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
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 dirt 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 down Green Street, cross Washington Street, and walk up the hill into the park. Green Street turns into Glen Road. Follow Glen Road and stay on the paved pathway until you see 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.
* Please note that after July 23rd the Zoo lights exhibit will make parking difficult. Plan to arrive at the Playhouse early if possible.
Tuesday Night Concerts
Start at 6 PM
Bring your lawn chairs, a picnic supper (or grab from the food trucks) and lots of friends! Join Amanda Lady Emcee Merricks with Boston Rhythm Riders leading line dancing at intermissions!
7/20- Sympli Whitney and friends
7/27 – Angelena and the Unit
8/3- Reggae Night- Featuring Chosen from Berklee College of Music
8/10- E-Water Band and friends, celebrating the life and music of Eric Watson
Tuesday Morning Children’s Shows
Start at 11:00 am
For summer campers, child care programs, and families. Get up and dance to original music and classic hits. Inspire your children’s love for art & music as they watch young people perform too!
7/20- OrigiNation Dance Troupe
7/27- Music with Monet
8/3- OrigiNation Dance Troupe
8/10 – Music with Monet
OrigiNation produces innovative and dynamic performing arts programs which motivate, challenge and inspire youth to be the best they can be.
More info and weather updates will be posted via social media: FB – Franklin Park Coalition and @FranklinParkBos