Local News

Thursday's Show Goes on Without Randy Parton

Posted December 6, 2007
Updated December 7, 2007

— The namesake of the Randy Parton Theatre spoke out for the first time about its financial troubles in an exclusive interview with WRAL – on the night he was asked to leave the property.

Roanoke Rapids city officials confirmed that they asked Parton to go home on Thursday night. They said Parton was not in a state where he should go on stage. Officials with theater's new management company, UGL Unicco, said Parton was "under the weather."

Parton – the brother of country music legend Dolly Parton – walked out of the back of the theater shortly before his show was scheduled to begin.

"I guess we just got thrown out of the place. What do you think?" he said.

Officials said anyone with tickets to Thursday night's show could go see another one for free.

Parton said he thinks he has been treated unfairly, and he criticized the city of Roanoke Rapids. Last month, the city stripped him of his management duties and slashed his annual salary from $1.5 million to $250,000.

Parton both headlined and managed his namesake theater when it opened.

"I've done a good job. I've done everything I'm supposed to do," Parton said. "I have honored all my agreements. I've got a good show."

Mayor Drewery Beale declined to comment on Parton's comments until Friday morning.

City officials say the theater has lost money with lower-than-expected attendance numbers and that Parton nearly exhausted a $3 million reserve fund made of taxpayer money.

Documents obtained by WRAL show that Parton and his associates spent more than $600 of that money at liquor stores from New York to Las Vegas to North Carolina. Parton said he had nothing to do with that.

"No, absolutely not," he said. "Who did? Hell, I spent my own money."

Those same records show another $600 was spent on "partial rent" for an apartment.

"I don't know about that, you know. You know, I mean, I don't know about the money," Parton said.

Under a new agreement, Roanoke Rapids assumed a $475,000 debt Parton owed and banned him from accessing the more than $500,000 remaining in his reserve fund. Parton's role in theater was stripped back to that of performer, engaged for up to 36 times annually for a five-year period, but with no required minimum amount of shows.

Roanoke Rapids borrowed $21.5 million to build the theater, and Councilman Jon Baker estimated the city will end up eating about $2 million on the re-drawn contract.

"I don't care what they think about me," Parton said. "I've done a good job. I've honored my agreements.

"I don't know for sure if the smell is paper mill or politics," the entertainer said.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • richard2 Dec 8, 2007

    Is this a great country or what?

  • Pineview Style Dec 7, 2007

    "Maybe the RPT could be turned into a big crack house, they seem to do well in Roanoke Rapids."

    WOW!! That is harsh. Although I hear there's a lot of that going on over on Vance Street....

  • chrisa Dec 7, 2007

    Maybe the RPT could be turned into a big crack house, they seem to do well in Roanoke Rapids.

  • Pineview Style Dec 7, 2007

    "Local Eats you ask:

    Try Frazier's, Ralph's, 2nd Street, Oscars, Community Drive-In, Pino's............so many little places with such good SOUTHERN cooking!"

    And the Hunam Chinese Restaurant on 10th Sreet (although it's not southern food). Mmmmmmmmm.......

  • Proud RR Native Born and Raised Dec 7, 2007

    What I think...I was born and raised in RR, and I still live here. So I know our towns problems.

  • NotWhatSheSeems Dec 7, 2007

    Many of the posters also made us look like backwards fools. Yes, RR is like any other town--we have our good and our bad. Being a 3rd generation graduate of RRHS, with a child getting ready to graduate from there, maybe I'm a little prejudiced. I still love this town even if we are being buried under a mountain of debt. When my house flooded during Hurricane Floyd, I had people coming from all over town to help us out, many complete strangers. When one of my children had a life threatening asthma attack at Chaloner, teachers and other parents scrambled to help us. That's just one example of good here. Yes, I could sit here and list all the varied wrongs that we've seen over the years, but I'd rather list the good. Naive? Maybe.

    But I sleep really well at night.

  • 3 Sails Dec 7, 2007

    Another friendly person! Case in point. I am making changes...HCC would not of bettered itself if it wasn't for people like me willing to expose the bad and take risks to improve this area for ALL people. The media is a good way to get attention to problems so solutions can be found.

  • 3 Sails Dec 7, 2007

    I agree! But other posters made it seem like it is the best thing since sliced bread...That makes me sick...IT IS no better than anywhere else...RR is not a rose without thorns like some people make it out to be. Your friendly comment is my point.

  • NotWhatSheSeems Dec 7, 2007


    Yes, I remember HCC. And look at it now, with a fine new president who's really making a stand. Instead of complaining, make changes! Do something good for your community.

    Or shut up and move.

  • What_I_Think Dec 7, 2007

    I don't know, Luft has brought up several points. The area has gotten a lot of negative press lately. And before you anyone blasts me for agreeing I grew up in the area and still have family there. So I have first hand knowledge.