Karla Burns, Broadway and Wichita star, passes away; local artists pay tribute


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Karla Burns, a Wichita native and a Broadway star, passed away Friday morning according to friends close to the artist.

Burns was recovering from life-altering spinal surgery. She was 66 years old.

Burns was nominated for a Tony for “Show Boat” and won the Olivier award for the same show in London. She was the musical director at Mosley Street Melodrama and Roxy’s. She also donated her time working with Laughing Feet Productions.

“She was a bright light and such an inspiration to many,” said Patty Reeder, Burn’s longtime friend who worked with her during their time at Mosley Street Melodrama. “Her passing has left a hole in my heart!”

Wichita’s popular performing artist Injoy Fountain fondly remembered Karla Burns Friday. 

“Right after high school, I pursued musical theater because of Karla. You know she opened doors for all of us and made it possible for people like me to be doing what we’re doing.”

Calling Burns a “powerhouse,” Fountain continued.

“She commands the stage, she commands your attention, and you’re just kind of just star struck by her, anywhere, at any time just to be able to call her friend and learn from her really has changed my life. Honestly, I wouldn’t be any where I am today if it wasn’t for her. I’m so serious, so thankful to her.”

To watch the full interview with Injoy Fountain, click the video below.

KSN News interviewed Burns as she played Hattie McDaniel in the musical “Hi-Hat Hattie” and took those in the audience back to the early 1900’s. McDaniel acted in major motion pictures like, “Gone with the Wind” where she played Mammy, a role that earned her an Oscar making her the first African American to win an Academy Award.

Burns was a graduate of Wichita State University.

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