Steampunk, showtunes focus of inaugural fundraiser


An Indy-based theater company is working to support, create and promote new art. Fat Turtle Theatre was founded in 2017, and creator Aaron Cleveland said he quickly defined its mission.

“Fat Turtle was created to explore what was missing from the Indianapolis area when it comes to live theater,” he said. “After testing theories during the first year, (we) found out that what was missing was an environment which developed and nurtured new works.”

During the next three weekends, Fat Turtle Theatre will stage “This Is Us: An Inspirational Broadway Steampunk Cabaret.” Shows are set for March 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at Switch Theatre at 10029 E. 126th St. in Fishers.

“Fat Turtle wanted to hold a different type of fundraiser to introduce ourselves to a new audience,” Cleveland said. “Our mission focuses on playwrights in the Indianapolis area, and while we like to focus on new works, sometimes new art can be a risky concept, especially to those that only have a certain amount of time and budget to seek out entertainment.

“We hope that by hosting a fun event like this that our supporters will have the chance to bring the family out and help us develop new playwrights in Indianapolis.”

Cleveland, an Indianapolis resident, is Fat Turtle’s managing director. Noblesville resident Andrea Odle will direct. Nicole Amsler, also a Noblesville resident, is the playwright.

“Theatre strives to have great costumes for any production,” Odle said. “(I) chose steampunk because the costumes are over-the-top and elaborate, exactly what you want in a theatrical production. So many venues do a revue/cabaret, and I wanted Fat Turtle’s to stand out from the crowd.”

Shannon Lowes Rice, a Fishers resident, created the steampunk costumes and accessories for the entire cast. Audience members are encouraged to wear steampunk costumes as well.

“The audience will not only be visually stimulated by the lights, costumes and makeup, but also by the songs that are meant to tug at your heart strings, either through endearment or laughter,” Odle said. “There are also several surprise elements, which will delight audiences.”

Besides Cleveland, cast members are Richelle Dixon Lutz, Kaitlyn Kinn, Tessa Gibbons, Jennifer Kaufman, Jennifer Poynter, Brad Root, Jackson Stollings and Jessica Hawkins. The production also has six members the musical pit and a 10-member crew.

“My vision has taken off in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine,” Odle said. “When you work with a talented team, the show keeps exceeding expectations. The music is amazing, performed by our talented cast and arranged by our musical director, Linda Parr.”

Later this spring, Fat Turtle Theatre will present the first-ever, full-length New Play Festival. Fat Turtle will partner with IndyFringe on Mass Ave to introduce four new plays across two weekends, May 8-17.

“We will feature four brand new, full-length works from Indianapolis playwrights, featuring Indianapolis actors and crew,” Cleveland said. “All these scripts were submitted to an open-submission process, which were reviewed and voted on by a panel of five judges with extensive theater experience. In other words, these four plays are really good, and we expect this to be the initial step in letting Indianapolis experience new works in a safe environment.”

Learn more and purchase tickets at


What: “This Is Us: An Inspirational Broadway Steampunk Cabaret” by Fat Turtle Theatre

When: 8 p.m. March 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21

Where: Switch Theatre, 10029 E. 126th St., Fishers

Tickets: $15 advance/online, $20 at the door. Purchase at


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