Indy after dark: Music and theater in the Circle City

Tina Baich


Downtown Indianapolis is renowned for its visitor amenities and walkability, so once you’ve attended conference sessions and meetings, it’s not too hard to find your next activity. Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail while listening to a local jazz ensemble or hear a classical masterpiece performed by a world-class orchestra, Indianapolis has the venue for you. If you prefer theater, you can see a Shakespearean comedy or a new work on Indianapolis stages. Below is a selection of events and venues to check out while in the Circle City.


As the conference approaches, you can find more events on the calendars of Indianapolis Downtown Inc.1 and the Arts Council of Indianapolis.2 If you’d like to take public transportation while in the city, visit www.IndyGo.net to plan your trips.

Downtown

Depending on where you are staying, most downtown venues are within walking distance, but public transit or cabs are also available.

  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse (125 South Pennsylvania Street, www.bankerslifefield-house.com/). Home of the the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the WBNA’s Indiana Fever, Bankers Life Field-house also hosts concerts of major recording artists and other special events. The Fieldhouse recently changed its name from Conseco to Bankers Life, so don’t be confused if the locals still call it Conseco.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse. All photos courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Indiana Repertory Theatre (140 W Washington Street, www.irtlive.com/). Founded in 1972, the Indiana Repertory Theatre is a professional regional theater that stages thousands of performances each year. ACRL 2013 coincides with the opening week of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Housed in the historic Indiana Theatre, attendees will be thrilled by the architecture, as well as the acting.
  • Indianapolis Artsgarden (110 West Washington Street, http://www.indyarts.org/artsgarden.aspx?p=1). The Indianapolis Artsgarden stands over the intersection of Washington and Illinois streets and connects Circle Center Mall and nearby hotels. Administered by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Artsgarden hosts more than 300 performances and art exhibitions each year. A unique feature of the Artsgarden is its free lunchtime performances.
  • Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (32 East Washington Street, www.indianapolissymphony.org/). The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra makes its home in the Hilbert Circle Theatre, another historic Indianapolis structure. Concertgoers will be delighted by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and pianist Dajan Lazić performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 3, April 12 and 13.

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. All photos courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Madame Walker Theatre Center (617 Indiana Avenue, www.walkertheatre.com/). The Madame Walker Theatre Center honors the legacy of its namesake by presenting programs and performing arts events with a focus on African American Culture. The building itself is also a National Historic Landmark. Author, commentator, and economist Julianne Malveaux will speak at the Madame Walker, April 13.
  • Slippery Noodle Inn (372 South Meridian Street, www.slipperynoodle.com/). Indiana’s self-proclaimed oldest bar is the home of the blues in Indianapolis. Live local, regional, and national blues acts perform every night of the week with two bands featured on Friday and Saturday nights. The Slippery Noodle Inn also has a full service menu.
  • Storytelling Arts of Indiana (www.storytellingarts.org/). If storytelling is more your cup of tea, you can see Kevin Kling, whose stories have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, April 13. The event will take place at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center (450 West Ohio Street), which is also the home of the Indiana Historical Society.

Massachusetts Avenue cultural district

While Massachusetts Avenue is in the downtown area, the walk is slightly longer from the downtown core. Cabs and public transit are easy options to reach the area. You can take the Route 17 bus from downtown to Massachusetts Avenue.

  • Old National Centre (502 North New Jersey Street, oldnationalcentre.com/). The Old National Centre is a professional performance venue featuring concerts by popular artists in the Murat Theatre and the more intimate Egyptian Room. The building is a unique and historic structure built in 1909.
  • IndyFringe Basile Theatre (719 East Saint Clair Street, http://indyfringe.org/) Home base of the annual IndyFringe Festival, the IndyFringe Basile Theatre is a 100-seat venue presenting avant-garde theater productions, spoke word performances, and art exhibitions.
  • The Phoenix Theatre (749 North Park Avenue, www.phoenixtheatre.org/). The Phoenix Theatre is a professional theater company known for presenting contemporary productions that frequently carry a social message. The Phoenix is currently holding an open slot in its schedule as it works to bring new, cutting-edge plays to Indianapolis next April. Check the Web site closer to the conference to see what gem they place in this TBA slot.
  • Theatre on the Square (627 Massachusetts Avenue, www.tots.org/). Located in the heart of Mass Ave., Theatre on the Square is a long-standing community theater in the city of Indianapolis. Its productions are typical new plays and musicals of the Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway variety. Blackpool & Parrish will be the play on offer during ACRL 2013.
  • Chatterbox Jazz Club (435 Massachusetts Avenue, www.chatterboxjazz.com/). If you like jazz, the Chatterbox is the place for you. It is an iconic bar featuring the best in local jazz and often surprise guests wanting to jam.
  • The Rathskeller (401 East Michigan Street, www.rathskeller.com/). Housed in the historic 19th-century Athenaeum Building, the Rathskeller is a restaurant/bar known for its German fare. Inside is cozy and warm, but if the beer garden is open, expect hours of fun with local bands and great German beer.

The Rathskeller Biergarten. All photos courtesy of Visit Indy.

Fountain Square

Fountain Square is another cultural district just southeast of Downtown Indianapolis. In addition to a number of restaurants, there’s a variety of fun activities, including duckpin bowling.


Fountain Square. All photos courtesy of Visit Indy.
  • Radio Radio (1119 East Prospect Street, www.futureshock.net/). Radio Radio is the venue for live music in Fountain Square. This bar features everything from bands to burlesque.
  • White Rabbit Cabaret (1116 East Prospect Street, www.whiterabbitcabaret.com/). The White Rabbit Cabaret is a hipster bar that frequently has live entertainment, including music, stand-up comedy, live-action sitcoms, and the “Burlesque Bingo Bango Show.”

Broad Ripple area

Though further afield, a cab or bus ride is well worth it to experience this vibrant, eclectic village within the city of Indianapolis. The Route 17 bus will take you from downtown to the Broad Ripple area, but the Route 28 bus will get you closest to Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University.

  • Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University (4600 Sunset Avenue, www.cloweshall.org/). Though not technically in Broad Ripple, Clowes Memorial Hall is close by. Clowes Hall is a performing arts facility located on the beautiful campus of Butler University. During ACRL 2013, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir will be performing at the hall, April 12. The program juxtaposes sacred works by contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen and Bach’s Magnificat.
  • Corner Wine Bar (6331 Guilford Avenue, www.cornerwinebar.com/). The Corner Wine Bar is a perfect English Pub, but it’s also the place to hear some amazing Bluegrass. Almost every Friday and Saturday night, Touch of Grass performs in the basement of the Corner Wine Bar to standing- room-only crowds.
  • The Jazz Kitchen (5377 North College Avenue, thejazzkitchen.com/). At The Jazz Kitchen, you can enjoy a New Orleans-inspired meal while listening to amazing jazz. It was voted one of the “World’s Top 100 Jazz Clubs in the World” by Downbeat Magazine and features local, regional, and international jazz performers.
  • The Vogue (6259 North College Avenue, thevogue.com/). A 1930s movie house turned nightclub, The Vogue is the place for close-up concerts by lesser-known and world-famous performers. If you just feel like dancing, check out one of The Vogue’s regular dance parties on Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday night.

As you can see, Indianapolis offers something for everyone. I hope you enjoy our wonderful Circle City and the diverse music and theater options it offers.


Notes
1 Indianapolis Downtown Inc. may be viewed at www.indydt.com/eventsearch.cfm.
2 See the Arts Council of Indianapolis Web site at www.indyarts.org/calendar.aspx.
Copyright © 2012 Tina Baich

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