Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
With in-person theatre out of commission for the foreseeable future, many companies and performers from Broadway and beyond are showcasing their work online. Below are performances you can watch today, Wednesday, September 30, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
The Metropolitan Opera: The Merry Widow
At 5 p.m. ET, ever since the shutdown began, the Metropolitan Opera has been sharing productions from its Live in HD series nightly at 7:30 p.m. ET. But it also presents weekly student streams that debut on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. ET. These productions have been specially selected for families, and Zoom education sessions leading up to the screening teach school-age kids about opera. This week's offering is the Met's 2015 mounting of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow, helmed by Tony-winning director Susan Stroman, and starring opera legend Renée Fleming as the title character, who's wooed by Nathan Gunn's Danilo, an old flame with ulterior motives. Tony Award winner Kelli O'Hara costars. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
New York City Center's Studio 5: Great American Ballerinas
At 5 p.m. ET, New York City Center wraps up its Great American Ballerinas series with American Ballet Theatre star Misty Copeland and world-renowned prima ballerina Alessandra Ferri revisiting Juliet's solos from Act III of Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet. Watch for free on New York City Center's YouTube channel.
Two River Theater: Romeo and Juliet
At 7 p.m. ET, New Jersey's Two River Theater teams up with NYC's National Asian American Theatre Company for a live reading of an innovative take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This version was translated into modern verse by Hansol Jung and is directed by Chay Yew, and the all-Asian cast features Be More Chill favorite Stephanie Hsu and Mitchell Winter as the ill-fated couple alongside stage stalwarts Mia Katigbak and Joel de la Fuente. The tragedy will be presented in two parts: Act I tonight and Act II at the same time tomorrow. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the Asian Pride Project.
New York Theatre Barn: New Works Series
At 7 p.m. ET, for the past 13 years, New York Theatre Barn has showcased works in progress in its New Works Series. That initiative has now gone virtual, with 40-minute peeks at two new musicals a week. Tonight, catch excerpts from The Lucky Boy, a satirical one-act by Kirsten Childs about a despotic ruler whose reign is threatened by an undocumented immigrant. Benjamin Velez and Aryanna Garber's Borderline centers on a young woman living with mental illness. Watch for free on New York Theatre Barn's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Len Cariou in Broadway & The Bard: An Evening of Shakespeare & Song
At 7:30 p.m. ET, even though Len Cariou has spent the past decade playing the patriarch on CBS' Blue Bloods, the stage is his first and greatest love. In this charming solo show, he celebrates his five decades on the boards as both a Shakespearean actor and a musical theatre star whose credits include his Tony-winning turn as the title character in Sweeney Todd. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
The Metropolitan Opera: La Clemenza di Tito
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera's week of Mozart favorites continues with La Clemenza di Tito, a thrilling tale of power and politics in ancient Rome. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle staged this 2012 mounting, with Giuseppe Filianoti as the Emperor Tito whose bride-to-be (Barbara Frittoli) is plotting revenge against him in the name of her father. Lucy Crowe, Elina Garanca, Kate Lindsey and Oren Gradus costar. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Così fan tutte, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Primary Stages: The Tribute Artist
At 8 p.m. ET, Primary Stages kicks off its virtual season with camp master Charles Busch headlining a reading of his real estate romp The Tribute Artist. The uproarious tale of a female impersonator who poses as his deceased landlady in order to hold on to her townhouse, this event reunites Busch with two of his regular comedy conspirators, director Carl Andress and scene-stealer Julie Halston, who both worked on the show's 2014 Off-Broadway production. Tickets are $35.
Stars in the House: the Ladies of Jerome Robbins' Broadway
At 8 p.m. ET, put on your dancin' shoes as Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome the women from Jerome Robbins' Broadway to Stars in the House. The song-and-dance revue celebrated the work of director-choreographer-producer Jerome Robbins and won six 1989 Tony Awards, including best musical. The show's leading ladies Charlotte d'Amboise, Faith Prince, Debbie Gravitte, JoAnn Hunter, Mary Ann Lamb and Susann Fletcher will reminisce about collaborating with the title genius as well as costar Jason Alexander, who left to star in a little sitcom called Seinfeld. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Available to Watch All Day
Netflix: The Boys in the Band
We don't usually promote performances on Netflix, but The Boys in the Band starts streaming today and it's a must-see. Matt Crowley's play about a group of gay men at a party that devolves into a night of uncomfortable truth telling was groundbreaking when it premiered in 1968. Fifty years later, Joe Mantello directed a cast of out and proud actors, including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells and Robin De Jesús, in a production on Broadway, which won the Tony Award for best revival. If you missed that mounting or if you want to revisit this powerful piece, now's your chance! Don't have Netflix? You can still watch at no cost by signing up for a 30-day free trial.
New York City Ballet: All Balanchine
After taking the summer off, New York City Ballet leaps into fall with five weeks of exhilarating archival recordings. The series kicks off with an all-Balanchine program—Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and The Unanswered Question from Ivesiana, with excerpts from Symphony in C, Liebeslieder Walzer, Episodes and Stravinsky Violin Concerto—featuring some of the company's biggest stars, including Ashley Bouder, Lauren Lovette, Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Ask la Cour and Taylor Stanley. Watch for free until Monday, October 5 on NYCB's YouTube channel.
Great Performances: Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet
In 1965, acclaimed choreographer Kenneth MacMillan debuted his iconic staging of Romeo and Juliet at The Royal Ballet. This film adaptation by the BalletBoyz, aka Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, brings the romantic tragedy to the screen, with Francesca Hayward and William Bracewell as Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers dancing to Prokofiev's lush score. Watch for free until Friday, October 9 on PBS' website.
The Joyce Theater
Chelsea dance haven The Joyce Theater kicks off its virtual season with four eclectic recordings available for four weeks: Calling Glenn choreographed by Danielle Agami for her Ate9 Dance Company; She Who: Frida, Mami & Me by the LA-based Contra-Tiempo; Indumba by Chicago's Deeply Rooted Dance Theater; and four short films by the London hip-hip troupe Far From the Norm. Watch for free on The Joyce's website.
Al Hirschfeld: West Wing Ha!
So this is an online exhibition, not a performance, but we couldn't resist sharing this wonderful collection of Al Hirschfeld caricatures of statesmen or actors playing politicians, including illustrations of the musicals 1776 and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Check out the art for free online.
Top image: Charles Busch in The Tribute Artist at Primary Stages in 2014. Photo courtesy of the theatre.