May 21, 2019
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Troubled Bar Harbor theater to reopen this week

Bangor Daily News | BDN
Bangor Daily News | BDN
The marquee on the Criterion theater in Bar Harbor as seen on Wednesday, August 6, 2009. BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN BENNETT

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The troubled Criterion Theater and Arts Center will reopen this weekend for the fall, according to theater officials.

The music bands Mondo Charlie and Deja Blue, both based in Hancock County, will perform beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the theater. Annie Menzietti Palmer will be a guest performer with Mondo Charlie.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $8 apiece and can be purchased at the theater box office from noon to 2 p.m. this Wednesday and Friday, or on the night of the show. Tickets also can be purchased during business hours at the Opera House Internet Cafe and Cafe Randonnee.

The bands are playing the fundraiser show for free, donating their time so all the proceeds can go to the theater.

The theater also plans to screen the movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. Tickets for the film will be $10 each, with doors opening at 9 p.m.

The theater has been closed for nearly two months after the former manager decided to shut it down and walk away from his job, with other employees following suit. The former manager cited cash flow problems and communications issues with the theater’s board of directors as his reasons for walking away during the height of Bar Harbor’s summer tourist season.

The theater group has had trouble making lease payments to the theater’s owner, Erin Early-Ward, who purchased the theater in 2007 with her then-husband Anthony Uliano for $1.4 million. Early-Ward began eviction proceedings earlier this summer, but later reached an agreement with the group that set certain payment deadlines.

According to the theater’s new manager, Joseph “Tom” Burton, the theater was able to make its most recent payment of $15,000, which was due Oct. 1. He said theater officials hope to keep the theater open until the end of the year and then to close it for the winter.

High heating bills from previous winters, spending $150,000 in 2008 to rebuild the theater marquee, and a $4,000 fine by the town for not getting full approval for the marquee have contributed to the theater’s financial problems.

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