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Bangor's historic Penobscot Theatre Company celebrated in 50th season

Pulitzer-prize winning play "Crimes of the Heart" and a customized brew at Orono Brewing Company kick off the theatre's 50th anniversary.

BANGOR, Maine — The Penobscot Theatre Company is celebrating 50 years. For the start of its 50th season, the theater is revisiting the production of Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Crimes of the Heart."

Jonathan Berry is the artistic director of the Penobscot Theatre. He said he’s thrilled to bring back the production of the play for the 50th anniversary, since this play was the final production of one of the theatre’s founders, George Vafiadis.

“I wanted to start our 50th season with a play that really put its focus on community, " Berry said.

Berry said the play puts front and center the idea of community and highlights the importance of supporting the communities in which we belong. He said he believes the theater is still serving Greater Bangor because of the community support throughout the good and bad times.

“The Bangor community has been such a remarkable home for us for 50 years. They have supported us through all kinds of things, most recently the pandemic," Berry explained.

"Crimes of the Heart" is a three-act play, centered around three sisters and their familial relationship and the deep struggles they face, as they come to terms with choices in life they’ve made. They're struggles often relatable to audiences. 

Berry typically sits in the director’s chair but will be on stage acting in the role of Doc Porter, a role he’s visiting after being off of the stage for 15 years. On the other hand, a member of the ensemble, Julian Arnold Lisnet, is taking the opportunity to direct the season’s debut production.

Another highlight for the theater’s 50th season is the launch of a special IPA brew created in collaboration with Orono Brewing Company. The IPA, named the "Fourth Wall," was designed by Jusin Soderberg at the brewery, with art on the beer can paying homage to the theatre and its legacy.

Brewery owners say they're excited to share in the theater’s 50th celebration with this special IPA.

“Having a local theater in Bangor that's just so ingrained in the community is just so great for us. It’s great for them. It’s a win-win situation,“ Mark Horton, co-owner of OBC, stated.

As a partnership project with OBC, Berry said the pairing of the "Fourth Wall" launch with the season debut of "Crimes of the Heart" is exemplary of community collaboration and partnerships that are mutually beneficial. Berry said he believes community is at the heart of the play, so the special brew made it a perfect fit for the 50th season.

“Our audiences are still coming, and I want to celebrate that,” Berry expressed.

For more information about the theater’s 50th anniversary programming, the opening play, "Crimes of the Heart," and dining services at the Stage Door Café, visit Penobscot Theatre’s webpage.

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