gypsy Rose Lee and Fanny Brice, and thunderous applause for Al Jolson.
In 1973, worn out from seven decades of use an misuse, the Folly was sentenced to meet the wrecking ball. Bulldozers were ready to raze the building to make way for a parking lot.
As the death of the Folly neared, alarmed citizens, led by Joan Ken Dillon and William Deramus III of the Performing Arts Foundation, rallied to her rescue. The building was purchased and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A million-dollar grant was secured, and a piece of history was saved.
Re-opened in 1981, the Folly is again a world-class theater. Her exterior is a marvel, her interior comfortable and elegant. Her acoustics have been compared to Carnegie Hall.
Today, the Folly is filled with the sounds of children’s giggles, thunderous applause for world-class performers, and the clink of toasting glasses. We invite you to share in the history and magic of the Folly Theater.