Modern Theatre

525 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111

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Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 31, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Movie screenings at the new Modern Theatre begin next month. A full list is here:

Feb. 2-4: Michael Cimino Retrospective: Heaven’s Gate, Deer Hunter, Year of the Dragon
Feb. 8: Russian shorts
Feb. 14-17: Dennis Lehane Retrospective: Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island
Feb. 24: Vlada Petric’s The Wall of Memories

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Today’s Boston Herald has a feature article about new arts facilities in Boston. It says that the Modern Th. project cost a total of $42M. That would include design work, demolition, construction and fitting out. Above the theater are several floors of dorm rooms for Suffolk Univ. students. That’s the reason that the ceiling in the new theater is much lower than that of the original Modern. The entrance to the dorm floors is through a Suffolk Univ. building on West Street to the north of the site.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

The new Modern has a foyer which is much larger than the tiny vestibule in the old Modern. The foyer doubles as an exhibit gallery. One neat feature is that there is a walkway in the arch of the facade. The arch is filled with glass. You can walk up there from the foyer and stand right in the arch looking down at Washington Street. It’s a clever idea. The foyer is bright and airy. On the walls are some old decorative elements from the first Modern Theatre with little labels describing them. Plus a few old photos.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 6, 2010 at 1:39 pm

The architect firm which did the design work on the new building is CBT of Boston. I also attended the Open House on Fri Nov 5; there certainly were far more people present than at the Open House in Sept at the nearby Paramount Center, an event which seemed to be Top Secret. I was told that there were about 5 different modes for the auditorium. When I was there it was in conference/banquet mode, with a flat floor which was even with the stage floor. However, the floor can be raked so that its front is below the apron of the stage. The balcony has 2 rows of seating, with side slips which each have one row. The side slips are supported by a column at the stage-end. At the rear of the balcony, not centered, is a glassed-in control booth for lighting, and I presume for sound. They don’t really need sound amplification in such a tiny space. There is a rectangular proscenium arch, and an attempt to decorate in the style of the old Modern. I liked this little theater.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 6, 2010 at 7:13 am

Restored Modern Theater Finally Opens Its Doors, an article in Suffolk University’s student newspaper.

“As one enters the actual theater they see a limited number of seats in front of the stage, but this is actually one of the unique designs of the Modern where there are actually five different arrangements in the theater that will change depending on the performance being held. Each time you enter the theater you will never know what arrangement you will get, but in all instances you will be face to face with the talented actors on stage.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Today I was able to go upstairs to the balcony. There are two raked rows of 14 seats each, plus 4 movable chairs behind the back row, and nine movable chairs on each of the right and left side overhangs, for a total of 50 seats.

They told me that the flat orchestra-level floor can be converted to several rows of raked seating, but I don’t know how many rows, or how many seats in each row.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

And WBUR’s coverage is here, including a nice shot of the interior and its stage curtain.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I visited the new Modern today for a Ford Hall Forum event. It looks beautiful inside, though much of the interior decoration is on wallpaper that is painted to look as if it were 3-dimensional Victorian-era detail.

There were five rows of movable chairs on a flat (unraked) floor, each row having 11 chairs. Behind this is a raked mezzanine with four rows of 14 fixed seats. The balcony was not open today, but since the total seat count is 185, this leaves 74 seats in the balcony.

Unfortunately, the projection booth is equipped only for digital, not for real 35mm or 16mm film. I am concerned that this will limit the picture quality and selection of films that they can show.

If you attend the open house tomorrow, they will give you a tour of the backstage area.

Today’s Boston Globe has a front-page article: Modern Theatre brought up-to-date

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm

As mentioned above, when the old Modern/ Mayflower Theatre was demolished in the spring of 2009, the distinctive facade was carefully dismantled, set aside, cleaned up and then re-erected to front this new building. It’s in the exact location of the original. Someone who has not visited Boston in two years or more would think that it is the original building. The arch in the facade is now open as it was when the first Modern Theatre was new. For many years, the arch has been covered over and stuccoed. It looks great!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 3, 2010 at 8:56 pm

The earlier Modern Theatre, which was open from 1914 to 1981 and was demolished in 2009, has its own CinemaTreasures page. Please use that page for any discussion of the previous Modern Theatre.