Paradox Theatre to Open This Weekend

By Gaug, Andrew | St. Joseph News-Press, January 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

Paradox Theatre to Open This Weekend


Gaug, Andrew, St. Joseph News-Press


When you step into the Paradox Theatre, you immediately notice the smell from the wood of the stage and floor, as well as the pleasant scents of finish and paint. In short, it smells like progress.

It's a scent that the core group of people behind the new arts, music and media venue have been longing to take in for several years.

On Feb. 1, the collective dreams of three to open the doors of the Downtown venue to an eager public will finally come true at 7 p.m. with its grand opening celebration.

Rewinding back to 2011, it's amazing to imagine Paradox would become the pristine arthouse after its building was left in disarray.

The scent that first welcomed the Paradox managers and building owner Rick Gilmore was definitely not progress - it was more waste and garbage left from the previous tenant, the hard rock/metal bar Room 107.

Originally a dance club and live music venue, Room 107 transformed into a haven for rock and metal heads. After unexpectedly closing in 2011, it lay dormant and after the windows were boarded up, looked like some of the other relics-turned- eyesores in Downtown St. Joseph.

"That darn building, every time I drove by I just clenched my teeth and said 'That represents St. Joseph, Missouri,'" Gilmore said in a previous interview with the News-Press. "You come into Downtown on Edmond Street and you see this building, then you see where they did a good job making it look nice on the corner where Ground Round is. I hope this can finish off the block."

One of the rooms on the upper level of the building that sat for months littered with trash is now the office of Beau Walker, pastor of Make12 Church, who will use the building as their new church, as well as serving as unofficial manager of the Paradox Theatre.

Joining him in his office are two of the other higher-ups for Paradox - Brett Ryan, the booking manager and publicist, and Drew Williams, online marketing manager.

They all say they joined the project because they believed St. Joseph needed a building like this, though they had no idea it would be this big of an undertaking.

"Since we opened the doors, nothing about this has been easy. Nothing from tearing out trash to figuring out where we were going to get the finances to do certain things," Walker says.

Originally when the building was purchased in 2011, Walker announced it would be open within six months. He admits it was a bit naive and overzealous.

As the work piled on, the main crew, as well as many volunteers from Make12 Church and beyond, weren't sure if it would open at all. There were talks it would become another failed project to add to the ever-expanding list of doomed St. Joseph projects.

"Last year (at) Better Block, we thought that we were going to have people in here ... We didn't even have power," Williams says. "We thought we were going to do something in the middle of summer, we thought we were going to do something in the fall and then open Thanksgiving."

Williams adds: "Every 10 meters you get knocked back 40 meters."

There were times when the future of the project was so bleak, people would shake their heads at Walker and tell him it was doomed.

"There's been times, more than once, where we've said 'I don't know if it's going to happen. I think we're getting shut down,'" he says.

All three men behind Paradox have full-time jobs and families on top of the work they do for the theater, meaning they don't have as much time and money as they would like to devote to the project. When they reached out to the public for financial help in March 2013 with an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, it fell way short of its goal. …

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