Meet the Past: Nell Donnelly Reed
Production for the Meet the Past television series continues in July with two programs taped before a live audience at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The series will air during prime-time on KCPT (channel 19) during the 2009-10 season.
Meet the Past features Library Director Crosby Kemper III interviewing prominent historical figures (as portrayed by veteran Chautauqua performers) with Kansas City-area connections.
Major funding for Meet the Past has been provided by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission to all Meet the Past programs is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes each event. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.
On Tuesday, July 28, at 6:30 p.m., Jan Chapman portrays Nell Donnelly Reed, a pioneer in the field of women’s ready-to-wear clothing in the 1920s and 1930s who was largely responsible for making Kansas City one of the largest ready-to-wear clothing manufacturing centers in the world.
Donnelly Reed began making and selling ruffled dresses in 1916. Her goal was to create affordable ready-to-wear clothing options to replace the drab cotton house dresses that were common at the time. By the 1940s her company was recognized as the largest of its kind in the world.
She was also a pioneer in business. Her company was one of the first in Kansas City to offer group hospitalization plans and continuing education for employees and scholarships for their children at local colleges.
Chapman is a theatre and creative writing graduate of the University of Kansas, and trained professionally at Circle In the Square in New York City. She is a founding member of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and performed in MET’s inaugural production of Line, and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Beatrice in A View From the Bridge, and most recently as Frankie in Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. She has also performed for MET in The Glass Menagerie, Bus Stop, and Our Town in the well-received “Script-In-Hand Series” with the Kansas City Public Library.