Roanoke Rapids The New Branson?

Officials in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., are ready to join Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., as a big live entertainment destination with the help of country singer Randy Parton.

Parton, the brother of Dolly Parton, has an agreement with the city and private developers to build the 1,500-seat Randy Parton Theater as the centerpiece of a $129 million entertainment complex including hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

Parton plans to host concerts featuring country, pop, beach and gospel music in addition to performing at his namesake venue.

“I saw this as a place we could create something like we had at home — in Dollywood or Branson,” he told the city’s Daily Herald. “We have a lot to offer people. … It’s not just a theatre, but things for different age groups.”

Parton also said that sister Dolly is planning to help with the process and stop by as a guest star in the future.

Meetings with architects were expected to get under way in mid-July and officials said the complex could open in spring 2007.