The Folly Theater has renamed its performance hall to pay tribute to the late C. Stephen Metzler, the local businessman and philanthropist who helped revive the theater in the 1970s.
The change to the C. Stephen Metzler Hall at the Folly Theater marks another major milestone for the oldest theater in Kansas City: Supporters have raised more than $1 million for an endowment fund to support the institution.
Fundraisers hit that mark in July. It’s part of a larger effort, launched in 2015, to raise $5 million for the Folly’s long-term health, though it was always planned to rename the performance hall once the Folly Forever Fund contained at least $1 million.
Signs in the lobby and on the building’s exterior mark the new name.
Metzler, a Folly board member for more than 35 years, teamed with other Folly supporters in the late 1970s to raise money for a major renovation of the theater. Over the years, Metzler went on to support and lead a series of other fundraisers for the Folly.
Metzler passed away in March 2015. He’s survived by his partner, Brian Williams, the Folly’s director of development.
Metzler was a winner of the 25 Under 25® Award through Metzler Brothers Insurance, his family’s business. He was also an active supporter of several community groups, including the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, another organization that he co-founded.
The Kansas City Friends formed after Ailey brought his company to Kansas City for a performance and fell in love with the community and its jazz scene. The Kansas City Friends are the only official “second home” for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The Folly debuted in 1900 and attracted stars like Gypsy Rose Lee, the Marx Brothers, Tempest Storm, Humphrey Bogart and Shirley Booth.