At its season preview, August 25, Penobscot Theatre Company invited patrons to take their seats-literally-kicking off a campaign to replace the chairs at the historic Bangor Opera House, many of which are held fast by duct tape and generally dilapidated. "It's time to match the quality of our audience's seating experience to the quality we produce on stage," said Executive Director Mary Budd.
"Our seats have supported a lot of seats - more than 30,000 annually in recent years - and they are worn out! With specially designated gifts, patrons can help shape the next chapter of our theatre's history while enhancing their own experience in a very tangible way." The new seats will feature brass plaques on the armrests recognizing Take a Seat Campaign participants who contribute at the seat sponsorship level: $350 for one seat or $650 for two.
The historic Bangor Opera House, owned and operated by Penobscot Theatre Company since 1997, was built in 1920, and the seats date back at least to the mid-1960s when the building was converted to a cinema house. "Documentation of the original purchase and installation is missing," explained Budd, "but some claim the seats came to the Opera House from a defunct adult movie palace. Today, lots are torn and with no replacement parts, we have resorted to duct tape repairs, and many squeak and thump as patrons seek comfortable positions."
Through this campaign, the theatre aims to raise $100,000, which will cover the cost of purchase and installation of state-of-the-art seats made in Maine by industry leader Hussey Seating Company. "We have a model of the new seat we've selected on display in our lobby," said Budd, "and we invite community members to try it out!" Ergonomically engineered and designed to last, the chairs have a timeless sculptured appearance that harmonizes with the building's art deco architectural features.
The Take a Seat Campaign complements a larger effort to address the theatre's most urgent facility needs. In addition to seat replacement, funds raised through the public campaign will help offset the cost of replacing the building's heating and cooling system; insulating bare walls; and upgrading the company's theatrical lighting to LED, the new industry standard. "Altogether, heating, seating, and LED-ing, are going to cost about $300,000," Budd projected. "Last spring, the theatre received a $100,000 award through the Grants to Green program, jointly administered by the Maine Community Foundation, the Maine Development Foundation, and Efficiency Maine, which really got the ball rolling; followed by a $30,000 award from the Quimby Family Foundation. Our goal is ambitious, but with the community's support and a concerted push for the tush, we can ensure excellent theatrical experiences for decades to come."
Those wishing to participate in the Take a Seat Campaign or to learn more are encouraged to contact the box office at (207) 942-3333.