Russell has asked the Marietta City Council for $50,000 to help open the proposed Trackside Theatre Company.
The Council is expected to make a decision on the request before adopting its budget for Fiscal Year 2013 on June 13, said Shannon Barrett, assistant to the city manager.
Funding would come from the city’s auto rental tax, which the Council allocates to various downtown cultural groups to promote tourism every year.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he met with Russell and Susan Reid, who would serve as the new theater’s producing artistic director, last week to go over the proposal.
“Part of their integral plan was to raise $425,000,” Tumlin said.
Given that Theatre in the Square had to close because of a lack of funding, Tumlin said he has reservations about this new theater operating successfully.
“These are basically the same people, so that’s where my reservation about jumping for joy is happening,” Tumlin said. “I hope they have a plan, and I hope they have good success as they spread the word.”
In his request for city funding, Russell proposed opening the Trackside Theatre in October with the play “Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly,” based on a children’s book series. That play would be followed by the “It’s a Wonderful Life” in November; the drama “Tigers Be Still” in January; “HELP,” based on a story about the Beatles, in March; and the Southern comedy “The Red Velvet Cake Wars” in April.
All the lights and seating are still in place in the former Theatre in the Square. Councilman Philip Goldstein, who owns the building, said he bought all the furniture, fixtures and equipment from Bank of North Georgia, who received them from Theatre in the Square when it closed due to a loan agreement.
Goldstein said Russell’s group was interested in leasing the main 225-seat stage, while he had an offer from another group interested in leasing the smaller 125-seat Alley Stage in the building.
“I look forward to getting any part of the theater leased,” Goldstein said.
Palmer Wells, who co-founded Theatre in the Square 30 years ago, said no one from the old board has contacted him about the proposal.
“I don’t know what to think,” Wells said.
Wells was against closing Theatre in the Square, but was outvoted on the board.
“Apparently enough ground work was laid that this has been going on for some time, much longer than when it was announced we were closing,” Wells said of Trackside Theatre, pointing out that Trackside’s articles of incorporation were filed on April 11, less than a month after the Theatre in the Square’s board voted to close.
“To get a season together and lay all this ground work had to have been done a good while in advance of even the board voting,” Wells said. “It smacks of duplicity, certainly.”
Russell and Reid could not be reached by press time.