BAR HARBOR—ImprovAcadia co-founders Jennifer Shepard and Larrance Fingerhut are permanently closing the Bar Harbor venue to pursue a year-round alliance with the Penobscot Theatre Company (PTC) in Bangor, where Shepard has accepted a full-time position as executive director.
“It will still be ImprovAcadia, but instead at the Penobscot Theatre Company,” Shepard said.
Fingerhut noted that ImprovAcadia has done almost 5,000 shows over 16 years at its Cottage Street location. “Obviously we feel disappointed that we didn’t get a farewell year of performances in (Bar Harbor), but it was just the right time,” Shepard said.
Shepard and Fingerhut hosted performances from Memorial Day weekend through October with a rotating cast from all over the country that performed a different show every night.
Due to the governor’s enforced indoor gathering capacity restrictions, ImprovAcadia remained closed to the public last year. “The [Bar Harbor] location seats only 60 people, [so] after calculating the square footage, between the audience and the cast, we could only host six audience members in there, which just wasn’t viable,” Shepard said. “We had to be completely closed last year, which is why I took my new position at PTC.”
The job offer Shepard received from PTC was a great opportunity for the couple to create a somewhat year–round performance operation in Bangor.
“We’ve been collaborating with PTC for the last two years; we’ve done an improvised Christmas show for them,” Fingerhut said.
“In a normal setting, the Bangor Opera House [a PTC venue] seats 350, so depending on where restrictions are, obviously, yes, we can have a much bigger audience there,” Fingerhut added.
ImprovAcadia will also be performing shows at PTC’s smaller venue on 51 Main Street. “We’ve been doing shows at that venue for the past two years and are planning our next performance there for the winter of 2022,” Shepard said.
Though ImprovAcadia will perform fewer shows at PTC because they will share space with the different wings of the theatre company, Shepard noted the future performances will be “more special, different, from the shows we did in the Bar Harbor space and more akin to the theater.”
ImprovAcadia is currently on the PTC schedule for 10 shows. “That number could change. We are waiting now to see how restrictions will ease,” said Fingerhut.
Meanwhile, the couple is delighted to announce ImprovAcadia’s first project at the Bangor Opera House called “Ready Set, Go!,” which is set to premiere in November.
“Although we’re closing, it’s not an ending, it’s a transformation, I guess. I just want folks to know that it’s just going to be different than it was before,” said Shepard.