We're glad you're here!
The Grand Island Little Theatre has been providing quality, live entertainment in Grand Island and the surrounding communities for over 50 years. Now, we're pleased to raise the curtain on our brand new website to reach an even larger audience.
you're looking for show times, show tickets or a unique volunteer opportunity,
this is the place. Can't find what
you're looking for? Give our Box
Office a call at 308-382-2586 and we'll be happy to help.
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The Grand Island Little Theatre, also known as GILT, was started in 1960
by a group of Grand Island residents who had a passion for theatre.
Until 2004, it had been a totally volunteer organization preparing and
performing 4 to 6 productions each year.
Over fifty years later, it is still a viable and vibrant part of the Grand Island community. GILT is still providing quality family entertainment to the community and surrounding areas at a affordable cost. For most of the first 50 years, GILT lacked a permanent place to call their home. Sets were built and painted in one or more locations and then moved to the site of the show. Costumes and props were accumulated and then lugged to the show site. The “box office” was operated wherever they could find a location. Then, after the last performance of the show, the set was dismantled and what could be saved was saved wherever they could find a willing owner – maybe someone’s garage, basement or storage shed. As soon as those things were in storage, they began the next production.
Always in the minds of the volunteers was, “Where will we hold our next performance? For many years, performances were held at the Old Walnut Junior High, then at the Liederkranz, and more recently at College Park. This was confusing and troublesome for the audiences and the volunteers.
In 1998, the GILT Board of Directors saw an opportunity to provide what they thought would be a permanent home for this acting group, and they purchased the former Piccadilly Dinner Theater in downtown GI. They began plans for renovating the building; they held one show in that location and they started a capital campaign. Soon, they discovered that the building had asbestos and that it was not structurally sound. Thus, it was determined they could not hold performances there any longer. So the casts, crews and all helping hands were back on the road.
The renovation plans needed a total overhaul, and when this happened, the capital campaign also hit a snag. But the faithful volunteers never lost sight of their goal to find a permanent home.
In June, 2004, there was an article in the Independent stating that the owners of the Grand Theater would entertain the idea of giving the theater to a non-profit organization. The Board of Directors knew that theatre was in better condition than the building presently owned by GILT so they began visiting with the owners and looking at the building on several different occasions. They visited with contractors, the city building inspector, fire marshal and contractors, trying to determine if they could save the integrity of that beautiful building and make it work for GILT. In the end, as you know, it was determined that the Grand Theatre could not be renovated into a performing arts stage without an astronomical price tag and demolition of a beautiful historic building. The GILT board did something that every non-profit board is very reluctant to do-- they said “no, thank you” to the gift because GILT would have had two buildings and neither of them really met their needs.
As time passed, costs of renovating the building downtown continued to grow as costs of materials grew. About the same time, the GILT board began talks with the College Park Board of Directors to determine if there was a possibility that GILT and College Park could work together to mutually benefit each organization.
Following hours of discussion, GILT and College Park entered into an agreement whereby GILT would raise the funds necessary to build an addition to the Hornady-Marshall Theater. Preliminary plans included building a green room, dressing rooms and restrooms as well as space for the storage of props and costumes, a scene shop to build and paint sets and a rehearsal area so we will have a place to audition and rehearse without occupying the stage, allowing other groups to use it. The box office and the administrative office would also be part of the addition.
The GILT Board of Directors determined that the downtown facility needed to be sold. Fortunately, it sold within a few months and GILT moved their belongings into yet another temporary facility on East Highway 30 until their permanent home was complete.
In March 2010, the dream came true. We moved into our permanent home at College Park on Highway 34. Upon successful completion of the Capital Campaign (and collection of all pledges), we will be tenants of our own home—something we have sorely missed over the past five decades. It also means that College Park has become a true performing arts theater.
For the GI community and surrounding areas, it means GILT has been a good steward of our supporters’ and patrons’ gifts—we have helped improve a theatre that was not fully utilized before, but now it is. GILT didn’t need to recreate a stage, the seating, sound and lights and all the amenities a theatre needs. Those things were already at College Park. Now, the Hornady-Marshall Theatre will be more fully utilized and the cost to GILT was far less than the cost of renovating the downtown building or starting from scratch.