The Park Record editorial, May 20, 2009 |

The Park Record editorial, May 20, 2009

Egyptian Theatre casts the right man for the role

Egyptian Theatre leaders didn’t have to conduct a national search to find a great candidate to step in as manager. After months of battling a rising tide of red ink, in March they canceled their previously announced season and parted ways with their artistic director. Vowing to raise the curtain on a new, more prosperous season, they picked a local event producer with a proven track record Mountain Town Stages founder Randy Barton.

Barton is by no means stepping into a turnkey operation. The Egyptian’s board wants to revamp the historic theatre’s playbook that in recent years has relied heavily on elaborate, locally produced musicals.

The Broadway-type fare, however, was expensive to stage and required a lot of rehearsal time. That meant, on many weekends, the paying seats were empty even as visitors were meandering up and down Main Street wishing there was something else to do after dinner.

Barton has a plan to fill those seats, and those who have attended the events he presented on stages all around town over the years know he can produce the goods. Several winters ago Barton staged a series of intimate coffeehouse concerts at the Egyptian with nationally known artists like Maria Muldaur and Tom Rush.

He can also take credit for establishing the hugely popular free outdoor concert series produced by Mountain Town Stages. The nonprofit he founded enlivened stages from The Canyons to Peoa including the annual Cow Ballet, a down-home rodeo of humor, music and family fun.

Barton’s new assignment is a tough one. Arts groups are facing hard times as benefactors and audiences trim their discretionary spending. But we believe Barton’s commitment to "live, local entertainment" is the right direction. The trick will be to create a novel niche without treading on other nonprofits like the Performing Arts Foundation or the city’s established nightclubs. But that still leaves room for jazz nights, one-man shows, traveling theater troupes, folk musicians and literary readings.

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The good news is that Barton’s roots run deep in the garden of local entertainment and we can’t wait to see what sprouts up on the Egyptian stage.