Missoula music lovers often visit four popular local performance venues. The Missoula, Montana music scene is thriving! The Wilma has anchored the Missoula cultural and entertainment aspect for almost 100 years. Constructed in 1921 as a vaudeville house, The Wilma has been utilized as a movie house for the majority of its history. In the 1980s, The Wilma began to once again host live entertainment.
Where possible, Checota left some of the key elements original to the Wilma, including the massive Art Deco chandeliers hanging above the balcony. An artist also touched up the ornate French murals lining the walls, and many of the trimmings have been repainted in a gold-gray color palette that’s characteristic of early 20th century theaters, Checota says.
The new owner is particularly proud of the improvements that most visitors to the Wilma might not be able to see but will certainly hear, including a new sound system and acoustic enhancements. Sound-absorption panels are hidden in the walls to help reduce echoes, which were a relic of the pre-amplified days when theaters were designed to throw actors’ voices as far as possible.
“It’s going to be cool, it’s going to attract bands,” Checota says in an interview with Kattie Whittle from Missoula Independent. “There’s a buzz already. I hear from agents, people are talking about what we’re doing.”
The Wilma hosts a free sneak peak event with music from Lil’ Smokies and The Whizpops! on Friday, Oct. 2, followed by its sold-out grand reopening with My Morning Jacket on Oct. 5.