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Some Theatre Company, a local theater group noted for its productions of edgy and contemporary plays and musicals, said Tuesday that it is now the second Bangor-area theater company to move into the Bangor Mall.
Some Theatre will join Ten Bucks Theatre Company as the mall’s other performing arts-based tenant. Its board has already signed a lease on the new space, located in the former location of Justice Clothing, between Lane Bryant and Furniture, Mattress and More.
Elaine Bard, executive producing artistic director for Some Theatre, said that though her company long knew it would eventually need to find its own dedicated home, the process of securing a mall space happened quickly.
“We only started the process about three weeks ago,” Bard said. “I think, for us, it really came down to us reaching the limits of what we could do in the space we were in. We had absolutely no room to grow. We’d have three days, sometimes, to build and paint a set and hang all the lights, which is just no time at all. Now, we’ll have all the time in the world.”
Some Theatre has for nearly five years been headquartered at the Keith Anderson Community Center on Bennoch Road in Orono, a community center owned by the town. The space is used by many organizations, including for contra dances with the Orono Contraband, lessons from local dance and martial arts instructors, parties, meetings and other events.
“We love the KA, and it’s been very good to us, but we just need something bigger and that we have access to 24/7,” Bard said. “We can store all our stuff there, instead of in houses and garages and store spaces across the area. We’re amazingly excited.”
Some Theatre Company formed in 2011, with a goal of getting a more diverse group of ages and backgrounds into local theater. It has since produced a number of inventive, challenging plays and musicals — from contemporary musicals “Next to Normal,” “Spring Awakening” and “Rent,” to acclaimed plays such as “Agnes of God,” and “‘Night, Mother,” to big, bloody, special effects-laden musical including “Sweeney Todd” and “Evil Dead: The Musical,” the company’s most recent show, which opened in October.
Bard said she doesn’t consider it a problem that there will be two theater companies in the mall. If anything, she said, it helps both her group and Ten Bucks Theatre Company, which is located on the other side of the mall, near the former Sears.
“I think we do very different things with our respective groups, and I think there’s plenty of audience to go around,” she said. “I think it also will make even more people think about the mall as a place to go for theater and other non-retail stuff.”
Other non-retail businesses and organizations now located at the Bangor Mall include Sunshine Fitness Studio & Wellness Center and House 27:4, a church.
The Bangor Mall has in recent years experienced a number of financial setbacks, including the departure of several anchor stores, including Macy’s and Sears. In September of this year, the city reassessed the mall’s taxable value to $34.5 million for the 2020 fiscal year that started in July, down 27 percent from last year’s assessment of $47.4 million.
The mall is now owned by Mason Asset Management, Namdar Realty Group and CH Capital Group, a group of real estate investors based in Great Neck, New York, that has been buying up distressed malls across the country. They bought the Bangor Mall in April 2019 for $12.6 million, a fraction of its assessed value.
Bard said she and her company members are excited to get to work on renovating their new, 4,000-square-foot space, which she anticipates will be able to seat between 100 and 140 people once they are finished. At the Keith Anderson, they were only able to seat between 50 and 70 people for each show, depending on the stage configuration. She said the first show the company will offer at the new space is “Puffs,” a satire of the Harry Potter books and movies, opening on Feb. 21, 2020.
Some Theatre Company actually held auditions for “Heathers: The Musical” — which is set to premiere in April 2020 — on Tuesday night at the new mall space, mere hours after the group signed the lease and received the keys, Bard said.
“It’s already so much more convenient for everybody,” she said.