Bar Harbor– Since it opened in 1932, the Criterion Theater has welcomed guests to enjoy various forms of entertainment. But over the years, the theater shifted from a full time theater to a summertime theater, and eventually, it only opened intermittently for special events.
So now, The Bar Harbor Jazz Festival decided it was time to reopen the Criterion Theater for good. But first, there were a few things that needed some fixing.
“We’ve been working to restore the building, we’ve done a complete mold remediation, which was a very major effort. We’ve also re-cushioned and reupholstered the seats and spread them out, giving people more leg room. We’ve secured the roof and the walls of the facility,” said Eli Mellen, Executive Director of the Criterion Theater.
“We replaced the 35mm film projector with a digital projector. The sound system is top notch, it’s a surround sound system. The screen is one of the largest in Maine,” said Michael Boland, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Bar Harbor Jazz Festival.
But despite the renovations, the new owners have made it a point to keep the theater as original as possible.
“The criterion is really one of a kind. The light fixtures, the signs over the bathroom door, the lettering on the doors. Everything is either original or we reproduced it as an exact replica of the original,” Boland said.
The upgrades weren’t cheap. The project costing more that one million dollars so far. But the owners feel passionately that restoring the theater is a necessity.
“I feel like something is really happening with the arts in Maine right now, and we really have the opportunity to be a hub for that,” Mellen said.
The criterion will be open year round for movies, operas, shows, and other sorts of entertainment. The first showing in on Friday, May 1st.