After being closed seven weeks for renovation and remodeling, Urbana’s historic downtown theatre, the Gloria, reopens Friday with the new blockbuster hit, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” followed next week by the highly anticipated “Sing 2.”
In 2014 the local nonprofit Grandworks Foundation began the “Gloria Theatre Project” with a three-stage plan to preserve the building and transform it into a state-of-the-art movie cinema and a modern, professional performing art center.
Stage 1 transformed the closed Urbana Twin Cinemas into one big screen with digital projection and surround sound. In 2015, after other upgrades and repairs, GrandWorks re-instituted the name “Gloria,” given by former owner, Warren Grimes, and reopened the theatre.
According to GrandWorks CEO, Staci Weller, Stage 2 is now nearly complete. Weller said, “When you come see Ghostbusters or Sing 2, you’ll notice new handicap accessible restrooms, our remodeled lobby and concessions, and our new vestibule. We’ve also made a lot of progress on a new commercial kitchen and the Clifford Railcar Café. In the near future, our patrons can enjoy this warm and cozy café right next to Gloria’s inviting new lobby.”
The biggest and final phase of the Gloria Theatre Project is already under way. Gloria volunteers Diane Nickell and Lynn Adell Mirtes offered their outlook on Stage 3.
“This is a very ambitious undertaking,” said Nickell.
“But the unbelievable generosity of our supporters proves that we can do it.” Mirtes added, “some people forget that we’re a nonprofit and we depend on the community’s support to save this treasure that Billy Clifford built in 1904. When we’re done, the Gloria will be the finest movie cinema and performing arts center in the entire region. I can’t wait to watch A-list concerts and Broadway tours right here at the Gloria. It will benefit our community immeasurably.”
Stage 3 will expand the building to include dressing rooms, more restrooms, additional seating including a balcony and other spaces for storage, offices, and private parties. Patrons will notice that construction has already begun to expand the stage and, according to Weller, the “Stars of Stage 3” fundraising campaign is off to a great start having raised more than $35,000 in just the first two weeks.
“This final stage is by far the most expensive, but we’ve been so blessed for years by everyone’s support, I know we’ll finish this and give the community a real gem that will benefit everyone for decades,” said Weller.
For more information on how to donate and become a “Star of Stage 3” go to the theatre’s website, gloriatheatre.org or visit the facebook page at www.facebook.com/gloriatheatreurbana or call the theatre at 937-653-4853.