Student Union partners with the Waltham Embassy Theater
The historic Waltham cinema has been given another chance— and Brandeis’ Student Union hopes to help keep it alive.
After facing closure in Sept. 2022, the Embassy Theater, located at 16 Pine St. in Waltham, reopened its doors on Oct. 13, 2023. The Brandeis Student Union has joined forces with Tim Nasson, executive director of the theater, to breathe new life into the cultural landmark.
The Embassy Theater served as a community cornerstone beginning in 1998 until its closure. The cinema experienced financial challenges exacerbated by diminished ticket sales in the aftermath of the pandemic. Now the theater has reopened with a different vision while maintaining its legacy.
The building is now under the ownership of Smaranda Albeck, the executive director of Boston Rhythmic. According to the Boston Rhythmic website, four of the six screening rooms are in the process of being turned into activity rooms that will allow for rhythmic gymnastics and classes like aerial arts, zumba, and arts and STEM related programs. The other two rooms will continue serving their purpose as screening rooms.
Nasson learned of Albeck's hope to find space in the Boston Globe, and thought that he could be of assistance.
“I came along and showed [Albeck] what the possibilities could be,” Nasson said in a Dec. 2 interview with the Justice. “We talked about it and I looked at all the numbers that the theater did over the 30 years they were in business. We realized that it could work and it would benefit the community and I wanted some way to help the students at Brandeis too.”
Nasson has been in the movie business for over 30 years. His passion for film began at the age of 14 when he would take the MBTA Orange Line from Somerville to Back Bay just to see movies in Copley Place Cinema. Nasson began working there at the age of 15 and recalled the theater had early screenings of movies for theater owners and critics — which he would sneak into while on shift.
“I would sneak into them and I got to know all of the theater owners,” Nasson remembered.
At 17, Nasson got on the press list, exposing him to his first press screenings. Now 52, he has been going ever since. While in the movie industry, Nasson has interviewed over 1,000 A-list celebrities. His first was with Julia Roberts in 1988, before she was a big name, for his high school newspaper. Nasson has also interviewed Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, and Billy Porter for large publications like The Windy City Times, The Bay Area Reporter, and Boston Globe Media Partners. Nasson's collection of autographed stills that he had collected from interviewing celebrities adorn the walls of the Embassy Theater.
“The goal was to hang them up everywhere, but I'm just afraid people are going to steal them. So for now they're behind the counter,” said Nasson. “I'm going to put some more up there and we'll be adding some movie style artwork to the walls before Christmas.”
The theater re-welcomed theatergoers on Oct. 13, with the showing of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”
About a month after the theater’s re-opening, a Nov. 14 Instagram post by the Brandeis Student Union announced that Student Union had formed a partnership with the Embassy Theater.
“I hope that this is the start of more Brandeis students getting involved in the local Waltham community,” Student Union president Noah Risley ’24 said in a Dec. 1 interview with the Justice. “We as Brandeis students get to benefit a lot from the Waltham community, and this is a small way we can give back by giving our patronage to this independent theater.”
This partnership is the second the Student Union has formed this semester. In September, the Student Union and Kung Fu Tea on Moody St. began a partnership, giving Brandeis students 10% off when a student ID is shown. Similarly, any Brandeis student that presents their student ID will have two reduced priced options: either a $10 ticket or $20 for a ticket, a small popcorn, and a choice of candy.
“To make the whole movie theater experience much more financially and location wise more accessible for students is something that I'm really happy to be able to bring to the Brandeis community,” Lexi Lazar ’24, Student Union chief of staff, said during a Dec. 1 interview with the Justice. “We only started doing partnerships this year, though. So the fact that we already have two within a semester, I think, is really exciting.”
Nasson and the Student Union hope that the partnership lasts for as long as possible.
“Hopefully for as long as Brandeis and the embassy are both around,” Lazar said. Nasson shared similar sentiments: “Forever. As long as they want it.”
Both Lazar and Risley are seniors this year, meaning they won't be there to ensure the partnership continues after their graduation. They plan to connect future Student Union leaders and off-campus partners to continue the partnership after they both graduate.
“Something that's really important to me as president and Lexi, the chief of staff, and anyone involved in the Student Union this year, is building connections, either starting them, maintaining them or strengthening them,” said Risley. “We know that these are partnerships that will have really great longevity, which is really what matters,” Lazar added.
As the curtains rise on this new chapter for the Embassy Theater, Brandeis students can look forward to a new Waltham attraction to visit.