Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park

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.

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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.

2023 Performances

6 PM Concerts

Bring your lawn chairs, lots of friends, and a picnic supper (or buy one from food trucks).  

New Dates to close out the summer!

Tuesday 8/22 – Battle of the DJs

Wednesday 8/23 – Perfect Example rescheduled

More info and weather updates will be posted via social media: FB – Franklin Park Coalition and @FranklinParkBos