Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Grand, Ellsworth

Too many visitors to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Ellsworth is like the last reminder of New Jersey, i.e. sprawling retail and pavement before they can take a deep breath and breath in the natural scenery of Mount Desert Island. But behind off of the chain stores and urban blight of signage, parking lots and power lines, the heart of Ellsworth - its downtown area is worth a visit. There are plenty of nice little shops and fine eateries. The jewel of Ellsworth is The Grand. The Grand shows movies and produces excellent regional theater. Every production is professional with great sets, wonderful costumes and amazing acting. Much more than one might expect from this corner of Maine.

The Bar Harbor Insider just saw the latest production - Once Upon A Mattress and it was a wonderful experience especially because of the brand new comfy seating that they recently put in.

"The riotous and much acclaimed Broadway musical comedy, Once Upon A Mattress, comes to the stage of The Grand this spring. In this hilarious revision of the fairy tale, “The Princess and The Pea”, the shrewish Queen Aggravain has ruled that no one may be married before her son, Prince Dauntless, marries. However, she sabotages every princess who comes along, believing none is good enough for her precious son. Mischief and side-splitting antics fill the palace as the court schemes to short-circuit the Queen’s best efforts." - A must see says the Bar Harbor Insider

About The Grand

On July 13, 1938, The Ellsworth American headline read "New Grand Theatre Gala Opening Thursday." Ellsworth's long-awaited new motion picture theatre at last had become a reality. However, between 1950 and 1960, the lights were turned off and the 500 seats of The Grand were empty when structural and financial problems closed the building. By thelate 1960's and early 1970's it was used as a boxing ring, because Ellsworth had "no use" for a downtown moview theater. And in 1974, it was scheduled for demolition.

In 1975 a group of community leaders formed The Hancock County Auditorium Associates, which bought the historic Art Deco landmark for $7,000 and a mortgage of the facility. As it had not been used for several years, The Grand was "a mess." Seats were broken and ripped up, there were mountains of trash, and plugged drains caused water to back up into the theater. The Grand Auditorium re-opened on august 8, 1975, to a standing-room-only crowd for a benefit performance by Noel Paul Stookey.

No comments: