Randy Parton Theatre Negotiations

A Chicago businessman is in talks with Roanoke Rapids, N.C., to purchase the former Randy Parton Theatre, according to city officials.

Lafayette Gatling, a member of a gospel group and owner of a chain of funeral homes and real estate projects, is discussing purchasing the $21.5 million theatre, according to WRAL-TV news.

The city is also reportedly in talks with Calvin Gilmore, owner and operator of Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to take over management of the theatre.

The city hired Randy Parton, brother of Dolly Parton, to be the main attraction at the theatre, which was meant to inject tourism dollars in to the region’s sputtering economy. Instead, the city bought Parton out of his contract earlier this year after Parton failed to bring in the desired crowds and was accused of performing intoxicated.

Meanwhile, a Roanoke Rapids taxpayer has filed a lawsuit against Parton and others, claiming the backers of the theatre misled the city to get public financing.