DMDA should focus spending on Square area
July 02, 2013 11:39 PM | 1640 views | 7 7 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print

So the Downtown Marietta Development Authority is spending $4,500 in tax money to provide shuttle service for theatergoers from the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre to Marietta Square during the run of the next show by the Atlanta Lyric Theatre? There is speculation the city might do this on an ongoing basis. I presume the goal is to increase the dollars spent on the Square and give the Lyric a selling point. As a theatergoer and an avid fan of the Square, I can appreciate both motives.

However, there is not enough attention paid to the fact there are three theater groups on the Square, one which brings 200 or more people to the Square every weekend. These are theatergoers and parents of performers, all of whom come to see shows or bring their kids to rehearsals. Most eat and shop on the Square. I’m pretty sure Marietta Pizza can attest to the crowds on show nights.

In the area known as The Alley Stage, Rob Hardie and his organization bring professional quality musicals to the stage on a regular basis. At present, “Jesus Christ, Superstar” is the fare from Next Stage Theatre, with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” to follow.

Don Goodner’s Young Actors Playhouse, performing in the Theatre in the Square venue, has new shows monthly for the young and young at heart. In addition, his group the Marietta Players brings outstanding drama to the big stage 10 times a year. In September you can see “You Can’t Take it With You,” a fun family show. Following that, the October show is “The Boys Next Door” and in November, an original play by MDJ columnist Pete Borden. It is called “The Back Side of Stone Mountain.” I will definitely have to see that one. The teaser I read from it says that one of the principal characters and I share the same name.

A few steps north of the Square is the second oldest continuously performing community theater in Cobb. The Polk Street Players, beginning their 35th season with a redneck comedy called “Rex’s Exes,” performs four shows a year in the basement of St. James Episcopal.

The point is I don’t see a lot of support for any of these theaters in the local media, or among the local merchants, aside from Schillings. If the DMDA is willing to spend $4,500 to transport people from nearby theater to downtown Marietta and back, it seems to me that it would be more worth their while and that of the businesses on the Square to get behind and promote the theaters already there and in continuous operation. They bring hundreds to the Square every weekend, which is at least as many as, or maybe more than, the Lyric and the Strand bring to town

George B. Middleton


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For-Profit Problem
July 09, 2013
These companies should get better marketing and development directors; fundamental tools in promoting theatres in small towns like Marietta. It's not that people choose one company over another, it's that people just don't know these companies exist. Companies like Next Stage are also for-profit organizations, so it makes it tough for the city to "help" them with extra funding and support.

And the Strand is a huge facility, in comparison to the tiny houses at the Alley Stage and Young Actors Playhouse. Try supporting these venues and companies, not challenging and competing with them. But, frankly, as someone who has seen performances at all of the companies you mentioned, Next Stage and YAP needs to up the quality of their work before the "why not us?" cries. Remember, just because you pay your actors doesn't make you a "professional theatre". This is why I am a subscriber at the Lyric and I enjoy Brew with a View at the Strand. I love Polk Street Players for community theatre. What can YAP and Next Stage provide for me that these places can't?
Devlin Adams
July 09, 2013
Where did you get the idea that Next Stage is a for profit organization? I did not read anything in Mr. Middleton's letter that suggest the city fund Next Stage, or YAP.

Secondly, I did not read anywhere where he challenged the Lyric or the Strand.

Third, you are operating on false information. YAP does not pay their actors, nor do I recall seeing where Middleton refered to them as "professional theater". In fact, YAP is a non-profit organization, certified as such.

I'm not sure from where your bitterness arises, but if you, as you say, support the Lyric and the Strand, as well as Polk Street Players, why do you have such caustic remarks to make about Next Stage and YAP.

In closing, you ask what YAP and Next Stage can offer that the Lyric, the Strand and Polk Street Players cannot. The answer is simple. CHOICES!

Speaking of "choices" why do you fell you must choose which theaters to support? why not support them all?
Don G
July 15, 2013
You are absolutely right in that we need to "up the quality of our work before the "why not us?"" cries. This is precisely why we here at YAP/MP haven't gone to the city or DMDA for funds.

We are completely self sufficient, and as we grow, we are confident that the quality of our productions will improve. While public funds would be nice, we don't need them. Sometimes I wonder if we would get more attention if we spent more time begging the city for money.

No theatre company is an overnight success. It takes countless hours from countless people to build it into something as prestigious as Theatre in the Square or the Lyric. However, Michael and Palmer both had to start somewhere. There were many productions when they had 5 people in the audience. We are just blessed to be able to perform in this historic location.

Thank you for giving us a chance here. We know that in time, we will be able to live up to the legend that Michael and Palmer created.
Pete Borden
July 03, 2013
Mr. Middleton,as the author and director of "The Back Side of Stone Mountain", I want to thank you for the boost you gave the show and, indeed, to all downtown Marietta theaters and their work.

When you come to the show, I hope you will make yourself known to me so that I can thank you personally.

The character, George Middleton, is loosely based on my maternal grandfather, whose name was George Benjamin Middleton. I note that your middle initial is also B, so I am curious if it also stands for Benjamin.

Again, thank you and I look forward to "shakin' and howdyin'" with you.
George B. Middleton
July 03, 2013
Thank you Mr. Borden. I shall make it a point to introduce myself to you when I come to your play.

No, the "B" in my name doe snot stand for Benjamin, rather for Bernard. My father, from whom I inherited my love of the theater, was great fan of a young Irish playwright by the name of George Bernard Shaw. He named me after the man.

Good luck with the play and I do look forward to seeing it and meeting you.
Don G
July 03, 2013
Thanks Mr. Middleton! The support we really need here at 11 Whitlock is awareness. Too often every day I talk to people who have no idea that this theatre building is even open again. The feedback we are getting from our new subscribers to our 2013-2014 Season is how happy they are that the theatre is open, because they miss coming to the Square.
simply stunning
July 03, 2013
It is simply stunning at how little is done to market the Square, with all its great restaurants, the museums, especially the History Museum (which is a little gem), and all the entertainment. Marietta is rife with history and it is, for the most part, ignored. How dumb can you get? If you want people to come to the Square, you need to really make the effort to exploit these places. If someone is already being paid to do this, I suggest they find someone else with some fresh ideas.
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