High Street Arts Center, Moorpark

#359 of 769 in Nightlife in California
Performance · Concert / Show
The High Street Arts Center has had a long and rich history as a source of culture and entertainment for the residents of Moorpark. In its early incarnation, the El Rancho, located at 45 East High Street in Moorpark, California, was built in 1927 to replace an old wooden structure that housed a silent movie theater. The El Rancho had the distinction of being the only "talking movie" theater in the east end of Ventura County. Sometimes referred to as the Moorpark Theatre, it closed as a movie house in the 1950´s and was used for school and community productions. It had many incarnations, even being used as a junk shop. It eventually re-opened as a live event theater in 1983, as the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Co., and changed ownership several times. The theater enjoyed limited success before it went bankrupt in 1999.

In 2001 Larry Janss, whose father and grandfather developed much of Westwood and the San Fernando Valley, bought the building with the intent of creating a new cultural center for Moorpark. He revamped the theater inside and out, putting in lighting and sound equipment, a new concession area, a retractable movie screen, new plumbing and electrical systems, and a new marquee. After a light-hearted competition, the theater was renamed the High Street Theater, and was transformed into a vibrant venue for classic film, live concerts and plays. The auditorium seating even featured wooden shelves, as it did in the 20s, allowing patrons to bring food and drinks purchased in the lobby into the auditorium. While the renovations were awesome, the cost of these upgrades were more than initially anticipated. Mr. Janss began to look at buyers for the property. Having put so much effort into creating a theater, he hoped to sell the property to someone who would continue using the property as such.

In August of 2005 the City Council of Moorpark came to an agreement with Larry Janss, and voted to purchase the theater. After several rentals to local theater production companies, the city, via the Redevelopment Agency, embarked on a new venture: creating a Cultural Arts Center for the Moorpark community. The city has great plans for the redevelopment of High Street, and sees the institution of a Cultural Arts Center as an important step in that goal. As residents and visitors discover the jewel of the High Street Arts Center, they also discover the wonderful restaurants and shops that reside along High Street as well.
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High Street Arts Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
25 reviews
  • Small antique theater but very good acoustics. Street parking only. They have a nice snack bar and serve beer and wine.  more »
  • We have attended several performances at this theater. We love the atmosphere. You feel like you've gone back in time.  more »
  • I've seen some cool plays here. I like the fact that they have kept its history and its heritage intact. The theater is spacious and the seats are comfy. There's always a good play being shown here. Its a fun place to go for some entertainment. Its the anchor of high street.
  • What a gem to have right in my backyard! I love that this theater doesn't shy away from large scale productions. The theater itself is beautiful and it adds a lot of charm to the experience!

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