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Late Night Goes Dark

That venerable house of drag in the Crossroads has closed its doors.

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For weeks, rumors have swirled about the future of Late Night Theatre, Kansas City’s decade-old home for plays and parodies such as Valley of the Dolls and Rockula: The Hair Band Vampire Musical. The stars could be found nowhere else: hard-abbed guys done up in vintage ladies underthings.

Now, with the “For Lease” sign suddenly up in the tiny storefront at 1531 Grand, the party’s over. Mounting debts and skyrocketing rent spelled the death of a theater that seemed well on its way to being a Kansas City institution.

Ron Megee, Late Night’s founder and frequent writer, director and star, confirmed the closing. Asked for comment, he offered only: "Goodbye."

Late Night premiered at the Westport Coffee House in 1997 with a parody of The Birds. It soon set up in the Old Chelsea in the River Market. When that venerable space was slated for demolition, the show moved to the Grand location, opening Stepford Wives there with an all-male cast. Since then, Late Night has lovingly burlesqued films such as Dangerous Liaisons, Purple Rain and The Bad Seed. Megee’s group also took on entire genres, as in Mother Trucker, which riffed on ´70s car-chase flicks, and the slasher-movie takedown The Killings at Kamp Tittekaka. The last year featured revivals of earlier hits, including The Birds, 9 to 5 and Valley of the Dolls. (Patty Duke herself enjoyed an earlier Dolls and hit it off with Gary Campbell, who played her.) The company’s final show, A Scarrie Carrie Christmas brought together Stephen King and A Christmas Carol in one bloody puree.

David Wayne Reed has been with Late Night since The Birds. He says, “Late Night Theatre was the most exciting chapter of my life so far, and I'm so glad to have the memory. It's bittersweet, but I have no regrets.”

Then, because he’s David Wayne Reed, he adds: “It's actually kind of ironic for a bunch of bottoms to go out on top.”

Late Night's 10th season closed with a tribute to Stephen King's Carrie:

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