Merrill Auditorium Portland
Built in 1912 to replace two former halls both destroyed by fire, City Hall Auditorium was a classic example of colonial style, boasting porticos and columns, a deep court and large wings. Cyrus Curtis, a publishing tycoon, donated the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, a celebrated instrument with 5,000 pipes of varying sizes that was incorporated into the stage. Many famous performers have graced the auditorium stage, including John Philip Sousa, Arthur Fiedler, George Gershwin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, La Scala Grand Opera Company, Jessye Norman, Marilyn Horne, James Galway, Alvin Ailey, Itzhak Perlman, Van Cliburn, Ray Charles, Bruce Hornsby and Garrison Keiller. Although minor improvements and major renovations occurred in the 1960's, the auditorium continued to be haunted by dismal acoustics and poor sightlines. Plans proposed by Winton Scott Architects were accepted and renovations began in January 1996.
Today, the re-named Merrill Auditorium is a 1900 seat performing arts facility, located in beautiful downtown Portland, Maine. www.porttix.com
Maine State Music Theater
Victoria Crandall, affectionately known as Vicki, opened her summer playhouse in the Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College campus in 1959 with a production of The Song of Norway. It was an adventurous undertaking in many ways: Vicki was a woman working in a field dominated by men and she was producing nine shows, one per week, all with full sets, costumes and chorus. The following year she reduced the number of productions to seven, running two shows for two weeks at a time. Vicki’s audiences were building rapidly. Now Named The Maine State Music Theater, located on Elm Street in Brunswick, the talent still produces awe inspiring performances. See. www.msmt.org.
By the late '60s, Maine was filled with summer playhouses. In fact, the entire New England area was saturated with theatres that made up the Straw Hat Circuit, as The New York Times called it. Many of these playhouses featured TV and film stars in romantic comedies, but few were exclusively musical theatre houses.
Here is a recent Theater listing as seen in www.pressherald.com