New York concert producer takes reigns at Portland's State Theatre

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PORTLAND — After a more than four-year hiatus, the State Theatre is expected to reopen this fall, bringing music back to the 80-year-old building.

New York City-based concert promoter The Bowery Presents has teamed up with Vermont promoter Alex Crothers of Higher Ground Presents and longtime local promoter Lauren Wayne to breath life into the Congress Street space.

The Bowery Presents promotes concerts at several well-known venues in New York, including the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge. Bowery also books shows in Boston, at venues including the Middle East and Royale Nightclubs, and the Wang Theatre.

Crothers reportedly approached Bowery executives with the idea of taking over the State, which has been looking for a promoter. A Bowery representative said Maine had not been on the company’s radar.

“But once we visited Portland and toured the State Theatre, we fell in love with the city and saw the potential in the theater that will appeal to Portland’s creative community,” the company’s Jim Glancy said.

Wayne will book performances for the State and oversee production management, box office and ticketing, and concessions. She will also oversee continuing renovations of the building, which have been underway on and off since the theater closed in 2006. Part of the reason the place was shuttered was because of safety and fire code violations.

The owner of the building, Stone Coast Properties, has rewired, built a new fire escape, moved bathrooms and repaired the ceiling. More than $1 million in renovations has been pumped into the building in the past few years, according to Stone Coast.

The theater will be reseated for a capacity of 1,450, according to the promoters. There are also plans to modernize the sound system and update lighting.

City Councilor David Marshall, whose district includes the State, said “it is a key piece to arts and culture in the city.” He said the theater is a magnet for the arts district, and also noted there are other large investments happening along that part of Congress Street,including the apartments at 645 Congress and the Baxter Library.

“It will provide further economic spin-off,” Marshall said.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]