Molly Carl

Head Copy Editor

Lancaster City is home to a plethora of attractions to fit just about any taste or preference. The oddities and eccentricities it provides make for an interesting outing, no matter what you choose. There are restaurants and pups galore for those looking for a culinary experience, with art galleries and theatres to add a cultural twist to any night. One such theatre is the Zoetopolis Art House and Theatre.

The Zoetropolis Art House and Theatre, located at 315 W. James St., has quite a story behind it. While she has only been in existence for 18 years, she’s already acquired a rather impressive backstory.

Opened in 1996 by Leigh Lindsay with the help of Scott Miller, the original Zoetropolis was located on Lemon St. She was open for six years before Lindsay had to close the door due to personal reasons.

Her doors remained closed for 11 years until Lindsay joined forces with Karen Roberts, an OB/GYN who came to Lancaster just as the original Zoetropolis was closing her doors. Roberts, who had been “dogging Leigh for years… [to] let me help give birth to the new Zoe” had her dream come true in April 2013 when the Zoetropolis re-opened her doors at the new location. Roberts, a self-proclaimed “robotic surgeon and cinematic impresario” says that her mission through the Zoetropolis is “to show films that [are] not seen anywhere else in Lancaster, and support local artists and filmmakers.” While admittedly it can be a hectic lifestyle, Roberts says that it’s all worth it because “I am meeting amazing people.”

Zoetropolis is a locally owned, state of the art independent movie theatre / art house and event space in Lancaster City.
Zoetropolis is a locally owned, state of the art independent movie theatre, art house and event space in Lancaster City.

Along with the co-owners, Lindsay and Roberts, the staff consists of three dedicated individuals, Fen Alankus, Liam Roper and Alex Whitlatch who, like her owners, care deeply for the Zoetropolis.

Fen Alankus is a Millersville University alum who majored in Communications and proceeded to the New York Film Academy to study Basic Filmmaking.

“I chose [Communications] because I think if humans learned how to communicate better it would solve a lot of our problems,” said Alankus. “To me, nothing is more powerful than the right story told at just the right time. That’s why I think Zoetropolis is so unbelievably important! It’s a place for stories to be heard and told.”

Liam Roper is a high school student who was fortunate enough to get himself a job with the Zoetropolis. He loves the atmosphere and the incredible opportunities offered to him through the theatre.

Alex Whitlatch is a native Lancasterian who was a long-time patron of the Zoetropolis when she first opened. While he works as a nurse in a dementia unit and at schools for children with special needs, he spends his free time “trying to make Zoetropolis theatre even more awesome.”

The Zoetropolis theatre plays primarily independent movies and foreign films, often with documentaries thrown into the mix. During the theatre’s hiatus, Roberts asserted, “I had to satisfy my Indie films fix with tips to Sundance, Point of View and Harrisburg.”

The next time you find yourself with a free night and a sense of adventure, the Zoetropolis will be right there on James St. waiting for you. With ticket prices cheaper than Regal Cinema or Penn Cinema, and an unparalleled atmosphere with couches and recliners in place of traditional seating, Zoetropolis should be next on your list for a fun night out.