Don't have enough drama in your life. Well, good for you. We have plenty. But that doesn't stop us from enjoying live theater around the city as often as possible.
If you'd like to do the same, here are 10 theater venues/companies you need to keep on your radar throughout the Fall season and beyond.
Actors Theatre of Indiana
- When Actors Theatre of Indiana was asked to produce the opening performance at The District Theatre, they jumped at the chance says ATI Executive Director James Reilly. The performance chosen for the venue was Forbidden Broadway, a sendup of some of the better-known Broadway performances. But Broadway performances are what ATI is known for (their motto isn’t Broadway in Your Backyard! for nothing) and there’s a buttload coming your way this fall season, from their home base at Studio Theatre at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
Beef and Boards
- Indy’s longest running dinner theater venue, Beef and Boards serves up great meals and great productions of new and classic theatrical productions. This fall, they have everything from Man of La Mancha to Elf on the schedule, plus the perineal favorite Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. This a great date or family night destination for dinner and a great show. Check the schedule often.
- The Cat is a theater venue almost literally in the shadow of the much larger Center for Performing Arts in Carmel. But, it plays a much larger role in the central Indiana arts scene than its small size might suggest. It is home to Carmel Apprentice Theatre, Carmel Theatre Company, Amalgamated Stage Productions, Improbably Theatre Company, Approxima Theatre Company, Magic Thread Cabaret, Indiana Theatre Company, Fearless Productions, and Carmel Community Players.
- Bryan Fonseca left his position as producing director at the Phoenix Theatre at the end of May but it didn’t take him too long to land on his feet. Three weeks later he had formed River West Theater (recently renamed Fonseca Theater Company). Building the Wall by Robert Schenkkan, which aims a lens on the consequences of the Trump administration's anti-immigration policies, will be Fonseca’s first performance. It opens Sept. 14. The first two plays of its inaugural season will be performed at Indy Convergence. Come January 2019, the theater will move into a permanent storefront space on Michigan Street.
Indiana Repertory Theatre
- The IRT gets a bad rap at times having for staid performances that don’t stray too far from the beaten path. And while it’s true that they do tend towards the traditional—the upcoming season includes The Diary of Anne Frank, You Can’t Take it With You, and A Doll’s House—those classics are usually impeccably performed and worth repeat stagings. Looking at the fall schedule it’s clear there are some riskier productions on tap, as well, including Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau, which deals with issues of race, class, and money.
- There’s no point in trying to list all the performances and activities that the IndyFringe organization has been involved with. The annual IndyFringe Fest, now in its 14th year, is just for starters. There’s also DivaFest, an annual Fringe-organized series that develops and highlights the work of female playwrights. IndyFringe is also partners in numerous other activities including partnering with Asante Children’s Theatre to produce Dear Bobby the Musical highlighting Bobby Kennedy’s important speech in Indy on the night of MLK’s assassination.
- Being slapped with a pork chop is, apparently, a possibility in Dinner: A Romance in Four Courses, which is a collaboration between NoExit Performance and the restaurant Mesh on Mass Ave, complete with wine pairings and four course dinner. This out of the black box performance, as it were, took place in February of this year. It is indicative of NoExit’s unconventional approach to theater. Upcoming in September (location and times to be announced), is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea involving dancing, music, and puppetry.
- Unlike, say, the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel with its anodyne, postmodern facade, the new Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre might be described as aggressively functional. The exterior facade is composed largely of exposed concrete, as is much of the interior. The unadorned quality of the building, designed by Ratio Architects, mirrors the Phoenix’s reputation for edgy performance. And the theatre spaces are larger than in the old venue, but not so large that you lose the intimacy. Let’s hope that the selection of performances matches the new venue.
- On our to-do list is a visit to the Storefront Theatre’s next performance, which will be relocating come wintertime to the basement space of the now-vacated Crackers comedy venues at 6283 N. College St. This new nonprofit professional theater company, currently based in Downtown Indy, is focused on work by underrepresented playwrights. These guys are trying to emulate the provocative style of Chicago storefront theaters. Kudos to them.
- By all accounts, Summit Performance’s inaugural performance in the Phoenix’s black box theatre, Silent Sky, was a knockout. It’s a production about a female astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt who did not get her due during her life, produced by a female production company. Summit’s fall performance schedule wasn’t available by deadline, but we’re hoping that Silent Sky is a good leading indicator of what’s to come.