Arts & Culture

Walk-ins welcome at Kechi Playhouse

Courtesy photo Paul Snyder, left, plays the samurai, and Jason LaCoss plays the bandit in Kechi Playhouse’s “Rashomon,” showing through June 26.
Courtesy photo Paul Snyder, left, plays the samurai, and Jason LaCoss plays the bandit in Kechi Playhouse’s “Rashomon,” showing through June 26. Courtesy photo

It's not unusual to run to a movie on the spur of the moment, but there's another option you may not have thought of: live theater, at the Kechi Playhouse.

The playhouse, in a little 1920 church building, runs plays Thursdays through Sundays in the summer and fall. There's a new play every month, and June's is the 150th show the theater has done.

"We used to recommend reservations, not to reserve seats" — it's hard to reserve a seat when you're sitting on pews —"but to reserve a space. But with the economy and all, people just walk in," said playhouse owner Misty Maynard. "If they're running around, they just come. We usually do a light comedy, but sometimes we do something a little different."

The Kechi Playhouse is in its 29th year of putting local actors on the stage and as many as 100 people in the pews per show. Maynard directs the plays, and each cast gets a month of practice before putting on 16 performances. There are five plays a season.

"It's kind of a romantic little theater because there's no arm between your seats," Maynard said. "And if you need to, you can scoot a few inches to see."

Admission is $10 for Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon performances and $11 on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The playhouse gives local actors an opportunity to showcase their talents, and they really grow over a month's run, getting to know the play and therefore becoming more in tune with the audience, Maynard said.

The actors receive a bit of pay, which originally was seen as gas money to get all the way to Kechi — back in the 1980s, 61st and North Oliver was considered to be in the middle of nowhere.

"I love seeing people I know onstage," Maynard said. Sometimes there's a shortage of actors, which means somebody in the community gets an opportunity he may not have otherwise.

For the current run of "Rashomon," a "tale of mystery set in old Japan," Maynard found a member of a re-enactment group to play the part of a sword fighter.

"He's wonderful," Maynard said. And she's able to watch the sword fighting comfortably from the wings.

"My sister went to a martial-arts store in Kansas City and found some wooden samurai swords," Maynard said. "They sound great, they look great. I didn't want to lose any fingers."

It was a dream of Maynard's to open a theater. She had grown up going to a barn theater near Topeka.

"It's been a lot of fun for me, and I've even written some shows we've staged," she said. "It's been nice to have the venue."

And people can call and make a reservation.

"We write their name down, and when they get here, they pick their own seat," she said.

If you go: Kechi Playhouse

What: A new play every month for five months, June through October Where: 100 E. Kechi Road (61st North and Oliver) When: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays How much: $10 Thursday and Sunday, $11 Friday and Saturday. Reservations are taken but not required.For more information, call 316-744-2152 or go to the website kechiplayhouse.blogspot.comM.

At the Playhouse this season

* "Rashomon," a mystery in old Japan: through June 26 * "The Psychic," a new comedy about a fake fortune teller: June 30 through July 31* " A Little Murder Never Hurt Any Body," a comedy about a man who plots to kill his wife: Aug. 4 through Aug. 28 * "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," a collection of comedic vignettes: Sept. 1 through Sept. 25 * "The Woman in Black," a ghost story for Halloween: Sept. 29 through Oct. 30