Elma Lewis was one of Boston’s most revered cultural icons. In the 1950s, she founded the Elma Lewis School for Fine and Performing Arts, where thousands of African-American children and adults learned cultural history, explored their creativity, and cultivated their artistic skills. In the 1960s, Miss Lewis and her students cleared an overgrown area in Franklin Park where the Overlook Shelter had burned and then erected the Playhouse stage to create an open-air performance venue.
From 1966–1978, Playhouse events were held every single night from July 4th through Labor Day. Musical legends like Duke Ellington, Olatunji and his drum of Africa, the Billy Taylor Trio, and Odetta, graced the Playhouse stage.
Today, the Franklin Park Coalition carries on the legacy of Miss Elma Lewis and her students by organizing the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park. We host local R&B, reggae, and gospel artists every Tuesday night in the summer, and this year, we hope to include a Jazz Festival. More than a thousand people come out to enjoy the free concert series every week … don’t miss out on the fun!
Bring a picnic supper, your lawn chairs, and lots of friends! But please remember, there’s no smoking or alcohol use in the park, and barbecuing is not permitted. Food trucks will be on site for the evening concerts.
Children’s shows are in the morning at 11:00am. Evening concerts start at 6:00pm.View Photo Gallery
Thank You Sponsors
Oak Tree Sponsor
Sponsor the Playhouse in the Park
Join our amazing sponsors and partners, learn more about our sponsorship/vendor options for 2019. Food Vendors should complete the Food Vendor Form.
How to Find the Playhouse
If traveling by car, drive down Circuit Drive (the main road through Franklin Park) and exit onto Pierpont Road towards the back (Giraffe Entrance) of the Zoo. Look for signs! The stage will be on your left and there is plenty of parking available. There is also a gravel parking lot located on Circuit Drive next to Pierpont road across from the golf course.*
If traveling by public transportation, take the Orange Line to Green Street. Exit the station and turn right. Walk along Green Street, cross Washington Street, and walk up the hill into the park. Green Street turns into Glen Road. Follow Glen Road, enter the park, and stay on the paved pathway until you see the back of the Playhouse stage to the right (about a 10-minute walk). The #16 bus also travels through Franklin Park on Circuit Drive and stops directly across from the Playhouse stage – ask the driver for the Pierpont Road stop. The Playhouse is a short walk from buses that stop on Seaver Street – get off at Humboldt or Elm Hill Ave.
* Please note that after July 22nd the Zoo lights exhibit will make parking difficult. Plan to arrive at the Playhouse early if possible or walk, bicycle, or take the T.
6 PM Tuesday Night Concerts
Bring your lawn chairs, lots of friends, and a picnic supper (or grab one from the food trucks). Join Amanda “Lady Emcee” Merricks with Boston Rhythm Riders leading line dancing at intermissions!
7/12 – Opening Night with Richie Rich & 24-Karat Funk
7/19 – The MastaDonis Project
7/26 – Open Mic Night and Donna Nixon
8/2 – Jamaican Independence Celebration with Roots Alley Collective featuring Dion Knibb
8/9 – E-Water Band
8/16 – Angelena Hightower and the Unit
Morning shows at 11am for summer camps, child care programs, and families with OrigiNation and Music with Monet.
More info and weather updates will be posted via social media: FB – Franklin Park Coalition and @FranklinParkBos