Not time to bring down curtain on Marietta theater
by Pete Borden
Guest Columnist
April 02, 2013 12:28 AM | 3810 views | 2 2 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MDJ readers are aware that Marietta’s downtown theaters have been in the news a great deal in the past several months. Everything from the closing of Theatre in the Square to the split-up of the Atlanta Lyric and the Earl Smith Strand has caused consternation among area theatergoers, as well as concern among downtown businessmen.

The situation has prompted a local official to advance the idea of a city-owned theater in Marietta. Indeed, Downtown Marietta Development Authority Chairman Tom Browning promoted such an idea in a letter published in the MDJ on Sunday. It is an idea with some merit, but also with myriad complications, not the least of which is the question, “Does the city really want to compete with the Strand, or the new Theater in the Square, or other community theaters, all of which, except the Strand, operate at no expense to taxpayers?”

However, my intent is not the rehash the breakup of the Strand and Lyric or to discus Browning’s suggestion. Rather, it is to call your attention to endeavors not generally well known.

Those folks still bemoaning the closing of Theatre in the Square need to open their eyes and discover the magic that it happening at that venue.

In the space known as the Alley Stage, two theater companies, Next Stage Theatre and Out of Box Theatre, are extremely busy staging professional-quality shows.

Out of Box just completed a run of a dynamite production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Their next production, “Bedroom Farce,” opens July 19. Carolyn Choe, artistic director of the group, is familiar to community theater performers and patrons as well for introducing new and astounding interpretations to drama, whether it be well-known pieces or previously unperformed work.

Next Stage is currently in rehearsal for “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” set to open Friday. The show is, of course, based on the famous comic strip “Peanuts.” Judging from the cast, some from a highly successful production of the show at another venue, and the quality direction of Zip Rampy, I can promise this will be a show worth walking barefoot in the snow to see. Founder Rob Hardie has introduced a great lineup for the rest of the season, including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” set to open May 3, and “West Side Story,” slated for a July 12 opening.

Since moving into Theatre in the Square, Young Actors Playhouse founder, Don Goodner, has worked wonders. In the short space of one month, he has presented three youth-oriented productions, all of which were well produced and well received by the audiences. “Beauty and the Beast,” “Back to the Beanstalk” and the latest production, a musical, “13,” about the trials of adolescence and growing up, had the audiences enchanted by the quality of the productions.

Now he is rehearsing the cast for “Hansel and Gretel,’ and April 14 will see auditions for “Seussical, the Musical,” based on Dr. Seuss.

Goodner does not, however, rely totally on children’s theater. Currently, local director and actress Barbara Rudy is directing a cast for a production of Harper Lee’s great story, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This show, which opens April 19, is a raw, gripping and realistic portrayal of life in the rural South of the mid 1930s.

Atticus Finch, the lawyer destined to defend a young black man accused of raping the daughter of the town’s white-trash lowlife, is portrayed by Bradley Rudy, the husband of the director. Rudy is a well known and highly accomplished director and actor in his own right.

The couple’s daughter, Julia, portrays Scout Finch (whose grown-up persona narrates the story), with a realism that defies her young age. Having made her stage debut shortly after her 9th birthday, she has amassed an enviable list of credits in the three years since.

Goodner is entertaining several ideas for later productions at the revitalized “Theatre in the Square” including some tried and true standards, as well as original works by local playwrights. He has an uncanny knack for picking hit shows and the necessary connections to get the right people for them. Look for exciting and vibrant productions at 11 Whitlock Ave.

If you were a fan of the old Theatre, then you owe it to yourself to see what Goodner, Choe and Hardie are doing. I promise you will be very pleased that you did.

Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Nettie Helen Stemm
April 02, 2013
What is it you disagree with him about in this piece?

Are you not aware that he is an actor and director involved in community theater, and as such, probably has a better handle on the subject than the average person?

Or do you have a personal vendetta against him.
April 02, 2013
I'm not sure why you keep giving this guy a voice. I would listen to him on masonry issues, but nothing else. Surely there is another "local" contributor who is involved and informed on local issues?
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