SENATOR Theatre Closes Tonight for Renovations

Senator Theatre marquee - 2012, Apr 3: some lights finally relit

Senator Theatre, April 2012

According to a post on the Senator’s official Facebook page the theatre will close tonight (Thursday, April 26, 2012) after the scheduled viewings of The Hunger Games. It’s said the closing is required to move forward with their renovation plans that will add three screening auditoriums to the north and south sides of the original historic building as well as a wine bar.

Those interested in details should visit the theatre’s commerical site to see the city approved floorplan and two thumbnail renderings of the completed project via the “Renovations Blog” link:

You can also read the most recent article about the plans:

And an “Update From The Senator Theatre” Facebook Note also provides some details:

According to an administrator’s comment posted on their Facebook page, the project is expected to take 6-9 months to complete.

Update: Just after posting the following article was brought to our attention, in which The Senator is described as “a very sad theatre” by renter/operator James “Buzz” Cusack and “a complicated deal with many layers of financing” by M.J. “Jay” Brodie of the BDC.


December sees classic films return to The Senator Theatre!

Three films from 1939, “The Year of The Senator”:

Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington & The Wizard of Oz @ The Senator in December

Tickets available now: Click the image, on the next page click Movie Quick Link

Tickets on sale now at


a seasonal favorite returns…

Saturdays, December 17th and 24th only
@ 10am:
Frank Capra’s
It’s A Wonderful Life
James Stewart, Donna Reed & Lionel Barrymore

Jimmy Stewart in Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life"
Admission: $5 worth of canned goods at the door, to benefit GEDCO Cares

The SENATOR Theatre: Ring In The Holidays! Food Drive & Free Movie Returns

As reported by Baltimore Messenger’s, Larry Perl and now confirmed on the new SENATOR Theatre site,
a 19 year holiday tradition will continue this year at the theatre.

We are happy to report the 20th

The GEDCO CARES Food Pantry
holiday food drive
free screenings of
Frank Capra’s Heart-Warming 1946 Masterpiece

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

(1946 – 130min)

Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed,
Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell,
Henry Travers & Beulah Bondi

Saturday, December 18th
Sunday, December 19th

Christmas Eve, December 24th
10:00 am

An angel helps a compassionate but despairing,
frustrated businessman by showing what life would
have been like if he never existed.


71 Years Ago Today The Senator Theatre Opened Its Doors

On October 5, 1939 Baltimore’s “Theatre of Distinction” opened to the public with exhibition of “Stanley and Livingstone“, starring Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly and Richard Greene.

SENATOR Theatre: Standing Ovations Salute Kiefaber on His Last Night

TK 8pm standing ovation

Kiefaber receives extended standing ovation standing-room-only crowd

Both the near capacity crowd for the 4:30pm screening of Star Wars: A New Hope and the standing-room only 8pm show saluted former owner Tom Kiefaber for his family’s 71 years of operation and his personal dedication to keeping the historic theatre going for over two decades.

The evening also capped off a Friends of The Senator volunteers’ 16-month stint as Kiefaber’s theatre support staff.

Judging by the crowd reaction during and after the screenings all felt that this chapter was being closed on a positive note with “A New Hope” for the future of the landmark theatre.

Here’s to hoping the lights are back on and the doors open in short order, because knowing the theatre was going dark at the end was a concern repeated by many attendees on an otherwise celebratory night.

More photographs: (John Waire)

SENATOR Theatre: FREE Farewell to Kiefaber screenings of rare STAR WARS (1977) print on July 21

“This is it!” – Red Leader, Star Wars

STAR WARS Style A half-sheet by Tom Jung

STAR WARS Style A half-sheet by Tom Jung (1977)

The Force Is With Them!

Baltimore’s Senator Theatre Ends 71 Years of Continuous
Family Ownership and Operation.

“Friends of The Senator” Express A New Hope for a Rapid Reopening

Baltimore, MD
July 21, 2010

The Friends of The Senator (FOTS) theatre advocacy group announced today
that Wednesday 7/21 marks the final day of operation for Baltimore’s historic
Senator Theatre. The shutdown date was designated by Baltimore’s City Hall.
Instructions are to cease operations, and for the theatre’s ex-owner to remove
all personal items. Baltimore City took ownership of the renowned, single screen
Art Deco landmark at a foreclosure auction in July of 2009.

For the final evening of operation, the FOTS are encouraging patrons to join
us for a gathering of The Senator’s extended family, including long time
manager Gayle Grove and The Senator’s popular border collie staff, Natty Boh
and Nipper.

The evening will feature two free celebratory screenings of a rare 1977 British
I.B. Technicolor print of “Star Wars: A New Hope” from a private collection.
Free screenings of the two hour feature will be at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Doors
open at 4:00 pm for the 4:30 show.

“We wanted to do something really special for the last film to be shown at
The Senator, to honor Tom Kiefaber and his family, as well as The Senator’s
long term staff,” said FOTS President Tom Harris, who has camped on the
sidewalk at The Senator for past Star Wars midnight openings with his family.
“A film collector approached us about this rare original release print of Star
Wars, and the film is such a touchstone for so many of us, we went for it.”

“This is where I came in,” said Tom Kiefaber, in reference to Star Wars in 1977.
“I grew up in The Senator, and I officially joined the family business in 1977, just
as Star Wars was about to change the film industry forever. The saying ‘this
is where I came in’ comes from my youth, when the theatres ran short subjects,
newsreels, and features continuously. We would often arrive in the middle of a
show and stay until it was starting the repeat, noting this is where I came in.”
Also popular in those days were the weekly “cliffhanger” serials where a
young George Lucas found inspiration for “Star Wars.”

“With The Senator going dark for an indefinite time, we all feel a great
disturbance in the Force,” said FOTS Managing Director Laura Perkins.
“Kathleen Cusack from the new management team predicts The Senator may
only stay dark a few days, and we hope the Cusack team understands
the importance of the theatre to this community and reopens The Senator as
quickly as possible.”

“We have many concerns about what’s in store for The Senator, particularly
plans to demolish original features that define the character of the building’s
interior,” noted Kiefaber, “but we have no choice but to accept as graciously
as possible that the force is with them.”

* * *

SENATOR Theatre RFP: City Changes Mind – Kiefaber & Crew Can Stay Until July 21

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, City officials have backed off the recent, sudden announcement to force Tom Kiefaber and his volunteer staff out of The Senator this Sunday (July 27, 2010).

While most media outlets painted Kiefaber’s outrage at the abrupt directive to leave as some sort of grandstanding, he was not alone in his calls of outrage to the idea that he should be ousted from the theatre so that the new tenants, Buzz and Kathleen Cusack could move in, even before the citizens of Baltimore City would know anything about the terms of the lease!

Given that the City of Baltimore won the property at auction last summer, each and every citizen has a stake in the future of The Senator (truly now The People’s Theatre in more than just name) and has the right to express their opinions and concerns regarding its future, especially if even more taxpayer funds are being considered!

Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Starts Wed @ 12:01AM (doors open @ 11:30PM Tuesday) Click the image to get advance tickets now!

Now, with the extension given, Kiefaber and crew can honor their commitment to events that had already been scheduled to take place beyond this Sunday (after all, the City did ask him to keep The Senator alive while the RFP process completed), including the opening of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, perhaps the summer’s most anticipated blockbuster film, which begins at The Senator with a midnight show (12:01AM) this Wednesday! Doors will open at 11:30PM Tuesday night and advance tickets are on sale at!
“Regular” showings of Eclipse are now listed on The Senator’s web site – tickets will be $8 (cash only) at the door.

At The SENATOR: Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (1927) with 25 minutes of newly restored footage!

Think you’ve seen METROPOLIS? Think again.

METROPOLIS at The Senator!


After a nearly complete 16mm print was found in Buenos Aires, not only was there 25 minutes of previously “lost” footage (not seen since the film’s opening in Berlin) that fills major gaps in the story’s plot lines, but also revealed the film’s original editing order.

Now, you can experience “The Complete METROPOLIS”, newly restored, at Baltimore, Maryland’s historic SENATOR Theatre, but don’t wait, it’s only here for 1 week!

$8 Admission (cash only, please)

Click here for showtimes

SENATOR Theatre: Animal Collective’s ODDSAC coming!

A true physical experience, ODDSAC turns the theatre into a sensory submarine.

Join Friends of The SENATOR and Fortunes5Fifty  for the Baltimore Premiere of


A Film By

Animal Collective

Director/Writer: Danny Perez


Josh Dibb, Noah Lennox, David Portner, Brian Weitz

ODDSAC is a feature film collaboration between the band Animal Collective and filmmaker Danny Perez that was co-conceived by and stars Animal Collective, whose 2009 album “Merriweather Post Pavilion” was named album of the year by SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, and Pitchfork, and topped critic’s end of year lists worldwide. ODDSAC is a dense and surreal layering of audio and visual elements that eschews conventional narrative to create a visceral, immersive experience.

ODDSAC features an original score with new songs from the band and complex digital manipulation by Perez, a debut filmmaker and visual artist known for his concert projections with musicians such as Black Dice and Panda Bear. ODDSAC represents a new synthesis of music and film, a “visual album” whose songs will not be released in any other form. ODDSAC is the result of over four years of intense collaboration between Perez and the band.

Interview with Anco & director Perez @ Cinemablend

Collaborators Animal Collective and Danny Perez have stretched their respective artistries into a compelling visual portrayal of music and mood
Angela Zimmerman, Crawdaddy Magazine

“Utterly captivating and well worth the hour-long ride for any fan that wants a peek into the band’s creative madness”
Mike Mineo, Obscure Sound via MOG Music Network

“Both playful and terrifying, ODDSAC feels like a natural extension of Animal Collective’s work
Katey Rich, Cinemablend

“I cannot wait to get my hands on this visual album so that I may enjoy it again and again”
–Angela H. Brown,

Tickets available online now

$15 (includes admission to after-party)

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 7:15 AM  Comments (1)  

SENATOR Theatre RFP: Public Meeting Results

Updated: Jan 8th, 7:50 am (1 new news link)

Tom Harris (a FoTS Ambassador) shares some brief comments on last night’s meeting (feel free to add your own!), below. And, as promised, here is the list of representatives on the BDC’s Advisory Panel (and contact links if we can find them), so everyone can contact them with their opinions and/or questions on the four proposals. Cast your vote in our new poll while you’re at it (scroll down & look to your right)!

BDC Advisory Panel members :

Laura Thul Penza (Senator Community Trust)

Catherine Evans (Belvedere Improvement Association)

Michele LeFaivre (Elsinore Village)

Karen DeKamp (York Road Partnership)

Rick Swanson (Govanstowne Business Assoc.)

Bill Gilmore (Baltimore Promotion & the Arts)

Carla Nelson (BDC and Mayor’s Office of Women & Minority Business Development)

Larry Jenkins (Baltimore City Law Dept.)

Karen Noonan (Theatre Historical Society of America)

Laura Perkins (Friends of The SENATOR)

Questions regarding the RFP process can be directed to
Kristen Mitchell
at the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) at

Proposal (Respondents):

The Lofts at The Senator (J.R. Owens Corporation)

Tom Harris (FoTS Ambassador): As stated at the Jan. 5th public meeting, he’s not interested in anything but saving the theatre and he believes that means building a mixture of apartments and retail space around the sides and back of the theatre to produce “new revenue streams”. Personally, I found the concept renderings detracted from the beauty of the theatre and frankly, as another attendee noted, this plan leaves out the heart of the matter and the theatre itself- what should go on inside the theatre.

The Senator Theatre, LLC (James & Kathleen Cusack)

T.Harris (FoTS): As much as I’ve loved seeing 1st run movies at The Senator and have dearly missed that, I cannot buy into the belief that, given the financial realities and contracts involved with 1st run exhibition, the Cusack’s would fare better than Keifaber. For that matter, recent news stories have shown that even the multiplexes have not been doing well! My fear is that in a few years time, we’ll be revisiting the threat of The Senator closing. I wish it otherwise, but I think a more viable plan is called for.

The Theatre Project PUPKIDS, Inc. (Noch-Noch Productions)

Tom Harris (FoTS): In short, while a well intended mission and open-arms policy toward a multitude of programming make this a nice idea, I don’t believe this plan, alone, would support the theatre’s future. There was simply not sufficient evidence of theatre management, scheduling or financial expertise given at the presentation.

WTMD at The Senator (Senator Theatre Redevelopmentl, LLC – Towson University)

Tom Harris (FoTS): I believe this plan to be the best fit for The Senator’s future. It adopts the vision that has proven itself time & again in other historic theatres across the country. That of a nonprofit-owned, community-based, multipurpose arts, education & entertainment venue. The diversified programming would attract more than just movie-goers (yes movies, including the occasional 1st run are included!) to North Baltimore, exposing local businesses to a multitude of potential new clientele. The biggest problem I see is overcoming what some residents fear is a “college-town invasion”, but those who paid attention to the sampled daily programming would see that it caters to a much wider audience. That said, I want to know more about the intended “historically-sensitive renovations” and if they have financing firmly in place to undertake the task, as this was not convincingly answered during the public presentation Q & A.

Editor’s note: Mr. Harris is employed by TU (not by WTMD) and has had no input whatsoever in the WTMD/TU proposal.

Please feel free to comment!

News Links: