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Randy Parton Replaced as GM at Namesake Theater

Posted December 1, 2007
Updated December 3, 2007

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— The new management company for the Randy Parton Theatre brought in some local help to replace the headliner as the facility's general manager.

Boston-based UGL Unicco announced Friday that it hired Rick Reno, the chief executive officer for the Crown Center in Cumberland County. A Louisiana native, Reno managed the opening of the Superdome in 1975 and has spent over 35 years in theater management.

In 2001, Reno came to the Crown Center, charged with bringing in bigger, fresh acts and erasing a budget deficit.

He will face a similar task at the Randy Parton Theatre, which cost Roanoke Rapids $21.5 million in loans but has been troubled by lower than projected attendance and revenue numbers.

Randy Parton – the brother of country legend Dolly Parton – both headlined and managed his namesake theater when it opened on July 26.

But attendance so far has come in below projections of 300,000 for the first year (city officials have not released specific numbers), and on Nov. 20, the city council voted to rewrite the original contract and bring in a new management group.

Unicco officials said they believe Reno is up to the task of enhancing the Randy Parton Theatre's lineup and its bottom line.

“Rick is a nationally known and respected general manager. He’s worked in all aspects of the entertainment industry and is a welcome addition," Jim Craig, Unicco senior director of business development, said.

"His experience will be an asset as we continue to promote this theater as a premier tourist attraction for the region and North Carolina."

One of Reno's first tasks will be to book acts to run in conjunction with Parton’s “Little Bit of Life” and “Carolina Christmas” shows.

The new contract engaged Parton to perform up to 36 times annually for a five-year period, but did not require a minimum amount of shows by him. His annual salary was slashed from $1.5 million to $250,000, with a guaranteed payout of $1 million even if the theater closes before the contract expires.

"What we're doing is converting the theater into still having Mr. Parton come in and do performances on a limited basis, but opening it up to other entertainment," Reno said.

Roanoke Rapids assumed a $475,000 debt Parton owed and banned him from accessing more than $500,000 remaining in his $3 million reserve fund. Councilman Jon Baker estimated the city will end up eating about $2 million on the contract.

The city will pay Unicco about $600,000 for the first year of a two-year contract.

Reno said he expects to be able turn the Randy Parton Theatre into a flourishing entertainment hub. Planners need the theater to anchor Carolina Crossroads, where a hotel, restaurants and 320,000 square feet of specialty and outlet retail stores will be built over the next five years.

“This theater has tremendous potential. The sincerity and optimism from those associated with this project attracted me to the area," Reno said.

"As a seasoned professional in the business, I truly believe my experience will allow me to help this theater thrive and aid in community growth as a whole."

24 Comments

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  • All Aliens Come To Me Dec 5, 2007

    Boy, what a "White Elephant" we have here. Just keep pumping money in and have nothing to show for your investment except a $2,000,000 deficit. Go figure.

  • weasleyes Dec 2, 2007

    Get no-name out of it, serve liquor, open up a casino, with table games (I'll play,) and your problem is solved! RR will not only get its money back, but it will prosper! Why do we keep trying to stop people from spending their own money, in the way they want? NC needs a REAL casino, where they serve booze, meals, etc. Not some facsimile like Cherokee!

  • richard2 Dec 2, 2007

    Randy is this a great country or what?

  • whoknew35 Dec 2, 2007

    The part that gets me is that Roanoke Rapids assumed Randy's $475,000 debt. Good luck with the theater, I hope it pays off in the near future.

  • jedichick Dec 1, 2007

    The idean of the theater sounds pretty good, but Randy Parton? Yeah- THAT'LL bring in money!

  • sparkleyvalentineangel Dec 1, 2007

    Hope it works out. But can somebody tell me who Randy Parton is?

  • retired and luv it Dec 1, 2007

    Who is Randy Parton other than a shrewd businessman? Poor taxpayers are the usual loosers.

  • papa jim Dec 1, 2007

    WHO IS RANDY PARTON ? I wouldn't take the time to pull off the I95 to even see a poster of him. BUT I WOULD JUST LOVE TO SEE THE PEOPLE OF HALIFAX COUNTY AND ROANOKE RAPIDS RUN THE PEOPLE OUT OF TOWN THAT SUPORTED THIS IDEA

  • jackadoo Dec 1, 2007

    Soldier...from what other posters have said, Randy had a couple of mid-level country hits in the 1980's, probably helped by his sisters uhhh... name. RR is not Myrtle Beach or Branson...its market is more like South of the Borders (SOB), only without the sombraro. I am not even sure they serve liquor in RR. The concept may work in the very long run...if other development follows. Given what has happened though, any private development would seem very risky. This new management team may help, but they have a HUGE hole to dig out of. Cant wait to see what happens at the next RR elections for the people on the board that supported this project. Off subject, does anyone know the Lumbee Indians in Robeson Co have been fighting for many years to be recognized as a Tribe by the US Govt. Sounds innocent right? Know why...they want to put a Casino along I-95 at Lumberton. Now there is an investment (but they would not get a dime from me).

  • Big Mike Dec 1, 2007

    Will the real Randy please step forward?

    Randy Travis..nope
    Randy Owens...nope
    Randy Quade...nope

    Con-man....Yep!

    I agree with soldier-medic.....thanks, had a good laugh! Roanoke Rapids will never be Branson Missouri. I think that was the objective once upon a time.

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