© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A new movie musical brings the story of a Kansas City woman's clothing empire to the big screen

A woman in 1930s clothing sits at a desk, with a pen in her hand and reads from a sheet of paper.
Nelly Don Theatrical, LLC
"Nelly Don — The Musical Movie" will open September 29 at theaters throughout the Kansas City area.

"Nelly Don — The Musical Movie" was written, produced and directed by Terence O'Malley, a local lawyer and the great-great nephew of the real Nell Donnelly Reed. The film opens at several area movie theaters Friday.

Terence O'Malley has been fascinated by the story of his great-great aunt since childhood. It's why he's produced a book, documentary, stage musical and now a movie musical about her.

O'Malley's great-great aunt was Nell Donnelly Reed, a Kansas City clothing designer known for her ready-to-wear line "Nelly Don." But her success as a businesswoman in the early 20th century was underscored by more dramatic details: gangsters, a child born out of wedlock and a kidnapping.

"It's a crazy story," O'Malley said.

"Nelly Don — the Musical Movie" is a screen adaptation of the stage musical O'Malley produced in 2019. It was filmed in Kansas City and features many local actors, including Julie Pope, who stars as Nell Donnelly Reed. She says the story will resonate with audiences despite taking place in the past.

"One of the things that I think is so relevant today and so modern is the hoops that she had to have jumped through," Pope said. "To be the person who was in charge, running the show in the 1920s, 1930s... It's incredible."

The film will screen at the Union Station Extreme Screen, Screenland Armour, and Glenwood Arts Theatre beginning this Friday.

  • Julie Pope, actress who plays Nell Donnelly Reed
  • Terence O'Malley, playwright and great-great nephew of Nell Donnelly Reed
Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As an Up To Date producer, I aim to create a space for Kansas Citians to come together for curious and inspired conversations about the region we call home. I want to help find answers to big questions, shine a light on local change makers and break down complex issues people need to know about. Email me at hallejackson@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.