Indianapolis music and theater moves outdoors

Indianapolis music and theater moves outdoors

Outdoor venues will continue to grow in 2021.

Last year, art groups took to the fashion stages in just a few weeks when the coronavirus pandemic brought indoor entertainment to a standstill. Their efforts paid off – audiences grabbed tickets to events that allowed social distance, fresh air, and fun.

Now, armed with a year of planning, the venues that were new last year are returning with upgrades. And also for the first time more people are entering the outside area. Here you can find live music, plays, poetry, films, dance and art tours all summer long.

The Hi-Fi Annex stage was converted for a summer concert.

Live music and opera

Hi-Fi attachment

1044 St. Patrick St.

The Hi-Fi Appendix was born behind the Murphy Art Center in Fountain Square last year and improved its game in 2021. The shipping container that housed the stage last year is now a full bar, and a new full stage has emerged. The spring lineup includes the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and the Lost Dog Street Band.

  • Next Up: John Moreland with SG Goodman on Saturday
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

‘Madame Butterfly’

Bicentennial Pavilion at Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 W. Washington St.

The opera Giacomo Puccini lands near the butterflies of the Indianapolis Zoo. Singers Yulia Lysenko, Melody Wilson, Thomas Cannon, Hugo Vera and Joseph McBrayer will star.

  • When: May 14th, 15th, 16th
  • Find more information and buy tickets: Tickets must be purchased by March 12th.

Beer Creek

Black Circle Brewing Co., 2201 E. 46th St.

Named as a nod to Deer Creek, the original name of the Ruoff Music Center, Beer Creek has that backyard vibe that makes drinks taste even better. Look for live outdoor entertainment, especially in the evenings, as well as weekly events.


5565 N. Keystone Ave.

While the venue has limited capacity shows indoors, it also programs some outdoors. And the demand is obvious: this weekend’s Hyryder shows are already sold out. So buy tickets early for future shows. According to Kris Meyers of Umphrey’s McGee, expect a weekend of more outdoor entertainment on May 20th.

  • Next Up: Kick the cat with Kris Myers from Umphreys McGee on May 20th
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

The Playground at IndyFringe on Mass Ave has live music and more all summer.

The playground at IndyFringe

719 E. St Clair St.

Years before the pandemic, the Indy Eleven Theater had the opportunity to lift its hangar door and transform itself into an outdoor venue. The number of concerts has increased over the past year and films, jazz and Motown are now on the agenda.

  • Next Up: Motown and R&B with the IndyBluesRevue with Brenda Williams on May 29th
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

“Drive-in cinema”

Monon Square Shopping Center, 620 South Range Line Road in Carmel

Actor and singer Matt Branic will join the founders of the Actors Theater of Indiana, Cynthia Collins, Don Farrell and Judy Fitzgerald, in a concert honoring the Indy 500. That means music that makes travel stand out, 1960s surf music, “King of the Road” and more. It’s the first of the theater company’s three concerts that you can see from your car this summer.

  • Next Up: “Start Your Engines” on May 14th
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

The alley at the library square

Alley next to the Indianapolis Cabaret and Arts Council, 924 N. Pennsylvania St.

Jazz and spoken word performances, art, and cocktails get all the cooler when they’re in an alley with green spaces, murals, awnings, and seating. The project, which is a collaboration between The Cabaret, Arts Council and neighboring Buckingham Companies, was designed and built by artists Quincy Owens, Luke Crawley and Nicholas Douglas.

  • Next Up: July 9th grand opening with artists to be announced
  • Follow the announcements:

Mad Max Katz Art Park at Heiler

3631 E. Raymond St.

The interactive art space and venue on the southeast side, housed in a former medical billing office, is known for installing some of Indianapolis’ most cutting edge artwork in literal boxes – the office cubicles that used to work last year, the Mad Max Katz Art Park built and booked a summer full of shows where people can jam and look at two old RVs that they’ve turned into works of art.

Movies, plays and more

The Park on the Phoenix

705 N. Illinois St.

The redesigned parking lot stage at the Phoenix Theater Cultural Center takes advantage of the breathtaking downtown skyline from its vantage point on the Cultural Trail on Illinois Street. The summer schedule includes comedian Neel Nanda from Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Summer Stock Stage Youth Theater and “Godspell” from Eclipse Summer Stock Stage.

Keep an eye out later in the summer too. The theater will soon lay the foundation stone to build a smaller cabaret stage for The Patio right on the Glick Peace Walk part of the culture trail.

Park at the Phoenix transforms the theater's parking lot into an outdoor venue with a concession area and ticket office.

OutBack Theater in the alley

627 Massachusetts Ave.

The newly constructed venue is behind the District Theater and animates the alley between Mass Ave and Park Street. Look for stand-up comedy, poetry, movies, Shakespeare, jazz, off-Broadway cabaret singers, and more.

  • Next Up: “Listen to Your Mother” on May 16th and the movie “Before the Shadows Flee” from May 21st to 22nd with the legendary Indy Theater on Square director Ron Spencer, who died in 2020
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

The OutBack outdoor theater is located behind the District Theater on Mass Ave.

Kan-Kan outdoors

The playground at IndyFringe, 719 E. St Clair St.

The Kan-Kan Cinema and Brasserie, the new indie theater in Windsor Park, has not yet opened in person. But there’s plenty to showcase online and outdoors when the weather is kind. Check out the Wednesday film series at Pocket Park just off Mass Ave.

  • Next Up: “The watermelon woman” on May 12th
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

Fonseca Theater Co.

2508 W. Michigan St.

The theater was one of the first in the city to build a stage in its parking lot after the pandemic. A second outdoor season has now been announced to continue telling stories from the perspective of people of color. The first show is a world premiere.

  • Next Up: “Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry (you too, August Wilson),” which runs May 21-30
  • Find the full schedule and buy tickets:

‘Where we stand’

Allen Whitehill Clowes Amphitheater at Marian University, 3200 Cold Spring Road

Summit Performance Indianapolis, which focuses on telling women’s stories, will present a live staged reading from Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ “Where We Stand”. The piece with Manon Voice, directed by Dwandra Nickole Lampkin, is a poem about a woman who asks her town for forgiveness after making a deal with a good-speaking stranger who should benefit them – but has complications.

Meredith Nicholson's home at 1500 N. Delaware St. is on the Bookmark Indy Tour.

Art and culture trips and festivals

Bookmark Indy

Around Indianapolis

Take a literal walking tour of Indianapolis’ rich literary history, courtesy of Indiana Humanities, to see the places where writers Madelyn Pugh, Adrian Matejka, Kurt Vonnegut, Mari Evans, Booth Tarkington, and others lived. Visit their website to see videos of how the city’s buildings and landmarks inspired them.

Bashiri Asad will perform at Local Made.

Made on site

Indianapolis Art Center Art Park, 820 E. 67th St.

Given the pandemic, the Indianapolis Art Center was unable to hold the huge OneAmerica Broad Ripple Art Fair. Instead, a smaller festival is planned. Expect gigs – including Josh Kaufman, Gordon Bonham, and Rob Dixon – and of course visual artists. Spoken word artists and others will also perform on the premises. The traditional fair will return in 2022.

Opening of the Fort Ben Cultural Campus

8920 Otis Ave. in Lawrence

The theater in the fort has long been a powerhouse of creativity. Now his cultural energy is spreading across an entire campus. The grand opening will unveil a permanent series of musical swings that play tunes as people blow up. An amphitheater, additions to the theater, a visual arts center and a history walk are among the highlights of the new arts center.

Columbus exhibition

Downtown Columbus

The latest round of public art, inspired by Columbus’ famous architecture, will make for a great day out. Thirteen site-specific installations by architects, artists and designers artistically imagine the future of the center of the country and the regions connected by the Mississippi watershed.

Indy Arts Festival

Indy Auto Man, 3130 Madison Ave.

Local wall painters, graffiti artists, artists and more are the focus of this festival put together by Hue Murals and the Indy Auto Man dealership. During the day, artists will be painting 8 by 12 foot murals and cars. Expect chalk art, vendors, and live music while you enjoy food and drinks.

Are you looking for activities? Our newsletter features the best concerts, works of art, shows and more – and the stories behind them

Contact IndyStar reporter Domenica Bongiovanni at 317-444-7339 or [email protected] Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @domenicareports.