‘Gloria – The Musical’ returning to Gloria Theatre

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]

An encore production of “Gloria – The Musical” is returning to the Gloria Theatre in Urbana following the success of its January 2015 debut.

Urbana resident Jon Umstead, who wrote and composed the musical, said the two performances last year sold out and raised $7,000 for the revitalization of the historic theater located at 216 S. Main St.

After receiving positive feedback from the audience, Umstead said he sent the script and musical score to a New York-based company for a professional critique, which came back “very favorable” and provided him with some ideas for improving the script.

“The two major criticisms were that it dragged unnecessarily long in places and that because it is written for a specific theater, it would be hard to market for production elsewhere,” he said.

With these critiques in mind, Umstead went to work on a reproduction of the musical after the board of directors at the GrandWorks Foundation – a nonprofit organization in charge of redeveloping the Gloria Theatre – decided to make “Gloria – The Musical” one of the theater’s signature shows to be repeated every few years.

“This production is going for a much larger comedic bang with heavier emphasis on the music itself,” Umstead said.

Advertised as a family friendly, romantic comedy, the musical’s synopsis is as follows: Gloria is the new girl in town after moving here with her father, who is building a vaudeville theater. Eventually, a man by the name of Champaign Sam meets and falls instantly in love with Gloria, much to the chagrin of Penelope Passingtime. Fearing her town will turn into another New York City, Penelope schemes to destroy Gloria and any notion of a theater.

Show details, next step in revitalization efforts

When the encore production of “Gloria – The Musical” hits the stage in the grand auditorium at the Gloria Theatre for four shows in July, it will do so with new directors from a year ago as well as new cast members, besides a few actors who have switched roles for the reproduction.

“Most of the lead roles are being played by different actors for this production,” said Umstead, who has taken on the role of music director this time around.

The position of theater director will be split by Abigail Umstead and Rachel Chamberlin.

Showtimes for the upcoming performances of “Gloria – The Musical” are 7:30 p.m. on July 1, 2 and 9, and at 2:30 p.m. on July 10.

Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased online at www.grandworksfoundation.org/home/tickets/. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door prior to each show.

Umstead, who also serves on the GrandWorks Foundation Board of Directors, said proceeds from the musical will again go toward the foundation’s goal of revitalizing the Gloria Theatre.

With the most recent project – installation of a digital projector – scheduled to be completed this summer, Umstead said, the board has turned its attention to another part of the theater.

“Our next large, named project will be to remodel the front lobby, which includes expansion of the bathrooms and concession stand along with several other improvements,” he said. “We are estimating the cost to be in the neighborhood of $150,000.”

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.