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I see a lot of shows over the course of a year. Between shows I work, volunteer for, direct, produce, or that I’m in, my live performance calendar can blow up pretty darn quickly! That said, I’m often asked what I’m seeing next or what I plan to see in the Indianapolis area (sometimes even outside in Chicago or Cincy since I’m so close!). Well, fear not; I’m going to introduce you to hidden gems that may not be on the mainstream Indianapolis radar. And some of the bigger ones, too – I can’t leave them out.
Indianapolis is teeming with hidden artistic gems. These performances are often held in small venues tucked away from the bustling tourist attractions, so they can be easy to miss. These smaller companies house some of the most innovative and thought-provoking performances you will find in the city. There’s a certain charm to these performances—they offer a more intimate and personalized experience compared to some mainstream shows. You get an up-close view of the performers, and these performances often tackle unique themes and present them in innovative ways, making each show a memorable experience.
Here’s some of what I’m looking forward to this year onstage in Indianapolis!
- To Kill a Mockingbird at Clowes Memorial Hall: The play, which is based on Harper Lee’s novel, is directed by Bartlett Sher. Richard Thomas, an Emmy Award-winning actor, will play the role of Atticus Finch in the touring production coming to Clowes. I’ve read the book and seen this show a handful of times over the years. However, this is the Aaron Sorkin adaptation, so I’m excited to see what’s different.
- Yardbird by Indianapolis Opera: Yardbird is the story of the jazz musician Charlie Parker. Produced by the Indianapolis Opera, it features Angela Brown, a local opera singer. The piece explores Parker’s last attempt at creating a masterpiece following the opioid epidemic and racial injustice during the 1950s. And it is only happening for ONE NIGHT at the Madam Walker Theatre Centre.
- Disney Princess – The Concert: A little bit more of a grown-up Disney evening at Clowes Memorial Hall. Featuring some of Broadway’s Disney princesses singing the songs we all know and love from our favorite films!
- The Simon & Garfunkel Story at Old National Centre: For all the folk music fans out there, this is one you have to add to your list! The Simon & Garfunkel Story follows the story of two young men from Queens who eventually became the famous musicians we all know. The show is an immersive concert experience that tells the story of Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon, chronicling their rise to fame and their tragic split in 1970. It culminates with their Concert in Central Park, which was held in 1981 and brought together over half a million fans.
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Beef & Boards: I love this show! I sat in the front row for it with the original cast on Broadway almost ten years ago (GULP), and it was so much fun. One of the few remaining professional dinner theaters in the country, Beef & Boards, is presenting this popular bio-musical chock full of Carole King’s hit songs.
- Hadestown at Clowes Memorial Hall: This touring show is probably the Broadway in Indianapolis show I’m most excited about this season! I see a lot of shows in NYC, too, but I still haven’t made it to this one! Hadestown features the stories of Eurydice and Orpheus, as well as that of King Hades and his beautiful wife, Persephone. It is a haunting and hopeful tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
- Pretty much the entirety of the season at The Cabaret: Gavin Creel, J. Harrison Ghee, Cheyenne Jackson, Eric McCormick, and Laura Bell Bundy – like what?! That’s a killer season of Broadway and TV talent! They do sell out early, but it’s easy to see why once you go to a show. A night of Jazz Kitchen food, drinks, and first-class entertainment is always flawless.
- South Pacific: In Concert with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: The ISO, the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus, and Maestro Everly will perform some of the best songs and moments from South Pacific, a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical that is considered to be one of the most popular of all time. This is a classic that I can’t wait to hear performed by the ISO!
- Little Shop of Horrors at Indiana Repertory Theatre: I think the last full musical I saw at IRT was in like 2011 or 2012, and I think it was A Little Night Music, so needless to say, THIS is exciting! If you aren’t familiar with the Little Shop of Horrors story, you should be! I can’t wait to see how the carnivorous Audrey II turns out! 🙂
- Forbidden Broadway with Actors Theatre of Indiana: If you love Broadway musicals, this is the perfect show! This review takes many of Broadway’s most popular songs and turns them into this satirical evening of fun. So many inside theatre jokes, but just a whole lot of fun.
- Ship of Dreams at IndyFringe: Local theatre artist Paige Scott expands her 2022 Fringe Festival hit performance into a full-blown show. In it, eight friends attempt to create a stage production using cheap equipment and cardboard. If you love the movie Titanic, this is a farce you can’t miss! I missed this in its Fringe run because I was always at another venue working, so I plan to get to it this time!
- A Little Night Music by Indianapolis Opera: One of Stephen Sondheim’s most popular shows is A Little Night Music, and the interest in his musical theater works has been growing following his death in 2021. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Indianapolis Opera, IO is presenting this chamber musical onstage at The Toby this spring!
- Muppet Mania by the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus: If you haven’t seen a show by the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus, you’re missing out! They are ALWAYS fun, and they always have a great theme! So, needless to say, a show based on The Muppets? Yeah, I’m gonna do my best to be there!
- And I Will Follow at Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre: Local Indianapolis playwright Bennett Ayres’ And I Will Follow will be presented by the Phoenix Theatre in March. It’s a one-man true crime story that explores themes of love, resilience, and identity, performed by Indy stage legend Mark Goetzinger!
- The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends by Discovering Broadway: If you aren’t familiar with Discovering Broadway, they workshop new musicals here in Indianapolis, and they often bring in talent from NYC and elsewhere to build and craft these shows in residence. Then, we get to see the first performances! So for their next one – Madison, Stella, and Grace have been planning their senior prom since kindergarten, and the most important aspect of their event is finding the perfect date. Everyone needs a date for the prom, and the girls have found their dream dates, but they might just be a little bit dead. When their perfect dates turn out to be incredibly hideous, will the girls be able to salvage their friendship at the prom?
Honorable mentions to Dancing with the Stars LIVE, Margaret Cho, and The Music of the Beatles: A Symphonic Experience with the ISO. And, the majority of these ALLLLLL happen before I depart for the summer!
Guys, our show season in Indy this year is packed with some VERY exciting things. This doesn’t even include any of the youth theaters in the area that often do some really great work! SO GO SEE SOME SHOWS! Every time you turn up for a show and buy a ticket, or share someone’s show with someone else, you’re doing a great service to the Indy theatre community simply because a lot of people don’t realize just how vibrant it is!
Get going and see some new spectacular performances in an Indianapolis venue this spring!
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS: What shows are you planning on seeing this year? Anything on your radar?