Local News

Roanoke Rapids officials to meet with possible theater buyer

Posted August 14, 2008 10:07 a.m. EDT

— Roanoke Rapids officials plan to travel to Chicago next week to meet with a businessman interested in buying the former Randy Parton Theatre.

Mayor Drewery Beale, City Manager Phyllis Lee, some City Council members, some theater advisory members and some residents will make the trip, Lee said. Everyone will pay their own expenses on the trip, she said.

Chicago businessman Lafayette Gatling, who owns a chain of funeral homes and real estate development projects, has expressed interest in buying the embattled Roanoke Rapids Theatre. Gatling also performs in a gospel music group.

Roanoke Rapids spent about $21.5 million to build the theater, hoping it would be an entertainment destination and help the region's struggling economy. Randy Parton, the brother of country music star Dolly Parton, was brought in to perform at and manage the theater.

City officials cut ties with Parton in December and renamed the facility amid slow ticket sales and allegations of misused funds.

The city also recently received a proposal from gospel singer Russ Collins and Jeff Wilson, who has managed a theater in Louisiana, about managing the music theater.