Group plans to re-open Modjeska Theatre in November

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:39 am

The Modjeska Theatre Project LLC, which owns the Modjeska Theatre at 1124 W. Historic Mitchell St. on Milwaukee’s south side, plans to reopen the 90-year-old theater in November.


The Modjeska Theatre has been closed for about four years.

Larry Widen was recently named executive director of the theater. Previously, he operated the Times Cinema in Milwaukee and the Rosebud Cinema in Wauwatosa from 2006-12.

“I’m excited about the opportunities before us with the Modjeska,” Widen said. “We want to be the destination for eclectic, creative and multi-cultural entertainment. The Modjeska is there for everyone and the programming will reflect that. We want the theater to become the provider of music, film and other events to a wide variety of tastes and cultures.”

The theater’s initial programming will include movies, comedy acts, plays, performances by local bands and lucha libre (Mexican wrestling, similar to American professional wrestling).

“(Lucha libre) is lots of fun,” Widen said. “It appeals to the neighbors. One of my goals is to embrace all of the cultures that live around the theater.”

Most of the work that needs to be done to re-open the theater involves building clean-up, Widen said.

“We have to get the theater fit for human habitation,” he said. “The goal right now is to get the theater cleaned and make sure it is all up to code.”

Also joining the Modjeska board is Rob Meiksins, who will act as a consultant to the theater’s fund development effort. Meiksins will also serve on the board of the Friends of the Modjeska, a philanthropic group raising money for ongoing operational costs. Meiksins started out in professional theater in New York City, later moving to Milwaukee to work with the Milwaukee Rep as the dramaturg.

The Modjeska Theatre Project LLC is operated by the not-for-profit group Mitchell Street Development Opportunities Corp. Governing board members include John S. Kesselman, commercial property broker; Herbert M. Hillman, CPA and Mitchell Street property owner and manager; Jesus Enrique Nanez, owner of DropZone, a web and print design firm; Robert Sheehy, design and construction management consultant; and Thomas Vavra, owner of Vavra Design LLC, an architectural design and planning firm.

Additional candidates for the board are currently being considered.

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