The Bell Road Barn Players is Kansas City’s oldest community theatre and will present its 64st season in 2018. The group’s remarkably long existence – especially in the changeable environment of volunteer performing arts organizations – is a testament to its history and its dedicated leadership. Through the years it has evolved from a family pastime to a not-for-profit community-based operation.
Jenkin and Barbara David, founders of the original Bell Road Barn Playhouse, moved their family to Parkville in 1952 when Mr. David accepted a position at Park College. When they purchased property on Bell Road that included a house and small barn, the Davids converted the barn into a “playhouse” as a summer activity for their four young daughters.
“You Can’t Take It with You” was the first production, and early plays were cast with family members, neighbors and friends.
When Mr. David became professor of theatre at Park College, the “Bell Road Barn Playhouse” provided students with summer experience and academic credit. Audiences and community involvement grew, and by 1977, the Bell Road Barn Players registered as a Missouri 501(c)(3) corporation, elected a board of directors, and received tax-exempt status.
Over the years, the Bell Road Barn Players have been served by hundreds of talented actors, directors and technicians, and from the financial support of devoted season pass holders and corporate patrons. The theatre’s preceding seasons have offered a balance of old favorites and new works.
From its origins on Bell Road to its residency in the David Theatre in Alumni Hall on the campus of Park University, the Bell Road Barn Players remain dedicated to the organization’s mission of fostering the development of community appreciation and participation in the theatrical arts in Platte County, Missouri.