Performing Arts Groups React To The Pandemic

March 17, 2020

When it was announced on Thursday that Broadway was shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a sinking feeling it would only be a matter of time before the same fate would befall theatres and venues in Central Indiana. In the days following, the situation, which was fluid and changing hourly, had performing arts organizations scrambling to figure out how and if their shows would go on. It wasn’t until the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation on Sunday restricting public gatherings to fewer than 50 people that organizations finally had to make some hard decisions on how too proceed

In an effort to inform the public, especially those who have already purchased tickets to plays and concerts, I reached out to all of the local performing arts organizations regarding their cancellations and plans moving forward. In all the replies I received, it was an announcement from Indiana Repertory Theatre that stood out as emblematic and which spoke to the very same issues that all arts organizations, large and small, are experiencing during these uncertain, if not unprecedented times.

The IRT message read, “As a nonprofit organization, which employs many talented artists, artisans and staff, the IRT could use your support during this time. We know that closing for the remainder of the season is the right decision to make for our community, but please consider donating the value of the remainder of this season’s tickets to the IRT. We hope that you will help support the work of the IRT and the people who create the sets, lights, sound, costumes, take your tickets, serve your beverages, and so many more behind the scenes. We cannot overstate the devastating impact that not performing the remainder of our season will have on our organization. We know that you love what an evening at the IRT entails—an evening of high-quality theatre that strengthens community and expands our humanity.”

Given the dearth of arts coverage by traditional media outlets, performing arts organizations have done a good job of informing patrons about their cancellations and closings via email, but just in case you missed their notifications, I’ve listed their current statuses below.

In addition to these development please also be aware that the Indiana AIDS Fund’s Deborah J. Simon Spotlight 2020 that was to take place on April 27 is also canceled.

Actors Theatre of Indiana

Suspended its 2019-2020 season finale “Damn Yankees,” as well as the ATI Theatre Lab Series programming of Ethan Mathias’s reading of his new play “Provenance.”

American Lives Theatre

Postponed “Boy Meets Girl” and is working with IndyFringe to find alternate production dates TBD. Also, an April 4 fundraiser and rehearsals starting for “Detroit” are canceled.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

Closed for eight weeks. “Saturday Night Fever” and the upcoming production of “An American in Paris” are canceled.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre

“A Few Good Men” and “Matilda The Musical” are canceled. It is currently uncertain if these shows will be remounted at the Center for the Performing Arts, but all efforts are being made to reschedule, if feasible.

Broadway in Indianapolis

Postponed all performances of “Cats” scheduled between March 31 and April 5.

Center for the Performing Arts

Suspending all performances and other events on its campus through May 11. The affected venues include the Palladium, the Tarkington and The Studio Theater. The cancellations include performances by Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Civic Theatre, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and Indiana Wind Symphony, as well as education events, rental events and the following eight performances:

• Peking Acrobats, March 15
• Kurt Elling Quintet, March 21
• Doolin’, March 27
• “Treasure Island,” March 28 (two shows)
• “Piaf! The Show,” March 28
• Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, March 29
• “800 lb. Gorilla”, April 4

Clowes Memorial Hall – Butler Arts Center

Canceled all events through May 11.

Dance Kaleidoscope

Dance Kaleidoscope’s gala, “Prom through the Decades,” at The Westin Indianapolis, April 4, has been rescheduled for June 27. The May 28-31 performances of “Edge of Innovation” at IRT are, at this time, still going ahead as planned. 

Footlite Musicals

Canceled the last weekend of the run of “Fun Home,” March 19-22.

Fonseca Theatre Company

Remaining performances of “The Cake” are postponed. Future dates for this show and the season’s remaining shows are TBD. Operations will cease until Mid-May.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre

The company’s production of “Exodus,” scheduled for April 3-5 at the Tarkington, is canceled.

Indianapolis Ballet

“Sleeping Beauty,” originally scheduled for April 17-19 at The Toby, is postponed. IB is currently working with Newfields on securing a new date in June or July. Classes at the Indianapolis School of Ballet are canceled.

Indianapolis Opera

“Don Giovanni” performances scheduled for March 20-22 at The Toby have been canceled. 

Indiana Repertory Theatre

The rest of the 2019-2020 season has been canceled. Shows included are “The Paper Dreams of Henry Chin,” (March 25-April 19) and “Sense and Sensibility,” (April 14-May 10).

Indianapolis Symphonic Choir

“Elijah production” with ISO on Friday, March 27 has been canceled.

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra will suspend performances and public events through May 27.

Concerts affected by the cancellation include:

  • The Passion of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony: Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14
  • Ruth Reinhardt Leads the ISO: Thursday, March 19; Friday, March 20; and Saturday, March 21
  • Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”: Friday, March 27
  • “Broadway Standing Ovations”: Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4
  • Conrad Jones Plays Haydn: Thursday, April 16; Friday, April 17;  and Saturday, April 18
  • “Resurrection Mixtape: Mahler, 2Pac, Biggie”; Wednesday, April 22
  • “An Evening with Lea Salonga”: Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25
  • “Mary Poppins” in Concert Live to Film: Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3
  • Edo de Waart Conducts Elgar: Thursday, May 7; Friday, May 8; and Saturday, May 9
  • Bartók v. Björk: Wednesday, May 13
  • “The Vinyl Years: A Classic Rock Songbook”: Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16


IndyFringe and The District Theatre are closed until further notice.

Kids Dance Outreach

The organization’s event of the year, “Message in a Bottle” on April 28 and 29 has been postponed until September (Fall 2020).

Phoenix Theatre

The remaining “Agitators” are cancelled. Member groups shows, Q Artistry’s “Zirkus Grimm” and Summit Performance Indianapolis’ “This Authentic Person” has also been canceled. Whether “Alabaster’ which opens May 7 is presented is yet TBD.

Storefront Theatre

“1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson)” which was set to open on April 25 has been postponed.  All renters for March and April have either been postponed or canceled.

The Cabaret

“The Next Generations Cabaret”  scheduled for April 17 has been rescheduled for September 11. Ticket holders do not need to notify The Cabaret unless they cannot attend the rescheduled date. For those unable to attend the rescheduled date: Tickets can be exchanged into an alternate 2020 performance (while supplies last).

If there are organizations I have missed, please feel free to notify me with your information by email at  so that I may will include it in a follow-up story. Also, for any further information or changes, please visit the organizations’ websites. In the meantime, please support organizations by not seeking refunds on unused tickets and consider it a donation instead. As far as that goes, consider making an additional donation because we can’t know the long-term implications of how the pandemic will affect the arts, but I think we can all agree during these uncertain times that art has the ability to inspire, provide hope and feed the soul. It’s more critical than ever and so are the people who create it.



photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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