Don Goodner, who has operated the Children’s Garden Theatre in northeast Cobb the past two years, will take the keys to the downtown Marietta theater from landlord and City Councilman Philip Goldstein today. He will be the third operator of the facility in just under a year.
Palmer Wells, who started the Theatre in the Square with his late partner Mike Horne in 1982 and moved it to its current location at 11 Whitlock Ave. in 1985, closed the theater in March 2012 after its board failed to raise enough money to keep it in operation.
Ed Howard, creator of the play “Greater Tuna,” reopened the site as the Marietta Theatre in November, but it didn’t last long before budget issues caused it to again exit stage left.
New theater company formed
Goodner’s theater company, renamed Young Actors Playhouse, will celebrate taking over the site with a Friday ribbon cutting and open its first production, “Beauty and the Beast,” on March 8. The company plans two more shows in March, with “13: The Musical” and “Back to the Beanstalk,” a retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” that Goodner wrote.
Goodner, a Canton resident, said he has 27 of his actors, between 6 and 20 years old, preparing for “Beauty and the Beast,” another 27 readying for “Back to the Beanstalk” and 22 rehearsing for “13.”
“They’re really good shows,” Goodner, 38, said. “I don’t like to brag, except I do.”
Not all Goodner’s shows will be aimed at kids. A production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is slated to open in late April, with “Legally Blonde” opening in May. Those shows will feature adult actors like Pete Borden and will be directed by Barbara Rudy.
The productions will be a mixture of proven shows and Goodner originals, he said.
Better luck this time?
Goodner said a two-year record of success at his theater’s former location on Canton and Blackwell roads in northeast Cobb is something that separates him from the previous occupants of the Theatre in the Square.
“I believe that gives us an edge that perhaps Mr. Howard didn’t have,” Goodner said. “We just do this because we love putting on plays. Hopefully the community will give us a chance, to embrace us and show what kind of performers we are.”
The Young Actors Playhouse is able to find creative solutions to budgetary restraints, Goodner said.
“I believe we have a different mindset about what it takes to keep a theater running,” he said.
Goodner said Goldstein has been accommodating and supportive of his project.
“He’s given me advice and information on how to better get off the ground,” Goodner said.
Along with his actors, Goodner is joined by music director Jennifer Loudermilk and choreographer Zac Phelps, both of whom have worked with him for more than a year.
Loudermilk said audiences will be surprised how well the children perform.
“I have high expectations and they push themselves to new limits,” said Loudermilk, who has been performing for more than 20 years. “I’ve never seen so many actors blossom into young adults. They’ve really grown as actors.”
With a larger stage and more time to rehearse at the 225-seat Theatre in the Square than what the theater company is used to, Phelps said he expects to see improved performances from the kids.
“It’s going to be great seeing the kids perform and get their names out there,” he said. “It’s a lot of talent, and we want them to be successful.”