Marquee crowns opera house renovation

Posted Dec. 03, 2008, at 10:37 p.m.

As one half of the brand-new marquee for the Bangor Opera House dangled from a crane Wednesday afternoon, a passenger in a car driving past flagged Penobscot Theatre producing artistic director Scott Levy down.

“Looks good, Scott!” she said, stopped in traffic at the intersection of Main and Union streets in downtown Bangor. “Looks excellent, it really does.”

Workers from the Ohio-based Wagner Electric Sign Co. installed the 40-foot-by-10-foot marquee that arrived on a flatbed truck Wednesday morning. The marquee is the final major component of the renovation of the Bangor Opera House façade — a process that began more than two years ago, when the old marquee was removed in September 2006.

“It’s been quite a process,” said Levy. “It’s really great to see it really take shape now. We’ve spent close to a million dollars on the whole thing, all told.”

Most of the funding for the project has come from public funds, including $285,000 through Bangor’s Community Development Block Grant program, a $15,000 grant from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, and money from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation.

Durell Buzzini, president of the Penobscot Theatre’s board of directors, was on hand that afternoon, watching the brown-and-gold marquee get affixed to the front of the building.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since 1987,” said Buzzini. “We’ve wanted to restore the Opera House in 1989, but it never got off the ground. With Scott arriving, we finally had more than one champion for the project. And he actually got the job done.”

The marquee is constructed from aluminum and steel, with 270 small lights underneath, which will lend a sparkling glamour to the look of it. Gold medallions jut from the top, and the words “Penobscot Theatre Company” are emblazoned across the front.

“It was really important for us to have our name on it,” said Levy. “It’s the Bangor Opera House, but it’s the Penobscot Theatre’s marquee. The Opera House is our home.”

In keeping with the historically accurate art deco look of the façade, Levy and board members decided against installing any sign atop the marquee, digital or otherwise. The theater will hang signs from the marquee, however, to advertise its productions — such as the PTC’s Christmas shows, “A Year With Frog and Toad” and “A Tuna Christmas,” which open Dec. 10 and 13, respectively.

“We wanted it to look like it would have in the 1920s,” said Levy. “A big sign would have spoiled that. This way, it looks really elegant, without all kind of bright, flashing lights.”

eburnham@bangordailynews.net

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