JOLIET – A Rialto Square Theatre board member is backing an online petition drive aimed at upsetting last week’s selection of two finalists in the theater’s search for a third-party manager.
Board member Mary Beth Gannon said she wants Onesti Entertainment to be the third-party manager of the Rialto.
Onesti is not one of the finalists.
The online petition drive at www.petitionbuzz.com supporting company owner Ron Onesti as the Rialto’s next general manager had 842 signatures as of Saturday afternoon.
Gannon, who was a leader in the grassroots effort that blocked a new marquee at the theater, said she wants to stop the Rialto from moving ahead with the finalists chosen last week.
“I am going to try to stop it,” she said. “I don’t know how, but I’m going to find a way.”
Gannon said she planned to present the petition at the committee’s next meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, when a choice is set to be made between VenuWorks and Pinnacle Venue Services.
Those two companies were a nearly unanimous choice at an open meeting in which the committee, which consists of the entire Rialto board plus several others included in the process, graded company proposals based on certain criteria.
Onesti finished last among the five proposals with Gannon appearing to be the only committee member favoring his proposal. Gannon said she believes Onesti would be more successful in bringing shows to the Rialto.
Onesti is the owner and manager of the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and is known by local theatergoers.
“He said he could put on three to seven events a week,” Gannon said.
Gannon said the petition drive was started by her friend Betsy Barnett of Joliet and she supports it.
Barnett wrote up the petition and posted it online, but she and Gannon both came up with the idea.
“We kind of worked on it together,” Barnett said.
“I’m a good friend of Ron’s,” Barnett said. “I’ve known Ron for a long time.”
Barnett said she formerly did booking for a band and booked appearances at the Arcada. She also attends shows at the St. Charles theater.
Many of the signers of the petition also go to the Arcada and are impressed with the theater, she said.
“These are just people who are familiar with Ron, who live in Joliet, and know what he can bring to the table,” Barnett said.
Rialto Board Chairman Dan Vera could not be reached for comment.
Pat Mudron, the Joliet City Council’s liaison to the Rialto board and a member of the selection committee, said he considered the Onesti proposal lacking in details. If the committee makes a final choice on Monday, the Rialto board could consider approving the third-party management company at its meeting Wednesday.