For most of his career, Ron Megee has performed past the bedtimes of most Midwestern folks. Like a thief in the night, he purloins the plot-lines of television sitcoms and B-movies, runs them through his chop-shop brain with the help of a veritable art army of co-conspirators, re-packages them with genders re-assigned and original intent seriously re-aligned, then re-sells them to audiences capable of staying awake past midnight and unafraid of venturing to alien venues, in exchanges more resembling drug deals than traditional show business.
Since the early 1990s, Megee has produced a prodigious number of unconventional performances in a host of unconventional spaces throughout Kansas City. Megee and his nomadic band of collaborators have largely operated under the name “Late Night Theatre,” with performances at Quality Hill Playhouse, the Westport Coffee House, the Hobbs building in the West Bottoms, the Old Chelsea, and a former downtown bank building.
While Megee’s performances are fully rooted in a Camp tradition that dates back to the 19th century, the pop culture of the latter half of the 20th century is the junkyard he returns to, scavenging for the stories, characters, images, icons, taboos, and totems that make up our collective (and mass media-shaped) experience. The titles, like the pop culture he exploits, are familiar—Valley of the Dolls, The Birds, Bonanza, Disaster 2004 (a pastiche of 70’s disaster movies)—or are often perversely hot-glued to equally familiar names such as A Scarrie Carrie Christmas Carol and Dangerous Dirty Little Liaisons.
Drag performances or parody of pop culture are nothing new. Megee’s talents as a performer and his keen sense of the theatrical take drag and parody from the merely ridiculous to the uproariously sublime. He not only subverts the narratives of these media creations, he mocks their multi-million dollar budgets and high-tech special effects by transforming the cinematic into the theatrical with everyday objects on a shoestring budget, delighting audiences as he exposes the artifice and manipulation.
Ron Megee has not only created a body of work that is both outrageous and wildly popular. He has been in the vanguard of Kansas City theatre and served as a provocative pied piper, drawing artists and audiences to his performances— no matter the location or time of day.
What makes Kansas City a great place for creativity and innovation?
Well, the community. We are a cross-pollinating group of artists that are willing to step out of our realm and help. KC is still, at heart, a small town. A diverse community of believers that want to help their neighbors.
When and where are you happiest?
Besides being on stage? I would say the happiest moments for me, are when I am gardening at my 1884 Victorian in the Historic Northeast with my husband, dogs and chickens.
What is your favorite place in Kansas City?
The rural areas that skirt our city.
Where's your favorite place outside of Kansas City?
What's your most treasured personal possession?
My house. I love my house. I am a home owner!!! It is a 130-year-old Victorian Gothic style home. It was broken up into six apartments when we moved in, and we have slowly brought it back to a single-family home.
Who's your favorite fictional hero?
Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Who do you most admire in real-life?
The Simple dreamers. Anyone that follows dreams.