KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From viral sensation to all-around entertainer, Kalen Allen is taking the entertainment industry by storm, but not without stopping to give back to his hometown.
This Friday, the Kansas City, Kansas, native will perform his holiday album, For Christmas Sake!, at B&B Live Theatre in Shawnee. It's the first time he'll give a live performance with songs from the album.
"I'm going to give you a little bit of everything," Allen said. "It's going to be a lot different than probably any other show that I've ever done because this is home."
Allen, a Sumner Academy graduate, rose to fame after his viral food reaction videos caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and landed him a role as featured contributor on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," but he dreamed of being an actor long before the two crossed paths.
"Growing up in Kansas City, all I did was musicals and theater. I did it with KC Music Theater and Starlight Theater," Allen said. "I always sang around the city."
While opportunities came, the resources weren't always available. That's why Allen had one stipulation for his one-night holiday extravaganza. The profits must go to a scholarship fund for underprivileged and underrepresented youth in Kansas City.
"I'm from Wyandotte County and we didn't have a lot of finances for me to be able to do everything that I wanted. I was always on scholarship," Allen said. "If these kids had the resources and someone said, 'Here, take this and make your dreams come true,' like I was given, I can only imagine who they could become."
The scholarship fund will operate through Music Theatre Kansas City, a program he once attended.
While he's providing finances, Allen is also giving hope and sending a message about inclusivity. In addition to his Christmas album, Allen released a movie musical of the same name in December 2020. He said he was intentional about including cast members from the LGBTQ community.
"I felt like we were often left out of the holidays, you know? And so I was very specific," Allen said. "I think it all boils down to the gatekeeping of religion and of holidays, in general, and realizing that the holidays are about a feeling. They're about a feeling of joy and happiness and togetherness."
Tickets for Kalen Allen: One Holiday Night are $10-$30 for children, $15 for students, and $35-$55 for adults.
The meet & greet starts at 5:30 p.m. with Allen's performance beginning at 7 p.m.
Masks are required and VIP patrons must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the show.