The League Pulse

The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.

League 101: The Follies

Follies

The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri was founded in 1914 and members immediately began playing an active role in supporting our community by volunteering both time and fundraising efforts to support our city.

In the early years, a major source of revenue was the Junior League Follies, a Broadway-like production featuring the various talents of League members. The Campus Mouser was the League’s first production in 1915, and it netted $2,500 for the Swope Settlement, which was utilized as a school, community center, nursery and general hub for social gatherings.

In the 1920s, capacity audiences filled the theaters of Kansas City for these annual performances. Old newspaper clippings are filled with praise for the paid directors from New York and the local cast of Junior League members.

In an interview League member Martha Belle Aikins Smith gave before she passed away, Martha Belle said, “The rehearsals were strenuous, but, oh boy, it was fun! We had the likes of Paul Whiteman from New York and prominent people in the art and business world would be in the chorus: Billy Kemper, Earle Altaire, H.E. Hockaday. The shows would be at the Missouri Theatre and at the old Shubert Theatre. They were knockouts.”

Each performance was followed by a cabaret party, providing ample opportunity for the young women, as well as Kansas City society, to participate in dancing and drinking despite Prohibition.

Money raised in the 1920s funded a project known as the Convalescent Home for Sick and Crippled Children, which has developed into today’s Cardiac Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

From there, the Follies ran on and off throughout the years until the last production in 1978, Mercy Beaucoup. This final production showcased a cast of 150 League members, husbands and children who performed at the Music Hall. Mercy Beaucoup netted $38,500 for Children’s Mercy Hospital. In total, the Follies raised nearly $150,000.

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2016 by in Community Impact.
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