Karen Errington, a Kansas City-based actress who was known for her powerful singing voice and charismatic stage presence, died just after midnight Tuesday after battling a recurrence of breast cancer for several months.
Errington, 49, was a native of Grand Rapids., Mich., and had lived in Kansas City since 1991. She had worked for most of the theater companies in town, including the Unicorn, the American Heartland, the New Theatre, Kansas City Actors Theatre and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Her last performance before becoming ill again was in the Musical Theatre Heritage concert production of "1776" last summer. She delivered a memorable performance as John Adams in an all-female version of the show.
Errington was a versatile actress who seemed equally at home on stage in wacky, irreverent shows like "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" or in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Wit."
She performed in many cabaret shows at Quality Hill Playhouse and was also a member of the Divas, a female quartet that performed at industrial shows and private engagements for EPIC Entertainment, a production company affiliated with Starlight Theatre.
On Friday, friends and colleagues performed a benefit called "Everbody's Girl" for a standing-room-only audience at the American Heartland Theatre.
The list of performers read like a who's who of musical-theater actors, many of whom had worked frequently with Errington through the years. The goal was to raise $10,000 but actor Tim Scott, one of the organizers, said the event took in almost $23,000 through ticket sales, a silent auction and cash sales at the open bar.
He said the bartenders even kicked in their tips. The money will help Errington's husband, actor David Fritts, and her son, Jack Fritts, defray medical expenses.
The event was recorded and Errington was able to watch it on DVD the next day. Scott said copies of the DVD will be also be available to the public. Inquiries should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actress Alison Sneegas-Borberg was one of several people who spent time with Errington in recent days. Sneegas-Borberg said Errington had a good day Sunday with a room full of friends and loved ones. Errington also asked Sneegas-Borberg to plan her memorial service, which is scheduled at 1 p.m. Friday at the Heartland Community Church, 12175 South Strang Line Road, Olathe.
Sneegas-Borberg said Errington had requested music by Pucinni and Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as the swing-era classic "Sentimental Journey."
And she had one very special request.
"She said, 'I want a kick-ass band,'" Sneegas-Borberg said. And so Red Guitar, a rock group, will perform Flogging Molly's "If I Ever Leave This World Alive."