History of the Opera HousePenobscot Theatre Company (PTC) has its roots in the Acadia Repertory Theatre, founded in Bangor in 1973 by George Vafiadis and Lou Collier. Acadia Rep presented 97 productions in Bangor before Penobscot Theatre Company was incorporated as a 501(c)3 on March 17, 1983. The School For Wives was the first play officially produced by PTC. Acadia Rep still operates on Mount Desert Island as a separate entity, while PTC is the only year-round, professional regional theatre in Northern Maine.
George Vafiadis oversaw PTC’s early development, serving as Producing Director from 1983 through 1990. Joining him was Kenneth Stack, PTC's Artistic Director from 1983 to 1989. Bangor’s historic parish house at 183 Main Street was the first site of PTC performances and operations. In 1986, the theatre raised $160,000 for the purchase and initial renovation of the property. Penobscot Theatre sold the parish house to Merrill Bank in 2004.
Joe Turner Cantu became Artistic Director in 1990 and remained in that position through 1992, when the board of directors named Mark Torres Producing Artistic Director. Torres led the theatre for the next 13 seasons. During his tenure, the theatre reorganized to operate withpaid professionals, tripled the budget and increased attendance to more than15,000 annually. Torres also broadened the theatre's activity to include the annual Maine Shakespeare Festival, which performed on the banks of the Penobscot River for seven summers.
In 1997, Penobscot Theatre acquired the Bangor Opera House, which now serves as the company's base of operations. Built in 1920 and located at 131 Main Street, the Bangor Opera House, is the lastremaining theatre in downtown Bangor, a community that supported seven suchvenues in the first part of the 20th Century. The Opera House is an early example of Art Deco/Egyptian Revival architecture.
In 2005, the board hired Scott R.C. Levy as Producing Artistic Director. Under Levy's leadership from 2005-2011, Penobscot Theatre Company toured productions throughout the state of Maine,created the Northern Writes New Play Festival, produced some of the best-attended productions in the theatre's history, and restored the façade of the Bangor Opera House.
Upon Levy’s departure, the board instituted a new dual leadership structure, and hired Marcie Bramucci as Managing Director and Bari Newport as Artistic Director. Working in close collaboration, they are charting the course for continued growth through sound management, strong programming, adherence to the highest professional standards, and the development of enduring community-based partnerships.
With the approach of the theatre’s 40th anniversary, the stage is set for continued success. PTC’s 2011 production of A Christmas Story, directed by Interim Artistic Director Nathan Halverson, had the highest attendance of any show in the theatre’s history. Beyond the theatre's main stage season, PTC's educational and outreach programming is the largest in the state, serving thousands of Maine youths through school-based workshops, student matinees, and summer and after-school programs.
The consistent quality of performances and the diversity of the theatre’s offerings have earned PTC a special place within the fabric of the greater Bangor community. With its strong leadership, talented and dedicated staff, and the ongoing support of local businesses and individuals, Penobscot Theatre Company will continue to play an integral role in the economic development of Bangor’s downtown, the vitality of the region’s cultural community, and the lives of area residents and visitors.