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The Criterion Celebrates its 85th Anniversary with Em & Company

Bar Harbor – The Criterion Theatre is celebrating its 85th Anniversary month with a benefit for the theatre on Friday, June 30. Local band Em & Company with special guests Bobbi Lane and Trisha Mason will perform at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. with pre-show drinks and light refreshments.

“Eighty-five years of anything is worth celebrating and we’re proud to showcase the theatre’s 85th anniversary in grand style on June 30th,” said Executive Director Tamara Crowley. “There will be live music with some of our most beloved local performers, a big nod to a time gone by, and other surprises throughout the night!  The evening is a chance to honor The Criterion’s return as a vibrant and central character in our thriving community and we invite everyone to share in another memory made.”

The 1932 Criterion Theatre opened to wide acclaim on Monday, June 6th 1932 after popular local businessman and larger-than-life bootlegger George McKay built the theatre for $150,000. Opening night drew dozens of congratulatory baskets of flowers to the lobby and nearly 2,000 patrons to the first couple of shows. The audience was treated to a performance by a “clever dog and clever man in an acrobatic act”, roller skaters and musical comedy. “Those who saw the interior of the theatre for the first time expressed amazement and pleasure in its metropolitan effect,” reads a 1932 article from Bangor Daily News. “The scenery, the decorations, the general outline of construction spell something different and new for a comparatively small community.”

Now, as a non-profit organization, The Criterion continues to bring the best in performing arts and movies to the MDI community and beyond in a historic space filled with memories.

“We hear stories all the time from longtime locals or visitors who remember the theatre in different stages of its lifetime,” said Media Manager Kristin Leffler. “Just last week someone told me their grandmother used to play piano during silent movies. I’ve heard stories from people who had their first date with their longtime partner up in the balcony, or who remember seeing their very first movie here with a beloved family member. Walking into the theatre is a very special step back in time for a lot of people, and we hope the community will join us in bringing it into the future.”

Tickets for the performance cost $15 and can be purchased online at or at the box office starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 30. All proceeds support The 1932 Criterion Theatre in continuing to bring live music, theater, children’s programming and movies to the community.

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