Indiana dinner theaters combine high-class live entertainment with world-class dining for the ultimate curtain call that is a memorable addition to any trip
Any itinerary planner will tell you that treating your travelers to a restaurant-quality meal and professional entertainment in one place makes their job a breeze. No need to worry about pulling your group away from an early dinner, piling them onto the bus and rushing over to the theater before the curtain rises. Ticket prices, moreover, are much lower than the big-time houses—and a fraction of Broadway shows in New York. Check out this list of spectacular Indiana dinner theaters that are sure to wow your group.
- Round Barn Theatre – Nappanee
- Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre – Shipshewana
- Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre – Indianapolis
- Derby Dinner Playhouse – Clarksville
- Theatre at the Center – Munster
Amish Country Indiana Dinner Theaters
The Barns at Nappanee is a popular Northern Indiana destination for those looking for good food, live entertainment and vibrant festivals. It is home to the 400-seat Round Barn Theatre, which is home to the resident repertory musical theater company and has its own costume shop, scenic design shop and warehouse, and props department. It produces seven shows during a nine-month season. Past shows have included Anne of Green Gables, The Sunshine Boys and Beauty and the Beast.
Before or after the performance, groups can feast on Amish favorites under the hand-hewn timbers of the adjacent Barns FarmTable restaurant, a cavernous space that dates to 1876. The family-style Threshers Dinner features fried chicken, ham and roast beef, plus thick ham and bean soup, hearth-baked bread with apple butter, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, sage dressing, beef and noodles, and sweet and sour cabbage salad. Save room for shoofly, chocolate, pecan, peanut butter or coconut cream pie, to name just a few of the possible choices on a given day.
The Barns at Nappanee, created from an 80-acre Old Order Amish farm, offers tours of the 140-year-old house and other buildings. Guests will see antique farm equipment, an apple orchard, horses, chickens and geese. Craft demonstrations might include Amish specialties like broom making and quilting or seasonal activities like cider or sorghum molasses making. Buggy and wagon rides are available.
Another of the popular Indiana dinner theaters in Amish Country awaits groups at Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre in Shipshewana. In a rambling white farmhouse setting all under one roof, the complex includes 1,200 seats in seven dining rooms, a bakery and an upper-level theater that seats 320.
Theatrical fare at the Blue Gate, with morning, afternoon and evening performances, ranges from plays and musicals with Amish and Mennonite themes to concerts featuring country and Christian gospel artists. Groups can expect stick-to-your-ribs fare like slow-roasted beef and ham, fried chicken, turkey, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and noodles with beef. Among the 20-some pie varieties: German chocolate, sugar cream, banana cream, butterscotch, lemon meringue, peanut butter and custard. Meals are family- or buffet-style. Groups can spend hours exploring Shipshewana’s shop-lined streets, which are alive with Amish buggies as well as cars. The famous Shipshewana Flea Market, the largest in the Midwest, is held every Tuesday and Wednesday from May through September.
Dinner Theater in the Capital
Indianapolis group itineraries often include juicy slices of Broadway entertainment and hand-carved meat at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Established in 1973, the venue got its name from the beef served before the performance, and “boards” refers to the stage of a theater. The dinner buffet always features the signature beef, plus other meats, a selection of hot vegetables, fruit and salad bar, mouthwatering desserts, and unlimited coffee, tea or lemonade. A full-service bar is available. Views of the stage are excellent from all six rows of tables.
The playbill has recently included musicals such as Footloose, An American in Paris and Sophisticated Ladies. Evening performances typically take place Tuesday through Sunday, with matinees Wednesday and Sunday. Beef & Boards entertains about 155,000 people annually.
Broadway Comes to Indiana Dinner Theaters
In Southern Indiana, Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville has been the place to go among Indiana dinner theaters for Broadway musicals, lighthearted comedy and good food for the last 45 years. It accommodates about 500 guests in tables grouped around a central stage, welcoming 200,000 patrons a year.
Derby Dinner has produced every single one of the top 50 Broadway musicals of all time, including Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music and Annie. There are eight mainstage shows running Tuesday through Sunday year-round. Recent top picks have included Newsies, the dance-filled musical adapted from the Disney film based on the true story about New York City newsboys striking against unfair working conditions, and the Christmas season favorite Elf The Musical. The Footnotes, the theater’s own vocal ensemble, entertains just prior to the stage production. The buffet offers carved pork or turkey, fried fish, fried chicken, a variety of vegetables, hot rolls, a salad bar and desserts. Coffee and tea are included, and there’s a full bar.
A Northwest Indiana Favorite
In Northwest Indiana, within easy reach of Chicago and suburbs, is a gem called Theatre at the Center. The non-profit resident theater is located in Munster at the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, which is sustained by grants (including the Indiana Arts Commission), individual donations and support from the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana.
Theatre at the Center presents evening and matinee performances of five mainstage productions a year. Recent offerings include Million Dollar Quartet, Dames at Sea, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and tribute band The Neverly Brothers. In this intimate theater seating 410, no one in your group will sit more than seven rows from the stage.
Lunch-and-show packages are available for groups booking a Wednesday or Thursday matinee; a set menu with choice of two entrees is served in one of the center’s dining rooms before the 2 p.m. show. Or groups can enjoy the Sunday Champagne Brunch prior to showtime. The Thursday dinner option, held before the 7:30 p.m. performance, is more of an event and includes activities themed around the show.
Smart tour planners find that scheduling an evening or afternoon of food and fun is a no-brainer. In fact, a visit to one of these exceptional Indiana dinner theaters could be your itinerary’s star attraction.