“We are thrilled to be able to perform in a venue that has the joy of size, a full 44-foot wide proscenium stage with wing space, large dressing rooms and large orchestra pit. It’s absolutely perfect for a musical theater company,” Lyric artistic director and general manager Brandt Blocker told the Marietta Daily Journal on Thursday.
The Lyric called the Strand “home” for the past five years, ever since the Strand’s reopening after a lavish renovation. But the boards of the Lyric and the Strand were unable to come to agreement on the terms of a new contract. Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin stepped in at the last minute to try and broker a deal, but was unsuccessful.
Blocker told the Journal that the new contract with the county, under which his company will pay the county about $7,000 per show, will be more beneficial to the Lyric’s bottom line.
“That would (come to) $80,000 less a year than the Strand Theatre,” Blocker said. “It is a lot of savings to the Lyric, so this will hopefully help us fix the balance sheet. We enjoyed our time at the Strand, we really enjoyed being there, but it was an expensive proposition for us, and we had to make some changes. As a nonprofit or for-profit, you’ve got to keep the books balanced, so this will help us play some catch up on what we’ve been paying for the past several years.”
Meanwhile, Tumlin is hoping to work out a separate deal with the Marietta Trolley Co. to shuttle Lyric-goers to and from the Square, in hopes of lessening the impact of the Lyric’s departure on the Square’s many eateries and nightspots.
“We’re so programmed to have everything on the Square, but Jennie T. Anderson will be a great place, and it might open up other opportunities for other restaurants and other economic development out there because they will draw a lot of people,” Tumlin said.
Echoed Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee, who played an important role in keeping the Lyric here, “The arts in Cobb are very important to the quality of life for the folks in the city of Marietta and Cobb County, and anytime there is an opportunity for an arts group to be successful I think it’s good for the community at large.”
The Lyric’s new season will kick off Aug. 9 with “The Producers,” followed by “Guys and Dolls” in October, Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies” in January and, down the road, “Annie the Musical” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
That’s a strong lineup of shows, for sure. And Marietta and Cobb — and the theater-going public — are very fortunate that a theater company of such high quality has chosen not just to come to Cobb, but to stay in Cobb.