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‘Five Points’ musical premiering at Madam Walker Theatre

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Broadway-bound musical is premiering Friday at the historic Walker Theatre inside the Madam Walker Legacy Center.

“Five Points the musical concert is a story inspired by the confluence of African American and Irish cultures and the birth of American tap dance. It follows an African American performer named Willie Lane and Irish immigrant John Diamond as they risk everything to achieve the American Dream in New York City during the Civil War.

The event is hosted by the nonprofit Discovering Broadway, which was founded by Joel Kirk in 2021.

Discovering Broadway hosts Broadway-bound musical creative teams and casts for multi-week writer’s retreats in Indianapolis and takes them through the creative process. Ultimately, they offer coaching and scholarships and hire performers to test the new material.

“When I think of great cities, they tend to have strong business, good sports, strong arts and culture, and, usually, distinct art and culture. L.A.’s is Hollywood, New York’s is Broadway, and Nashville’s is singer-songwriters,” Kirk said. “So, when I started this, I said, ‘Indiana has to specialize,’ and so I do think Broadway incubation ties in so well with the history of Indiana.”

Michael Conley is a local musician. He has collaborated with Kirk on several musical projects over the last decade.    

“One of the best things that Joel does is that he brings the story to life in a behind-the-scenes way. It’s cool to see shows take shape that may very well end up on the Broadway stage,” Conley said.

The show will play at one of the most historic theatres in the city, the Walker Theatre, and Kirk says that’s by design.

“With the great Netflix series about Madam Walker, ‘Self-Made,’ she’s getting more and more awareness, which is fantastic. But when this musical came along, and it was about Civil War, it was about the Irish community and the black community coming together in New York. I thought, ‘Oh, man, if we could be in that building.’”

The “Five Points” cast includes Tony winner Jessie Mueller, Josh Kaufman from “The Voice,” Aisha Jackson, and Michael Wordly, along with a number of Hoosiers.

Morgan Anita Wood is a native of Indianapolis and one of the stars of “Five Points.” She began acting as a child.

“I am totally starstruck by the group that I have been asked to be a part of for this beautiful production,” Wood said.

Scott Vanwyke is another Hoosier who’s getting a shot to elevate their career with Discovering Broadway and “Five Points.”

“You’ll get a chance to work with bonafide Broadway talent and you’ll get a chance to see how people working today work, how they go about their business and want to learn great skills, how to come to work with a good ethic and preparedness, Vanwyke said.

Kirk says some of the audience members on Friday will be high school students Discovering Broadway is sponsoring. He says that for many, it will be their first time seeing theater.

“What better way for young kids to have something seen in them than by a Broadway actor and sort of have that spark and passion ignited at such a young age? That’s one of the most special things that that we can give,” Kirk said.

Tickets for “Five Points” are available on the Discovering Broadway website. Prices range from $39 to $89. A VIP all-access pass is available for $169.

A poster for “Five Points” The Musical Concert at the Madam Walker Theater in Indianapolis.
(Provided Photo/Discovering Broadway)