With the caliber of entertainment the Gillioz Theatre has been bringing to town recently, one might have forgotten that the theater was in dire straights just a year and a half ago.
Facing $3.5 million in debt, the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust chose to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the theater and the adjacent Netters Building in January 2011, staving off potential foreclosure. The trust reached an agreement with note holder Guaranty Bank in June 2011, allowing the trust’s loan payment schedule to be restructured to a month-to-month 25-year payout.
It was a close shave, but the theater, and its fans, seem to have come out the better if the entertainment taking the stage is any indication.
The theater’s current show roster includes Missouri native rapper Tech N9ne; the multidecade, celebrated rock band Primus; chart-topping Canadian rock band Theory of a Deadman; and well-known comedians Carlos Mencia and Gabriel Iglesias.
I was recently excited to learn that one of my favorite bands, Death Cab for Cutie, is making its Springfield debut at the Gillioz in July. Springfield doesn’t often play host to prominent alternative rock bands, so suffice it to say, my ticket is tucked safely away in my dresser.
Local self-described “neo-hillbillies” Big Smith played farewell shows last weekend at the Gillioz, ending more than a decade of performances in style. In February, rock legend Peter Frampton played a set. I’m told by my parents it was excellent.
It isn’t the first comeback for the Gillioz, which reopened in 2006 after 26 years of silence. The 1926-built theater is a cultural centerpiece in downtown Springfield, and it would be a shame to take it off the table.
The Gillioz is far from the only worthwhile venue in Springfield, but its brush with disaster is notable – and seems to have been a driving force in its current and future business. As they say, the show must go on.