Em & Company are among the acts performing in a benefit for The Criterion Theatre on June 30. PHOTO COURTESY OF EM & COMPANY

Em & Company helps celebrate Criterion’s 85th

BAR HARBOR — Em & Company with special guests Bobbi Lane and Trisha Mason will perform at The Criterion Theatre on Friday, June 30, at 8 p.m. in a benefit for the theater to celebrate its 85th anniversary. Doors open at 7 p.m. with pre-show drinks and light refreshments.

“Eighty-five years of anything is worth celebrating,” 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 theater opened on Monday, June 6, 1932 after local businessman and larger-than-life bootlegger George McKay built it 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,” wrote the 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 nonprofit organization, The Criterion continues to bring performing arts and movies to the Mount Desert Island community and beyond in a historic space filled with memories.

“We hear stories all the time from longtime locals or visitors who remember the theater 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.”

Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at www.criteriontheatre.org or at the box office starting at 7 p.m. on June 30.

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