By Kevin Collison
Things may be a bit rough around the edges, but when The Folly hosts Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman of Byrds fame this Sunday, guests will have their first look at the $2.5 million renovation that’s bringing the 1900 vaudeville palace into the 21st Century.
“Detail work needs to be completed, but we’ll be ready for action on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.,” said Gale Tallis, Folly executive director.
The show, which in addition to Hillman and McGuinn includes Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, is the first collaboration between The Folly and Knuckleheads, the popular East Bottoms live music venue.
It’ll also be a coming out party for the major overhaul that’s been underway at the 118 year-old theater at 12th and Central since early July. It’s the most ambitious improvement program since it was spared the wrecking ball in 1981.
The lobby has been completely redone with a new bar and ticket counter layout, new restrooms in the back and a comfortable staircase leading up to the Shareholders Room on the second floor. An elevator also has been added for better access by patrons.
The Shareholders Room has been opened to provide views of 12th Street and, as soon as the workers from McCownGordon Construction are finished, will have new furniture and lighting to create a lounge-style feel. The architect is Helix Architecture + Design.
Beautiful new chevron-style white tile already has been laid in the lobby and outside the auditorium. The project also includes a new heating, ventilation and cooling system for improved climate control inside the theater.
The work is about 90 percent finished and is expected to be completed by late October.
Tallis and Brian Williams, The Folly’s development director, were offering a preview of the improvements Thursday while the construction workers continued their tasks.
“The concert organizer knows what the situation is, but the Folly will be functional,” Tallis said over the sound of saws and hammers.
In fact, the theater is scheduled to one of the city’s Open Spaces art festival events next Thursday, Sept. 13. The Bang on a Can All-Stars and KC Chorale will perform at 7:30 p.m.
Two jazz concerts also are scheduled, Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights, Sept. 27, and Larry Carlton Quintet, Oct. 12.
On the financial side, The Folly is within $75,000 of reaching its $2.5 million fundraising goal. Major donations include $775,000 from the William T. Kemper Foundation; $250,000 from the Sunderland Foundation, and $100,000 form the Francis Family Foundation.
The grand reopening is scheduled to coincide with the annual Folly Frolic on Nov. 17. Headlining the entertainment will be Kansas City vocalist Oleta Adams, a four-time Grammy nominee.
The honorary chairs will be Ramin and Ashley Cherafat. He is he CEO of McCown Gordon.
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