In the News


2017-2018 Candlelight Theatre Season


After 14 years of partnership, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and Candlelight Theatre are proud to announce an expanded theatre season, consisting of four unique performances written by resident playwright, James Trofatter, in collaboration with creative director, Donna Wing.

The season will begin with in October with patron favorite, Victorian Villains, directed by James Trofatter. Guests will experience a progressive theatre performance within the Harrison mansion itself, each room revealing a spooky new scene. It’s perfect for an eerily fun Halloween outing!

The company’s newest holiday tradition, ‘Twas the Night Before..., directed by Heather Wing will show in December 2017. This popular performance will include beloved characters from holiday lore and introduce new festive friends. With the mansion frosted in all its holiday finery, it’s a fun way to get in the spirit of the season for the whole family!

Murder in Triplicate will be the company’s spring show. Salon-style performances in April 2018 will include a trilogy of one act plays, each performed in a different room of the mansion, complete with candlelight, historical artifacts, and the rich ambiance of President Harrison’s original furnishings.

In summer 2018, the Presidential Site and Candlelight Theatre will add a special performance, The Trial of Nancy Clem directed by Sue Beecher, on the Cook Theater stage at Indiana Landmarks. At Candlelight Theatre’s first feature stage performance, patrons will revisit the true crime story of the notorious and nefarious Nancy Clem. Will she be the first woman convicted of murder in Indiana?

Season tickets are available now! Please call (317) 631-1888 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details and pricing.


2017-2018 Performance Dates:

Victorian Villains

October 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 2017
Performances begin at 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm on Sunday, with show times every half hour

For tickets and additional information, please click here.

'Twas the Night Before...

December 15, 16, 17, 2017
Performances begin at 6pm on Fridays and Saturday, and 2pm on Sunday, with show times every half hour

For tickets and additional information, please click here.

Murder in Triplicate

April 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 2018
Performances begin at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm on Sunday

The Trial of Nancy Clem

July 20, 21, 27, 29, 2018
Performances begin at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm on Sunday

For information on Candlelight Theatre's upcoming performance, Victorian Villians, please click here.



Civil War Camp

Youth Leadership Camp
July 17-21 • 9am-4pm • Ages 9-12
$225 per child member rate • $250 per child non-member rate

AT-TEN-TION! In this one week summer camp, kids join Colonel Benjamin Harrison as he embarks on an experience that will change his life - and the course of our country's history - forever.

Civil War Camp offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for new "recruits" to enlist, drill, train, and explore first-hand what it was like to serve the Union army in the 70th Indiana. Participants will enjoy the week exploring what it takes to be a good soldier, citizen, and leader using real stories from Colonel Benjamin Harrison's Civil War experience.

Each day's activities and field trips are focused on specific themes enriched by hands-on activities led by our award-winning education team and Civil War experts:

Monday:          Why Fight?

Tuesday:         Military Strategy

Wednesday:   In the Field

Thursday:        Day of Battle

Friday:             The Grand Review

PLEASE NOTE: The experience will engage participants mentally and physically, so be ready for an action-packed week, including The Grand Review on Friday afternoon. Plus, there will be a special opportunity to meet living veterans from our country's remarkable past, from World War II to the Gulf War!

This camp is limited to 20 participants (ages 9-12). Registration opens for Presidential Site members on Monday, February 20th and non-members on the 22nd!





About Candlelight Theatre

In 2004, Dr. Donna Wing worked with the museum staff to create Candlelight Theatre, a theatre partnership featuring 19th-century and early 20th-century plays with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site providing a one-of-a-kind stage.  We are keenly aware of this rare opportunity to present a variety of theatre genres that rotate the audience through the sacred space of a President's home, showcasing antique Harrison collectibles and furnishings. Candlelight Theatre continues to offer theatrical experiences that carefully weave entertainment and experience with education—which is at the heart of the BHPS mission: to increase public understanding of, appreciation for, and participation in the American system of self-government through the life stories, arts and culture of an American President.


Donna Wing – Creative Director

Donna spent her childhood and teen years in both New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was a young actress and dancer.  She modeled and danced on a local teen television show in Tulsa and later worked professionally for CSI Productions where she appeared in training videos.  She holds a bachelor and masters degree in nursing from the University of Tulsa and University of Oklahoma, respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Tulsa in conjunction with the University of London England.

In 1999 she surrendered her tenure as a mental health nursing professor and moved to Indianapolis.   At that time she returned to the performing arts, studying dance privately as well as studying theater at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  She joined the community theatre circuit, performing in most Indianapolis-area theatres as well as in Chicago.  In 2004, she opened two theatre companies, Oaklandon Civic Theatre (OCT) in northeast Indianapolis and Candlelight Theatre at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, each with a different mission and business model.

In 2012, Donna was an ADVANCED LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE PARTNER FELLOW at Harvard University. Her project focused on creating new arts delivery paradigms of which Candlelight Theatre was a prototype.

In Candlelight Theatre, she has performed in Georges Feydeau's Wooed and Viewed; Agatha Christie's The Rats; George Bernard Shaw's The Inca of Perusalem; and Eugene Labiche's A Matter of Wife and Death, among other productions. She has also directed Chekhov's Swan Song; Shaw's How He Lied to Her Husband; H. G. Wells' The Inexperienced Ghost; John Murray's The Door; and William Muskerry's Box and Cox.


James Trofatter – Resident Playwright

Jim was born and raised in north-central New Jersey about 30 miles west of New York City. His first role was King Oberon in A Mid-Summer Night's Dream in the fourth grade and he performed numerous roles throughout his teen years in high school productions.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Duke University, an M.S. in Differential and Developmental Cell Biology from Rutgers, The State University and a Ph.D. in Medical and Molecular Genetics from Indiana University.  During his doctoral work he performed in The Mikado” and Amahl and the Night Visitors both staged at the Edyvean Theatre at the Christian Theological Seminary.  He also sang with the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir at this time.

He left Indianapolis for a five-year post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard and returned to Indiana in 1995 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine.  Since this time he has performed regularly on stage within the Indianapolis area.  In 2003, he left his position as an Assistant Professor to focus his efforts full-time on writing plays and acting.  He has performed at Theatre on the Square, the Irvington Repertory Theatre, the Oaklandon Civic Theatre, Candlelight Theatre, as well as in various locations during the Indianapolis Fringe Festival. His three plays based on the Harmony books of Philip Gulley were produced by the Irvington Repertory Theatre.  These are An Advent of HarmonyA Passion for Harmony, and Corn and Sausage in Harmony.  In addition to his writing and acting he became the technical director for Theatre on the Square in 2005.

Jim first performed with Candlelight Theatre in the spring of 2004 appearing with Bob Berry in Anton Chekhov’s Swan Song.  He has also performed in George Bernard’s Shaw’s The Inca of Perusalem and How He Lied To Her Husband; Agatha Christie’s The Rats; Eugene Labiche’s A Matter of Wife and Death; Marlene Remington’s In Memoriam and Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher.

He has also directed seven of the half-hour shows presented during Candlelight Theatre's spring productions including George Bernard’s Shaw’s The Inca of Perusalem and Augustus Does His Bit; his own Mr. Edward Voorhees; Georges Feydeau’s Romance in A Flat; Lucille Fletcher’sSorry, Wrong Number; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Speckled Band and Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher.

Jim has directed and written the Candlelight Theatre fall Ghost Tales series since 2006 at which time he also became the playwright-in-residence to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.  These plays include the two-part saga of Cold-Blooded at Cold Spring depicting the Nancy Clem murder trial, Ghost Tales of the Civil War and Ghost Tales of Indiana and Victorian Villians.



Candlelight Theatre Photos




"Victorian Villains" Fall 2011

Guests lucky enough to reserve a ticket to this SOLD OUT original play by resident playwright James Trofatter, experienced a crash course in criminal science investigation. On this progressive performance through all three floors of the President's mansion, patrons had an up-close and personal opportunity to learn the inner workings of the criminal mind from some of the greatest nefarious villains in history like Lizzie Borden, Sweeney Todd, H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper.


"Murder Most Merry" Spring 2011

Patrons of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site’s “Victorian Theatre by Candlelight” spring 2011 production of "Murder Most Merry" enjoyed three one-act mysteries; “Not My Cup of Tea” by A. F. Groff, Pat Cook’s play “Pandora’s Revenge” and “An Inspector Answers” by Norman Phillip Hart. This performance was immensely popular, resulting in record breaking attendance and the addition of an eighth performance.


Out the Window sm

 "Ghost Tales of the Witch and Famous" Fall 2010

Ghost Tales of the Witch and Famous was the most recent addition to local playwright James Trofatter's Ghost Tales series.  In this production, celebrity expert and TV host Ima Leech introduced guests to the ghosts of notable witches and influential people of the past, showing that even the affluent are not immune to the haunting phenomenon.

Over 350 people witnessed these spine tingling tales.

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"Murder and Mystery in the Mansion" Spring 2010

Spring theatre at the President’s home is presented salon-style, giving guests an intimate theatre experience.  In 2010, Victorian Theatre by Candlelight  presented  “Murder and Mystery in the Mansion”  featuring, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Speckled Band,”  “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and Lord Dunsany’s macabre story, “Two Bottles of Relish.”   A record number of guests came to enjoy these three outstanding performances.

Other Fabulous Photos

The Victorian Vaudeville Variety Show Cold-Blooded at Cold Spring
Cold-Blooded at Cold Spring Mystery, Murder, and Mirth!

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“An American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart.” ~ Benjamin Harrison

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