by Justin Brady
You know May is such a slow time in Indianapolis, what it really needs is an infusion of song and dance. Show me your jazz hands if you're ready to put on your Sunday best and go see a razzle-dazzle show. You are in luck, because this town has a plethora of musical options this month. I've worked my way around the city and offer you the following recommendations of shows and tips for maximizing your experience while noshing at some suggested nearby restaurants for the perfect date night, family night, girls night, gays night, or unlikely bros night out.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's recent tradition of staging a concert version of a musical with Broadway pedigree stars (and local chorus members) has proven to be one of the highlights of the arts calendar. This year is sure to be a spectacle when Cole Porter's classic musical Anything Goes takes the stage. Grab your pals for this one and head to Tastings before the show to work your way through the wine-tasting stations. I recommend sharing the sesame encrusted tuna and making your own cheese plate or choosing from the flatbread pizzas. After the show you will want to head to Libertine for an artisan cocktail, and don't be surprised if a few of the performers walk in for post-show dining.
Footlite Musicals brings to the stage Nine, the story of a celebrated Italian film director, Guido Contini and the many women he loves. Make it a date night on the Old Northside with a stop at the cozy Shoefly Public House. Start with the sweet potato fries with your choice of toss and sauce (I prefer garlic parmesan), move onto the perfect-for-sharing Walleye Tacos (except there are three so you might fight over the last), and then finish it up with the namesake decadent dessert Shoefly Pie topped with crystalized ginger gelato.
For those ready to soak up a little nostalgia or introduce your own children to the crazy family you hope never to become, The Adams Family musical is sure to provide a kooky night. Before heading to Clowes Memorial Hall, hop over to Naked Tchopstix in Broad Ripple and get adventurous with your sushi experience. Gomez would certainly order the Playboy Roll, which comes lit on fire, and now might be the time to finally feel brave enough to try the Octopus Salad.
Fountain Square (and beyond)
If nontraditional musicals are your thing, head southeast to find an unusual choice in an unusual spot. Just outside the city, Buck Creek will appear to be in the middle of nowhere, but its annual musical under the direction of Scott Robinson is always a great show with a loyal following. No stranger to choosing rarely performed shows, Buck Creek's performance of Carrie marks the Indianapolis premiere of the musical adapted from Stephen King's best-selling novel. Buck Creek is a quick 15-minute drive from Fountain Square, so I always make that my starting and/or stopping spot. Hit up Revolucion and share some tacos, chips and guacamole and, of course, the eatery's spicy margaritas.
The Center for the Performing Art's dance card is full with two musical options. Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre kicks off its centennial season with a production of Les Miserables of epic proportions. If you prefer classic crooning to belting ballads, then head to the Studio Theatre for I Love a Piano featuring the music of Irving Berlin. Just next to the Palladium stop in at Divvy for its ample selection of small plates. There are so many tasty-looking items on the lengthy menu that your best bet is to ask the server for a recommendation.
For a true family outing, relive the magic of Mary Poppins with Beef & Boards' always-exceptional cast. Beyond the magic of a flying nanny and familiar songs, you will also have fun navigating the smorgasbord buffet together. In our post Saving Mr. Banks era it might be hard not to focus on how outraged P.L. Travers would be to know her beloved book is now a stage musical. My recommendation is to distract yourself from these thoughts by splurging on a dessert delivered during intermission. On my last visit, I had a delectable slice of pecan pie, a spoonful of sugar indeed.