Downtown Marietta theater gets new life
by Geoff Folsom
gfolsom@mdjonline.com
October 05, 2012 12:50 AM | 5425 views | 3 3 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — A vacant downtown theater is about to get another chance.

The first production at the new Marietta Theatre is scheduled to open Nov. 1. The theater will open in the building at 11 Whitlock Ave., which was formerly occupied by Theatre in the Square until it closed in March for financial reasons.

Marietta Theatre artistic director Ed Howard is best known as a creator of the play “Greater Tuna,” in which two actors play the entire cast of characters of both men and women. The first production at the Marietta Theatre, the comedy “The Summer of Daisy Fay,” will make “Tuna” look like an ensemble, with only one performer. Actress Veronika Duerr will play more than 20 characters in the play, which will run through Nov. 25.

“I really believe in minimalism in theater,” said Howard, an east Cobb resident. “This will do ‘Greater Tuna’ one step better.”

Daisy Fay is a character created by Fanny Flagg, author of “Fried Green Tomatoes in the Whistle Stop Café.” Duerr said she started playing the character about two years ago, both at the Alley Stage at the old Theatre in the Square and at Actor’s Express in Atlanta.

“When they decided to put it up as the opener for their theater company, of course I said ‘Yes,’” she said.

The Next Stage Theatre Company reopened the Alley Stage in August under a separate lease with Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein, owner of the building that houses the theater.

Getting a production at Marietta Theatre is the culmination of a process that started shortly after Theatre in the Square closed. While Howard and Gene Bradley, longtime house manager and hostess at Theatre in the Square, are in the process of setting up nonprofit status for the Marietta Theatre, it is getting assistance from the Springer Opera House in Columbus. The Columbus theater is “doing business as” the Marietta Theatre in order to allow tax-deductible donations to the theater here. So far, Howard said the Marietta Theatre has about $25,000 in pledges, most of which have been collected.

Once the theater has a play showing, Howard Bradley expects more people to donate.

“This show is going to get us off to a great start,” he said. “Everybody is so excited about getting the doors to the theater reopened.”

Currently, the Marietta Theatre has a one-year lease with Goldstein, whom Howard Bradley described as “very generous.”

Goldstein would only say that the lease on the property is “flexible.”

“No doubt about it, I’m looking forward to opening up and starting with the first play,” Goldstein said.

Duerr, a Marietta native who now lives in Atlanta, said she looks forward to bringing the theater back.

“Watching the theater close this past season was tragic for me,” she said. “It was shocking to me because, in my opinion, there is such a need for professional theater, and there isn’t enough in Marietta.”

The next planned show at Marietta Theatre will be “A Tuna Christmas,” the second in Howard’s trilogy that takes place in fictional Tuna, Texas. Several shows are in the works for 2013, including one that is put on strictly by volunteers and theater students.

Tickets for “The Summer of Daisy Fay” cost $20 and can be purchased by calling (470) 255-0074. For more information on the theater, visit www.mariettatheatre.org.
Comments
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Deep Throat
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October 11, 2012
Somebody should give John Thigpen a shout, pretty sure if they try to mount his set from TiT's production of Tuna X-mas he will want to get paid. Maybe the volunteers and theatre students can come up with his design fee.
Theatre Fan
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October 06, 2012
Does it seem a poor choice to open a new theatre with a "Tuna" production among it's first season? The Tuna plays have been produced multiple times at the same venue to a consistently pitiful reception. I think Marietta is still old-fashioned enough to not appreciate shows that base their humor on vulgar language and insults to Southerners (furthering stereotypes of being uneducated, preachy, gun-toting, or prejudice). The plays have their charm, but seriously...you need to pick winners to start a new theatre, and I fear Mr. Howard may be shooting himself in the foot.
Deep Throat
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October 11, 2012
I think you're wrong..it isn't the idiocy or the vulgarity that will do this project in modern Amarican theatre in...it's simply the lack of marketing...Goldstiens Marque is still spewing "eat in Mareitta" messages and a poster for the long dead and thankfully gone Lyric production of "Legally Blonde" still graces the windows as of 10/11/12...talk about an up hill battle lol.!
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