Years ago, I saw “The Last Picture Show” for a college English class.
I can’t quote any of the film’s dialog. But I can still feel the sense of desolation that pulled the main characters adrift in their dying Texas town. Even their few escapes, like the pool hall and movie theater, were shutting down.
Urbana has a lot more going for it than the movie’s setting. Yet, we did see our own last picture show. That was when the Urbana Twin Cinemas closed about three and a half years ago.
I remember the downhearted dialog that followed, around town and on Facebook.
The Marquee Shines Again
But a story line far different than the one directed by Peter Bogdanovich began to unfold.
Here, a closed theater has come to symbolize something entirely different. Faith. Hope. Community spirit and self-determination. Direction.
Now the marquee changes weekly announcing movies (including new releases), concerts, Christian revivals and youth retreats, stage productions and more. (A sampling of upcoming events is at the end of this post.)
Theater Saved for the Community
The Urbana United Methodist Church bought the theater in 2014 to save it for the community. And to use the theater for the glory of God, resurrecting the movie house’s former name, the Gloria.
The nonprofit, community-based GrandWorks Foundation manages the Gloria Theatre and a campaign to complete the theater’s restoration as a community center to reach, restore and revive Champaign County culturally, socially, economically and spiritually.
Visit the Gloria Theatre website to learn about the foundation’s mission, vision and plans – and how you can support the theater to ensure a future of quality entertainment and cultural, social and spiritual events for Champaign County.
How to Support the Gloria Theatre
- Donate to the Foundation
- Sponsor an event as a business, organization or individual
- Volunteer at the theater, to sell tickets and concessions, clean up after events, and assist with ongoing renovations
- Like the Gloria Theatre Facebook page to get the latest theater news and events in your feed
- Share Gloria Theatre Facebook posts about upcoming events to spread the word
- Attend events and invite your friends
A Sample of Coming Attractions at the Gloria
(Admission only $5! All proceeds support ongoing renovation. Shown with the Gloria’s new state-of-the-art 4K digital projection system, Dolby® Surround 7.1 sound system and new 38-by-16-foot screen. Show times on the Gloria Theatre website.)
- The American President: Feb. 17, 18, 19 & 20 (Presidents Day)
- Magnificent Seven: March 3, 4 & 5
- Trolls: March 10, 11 & 12
- Rogue One: March 17, 18 & 19
- Secret Life of Pets: March 24, 25 & 26
- La La Land: March 31, April 1 & 2
Second annual Ignite youth conference, Feb. 24-26, where teens from the region will join together to “ignite” their faith in Christ. For details, visit the Ignite page on Facebook.
The musical “Godspell” will be presented at the Gloria April 7, 8 & 9 by the Perennial Theatre Company of Urbana, Check the Perennial Theatre Facebook page for more.
And I hope you didn’t miss the January 14 McCartney Project concert. It was a fun trip back to the music of the Beatles and Wings – and a sign of great entertainment to come. Here’s a clip:
And That’s Not All, Folks…