“Nelly Don” and Nolte’s

I attended the premiere last night of “Nellie Don” the musical at Crown Center. It was fabulous!

Nelly Don Program
Program at Production

Why might one ask would I be interested in such a live performance on a cold (still cold!) March night?


Five reasons:

  1. As the father of three daughters, they were raised with “equality for women” way before #metoo. I love to see women not just succeed but “excel” (like my daughters all do!). Nell Donnelly was such woman.

She founded a multi-million-dollar dress design and manufacturing plant, right here in KC. Not NY. Not California, but here in KC. She employed hundreds of women. As a designer myself, I am wowed at how she combined all the steps and didn’t outsource it to “China!”


  1. I love biographies. Leave Sci-Fi on the shelf. If it didn’t really happen, I’m not interested. THIS however really happened. Because of her wealth, she was kidnapped by the mob and because of her adulterous relationship with a Senator, released unharmed. Beyond that..she lived to be 102 and just died in 1991.
  2. When her fabulous home (South of UMKC campus) was chosen as the Symphony League Designer Show house (an event we have attended for at least 25 years), Mrs. Nolte and I were invited to serve as Honorary Chairman for the VIP Preview Party.


By Invitation Magazine Cover
Cover of “by Invitation” social magazine (Mrs. Nolte wearing custom Stephen Yearick cocktail dress and jewelry by Tivol)
Nelly Don House
Stately Nelly Don house

That was such a fun night and lots of Nolte’s customers/friends came because we were there (which was the League’s hope). My own designer gowns were feathered through the rooms and I think Nell might have been proud.

  1. We attended the movie, “A Stitch in Time” a few years ago and are familiar with the story.
  2. The producer, Terrance O’Malley, a local attorney and great-great-nephew of Nell Donnelly Reed, is multi-faceted talented and I wanted to support him.

MJN and Producer at Opening Night

It’s only a two-week run. The tickets are only $35 and the music and choreography are wonderful. The exhibits of Nelly Don dresses were not just on mannequins, but also on women attending who bought them on-line to be “in the zone.” Champagne afterwards and lots of unexpected intersections with friends who also attended…surely made for a fun evening.


Kudos Terrance. You certainly made Kansas City proud. I can’t wait to see it go on national tour and know I was there for your Opening Night! MJN