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Arts & Culture

Historic Theaters: A Great Setting for Any Show

The Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor

The Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor

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There’s a good chance that if you’re attending a performing arts event in Maine, the theater setting will be just as impressive as the show itself. Across the state, more than a dozen historic theaters built in the late 1800s or early 1900s are still in use as theater, concert and movie venues and are worth a visit for anyone interested in history or the arts.

  • A beautiful combination of Moorish and Art Deco architecture, the State Theatre in downtown Portland reopened in 2010 as a 1,680-seat performing arts venue, hosting well-known national music acts.
  • Farther up the coast of Maine, the Strand Theatre in downtown Rockland has been entertaining audiences since 1923. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the theater underwent extensive renovation in 2005. The calendar at this multi-use venue includes independent cinema, live musical performances and other special events.
  • When the Bangor Opera House was built in 1920, it was one of seven such theaters in downtown Bangor. Today this early example of Art Deco/Egyptian Revival architecture is the last one remaining, being put to good use as the home of the Penobscot Theatre.
  • In the DownEast region, you’ll find the Stonington Opera House, built in 1912 and now home to Opera House Arts’ busy schedule of events. Its intimate 250-seat setting and warm acoustics make it perfect for everything from first-run feature films and professional and community theater to musical evenings that are as likely to feature jazz as they are folk music.
  • Since 1900, Cumston Hall has towered dramatically over Monmouth’s Main Street with its exquisite stained-glass windows and eccentric asymmetric design. The inside of the building is no less dramatic, as the home of Maine’s official Shakespearean troupe, Theater at Monmouth, a repertory company founded in 1970.