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, November 18 from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
Encores! Inside the Revival: The Life
At 2 p.m. ET, City Center's Encores!, which revives undersung musicals, kicks off a five-part behind-the-scenes documentary series with a look at its upcoming mounting of The Life. Kinky Boots Tony winner Billy Porter will be directing the revisal of this Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman tuner about sex workers surviving and striving in 1980 Times Square. He'll chat about his new take on the material with Encores! producing creative director Clint Ramos, and Mykal Kilgore and Ledisi will perform two numbers from the show. Watch for free on City Center's YouTube channel.
Irish Repertory Theatre: Bill Irwin in On Beckett/In Screen
At 3 and 8 p.m. ET, the intrepid Irish Rep presents Tony winner Bill Irwin in a virtual reimagining of his hit solo show On Beckett. Once again, the acclaimed clown takes the stage at the Chelsea theatre to explore the words and work of the groundbreaking Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Only this time, no one is in the audience, which makes this meditation on Beckett's themes of loneliness, loss and decay even more haunting. Reservations are required to receive the free viewing link but a $25 donation is suggested.
The Metropolitan Opera: Carmen
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 Carmen featuring Clémentine Margaine as the title character, who captivates all the men around her. Filmed last year, the production was directed by Richard Eyre, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, and costars Roberto Alagna, Aleksandra Kurzak and Alexander Vinogradov. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
The Kraine Theater: Funny Women of a Certain Age
At 5:30 p.m. ET, the seasoned comics in Funny Women of a Certain Age really pack some punch lines. Carole Montgomery and her pals Vanessa Hollingshead and Maribeth Mooney are bawdy broads who've seen it all, and they're willing to talk. Tickets are $15 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
Broadway's Great American Songbook: Karen Mason
At 7 p.m. ET, The York Theatre Company continues its Broadway's Great American Songbook cabaret series with Karen Mason, whose 40-year stage career includes tuneful turns in Hairspray, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Mamma Mia and the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes 'Round, in which she delivered a thrilling take on "Colored Lights." We suspect that will be one of her soaring songs tonight! Michael Feinstein hosts this intimate concert. Tickets are $20.
Club Cumming Virtual Variety Show
At 7 p.m. ET, Cabaret Tony winner Alan Cumming is also the proprietor of Club Cumming, an East Village nightspot that presents eclectic performances. Tonight, the shuttered venue brings a bit of its fabulousness online with a jam-packed, two-part variety show hosted by Cumming and featuring performances by singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, comedian Judy Gold, gossip guru Michael Musto, drag divas Alexis Michelle and Princess Brittany, burlesque babe Velvetina and other downtown denizens. Tickets are $10.
New York Theatre Workshop: The Cooking Project
At 7 p.m. ET, New York Theatre Workshop presents The Cooking Project, a collaborative work from the Dominican Artists Collective about identity, culture and cuisine in the immigrant community in Washington Heights. Melissa Crespo directs 11 members of the ensemble in this tasty live-streamed piece. Tickets are $10 and a recording will be viewable until Tuesday, December 15.
New Ohio Theatre: The Bath Play
At 7 p.m. ET, indie theatre incubator New Ohio Theatre continues the virtual edition of its annual Producers Club series with The Bath Play, Non Kuramoto's Japanese bathhouse-set monologue about being a first-generation immigrant and self-declared feminist-art-queer. Tickets are pay-what-you-can though a $10 donation is suggested.
The Metropolitan Opera: Rusalka
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Otto Schenk's staging of Rusalka, Antonín Dvorák's tragic Little Mermaid-style fable, starring soprano Renée Fleming as a water nymph who longs to be where the people are so she can win her prince (Piotr Beczala). Emily Magee, Dolora Zajick and John Relyea costar in this 2014 mounting. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Faust, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Primary Stages: The Night Watcher
At 8 p.m. ET, Primary Stages continues its virtual season with a digital reimagining of Charlayne Woodard's autobiographical solo show The Night Watcher, about how she's served as a maternal figure to many beloved folks in her life. A Tony nominee for Ain't Misbehavin' and a star of TV's Pose, Woodard originally performed this show at Primary Stages in 2009. It's a wise and empathetic exploration of what it means to mother. Tickets start at $35.
Stars in the House: Peter Polycarpou and Sally Ann Triplett
At 8 p.m. ET, Stars in the House goes international with British stage and screen actors Peter Polycarpou and Sally Ann Triplett, who'll share a sneak peek at their upcoming song cycle Falling Stars, which they'll perform in person for two nights at London's Union Theatre in January COVID permitting. Created by Polycarpou, the show celebrates the composers, collaborators and music publishers of the 1920s. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Patrick Stewart in Macbeth
Something wickedly good this way comes—Patrick Stewart in Macbeth! Rupert Goold's haunting mounting of Shakespeare's tragedy was seen on Broadway briefly in 2008 and nominated for several Tony Awards. This recording was filmed in 2009 for PBS' Great Performances and reunites Stewart with most of the cast, notably Kate Fleetwood as a chilling Lady Macbeth. Watch for free on PBS' website.
The American Dance Guild Performance Festival: 10 Years Over 10 Weeks
Each year, the American Dance Guild produces a festival that includes salutes to iconic dance-makers. Since the event is virtual this year, the organizers are transforming it into a retrospective of the last decade of honorees, with archival recordings released every Monday for a week. The sixth features tributes to 2015's masters Doug Varone, Liz Lerman and Alice Teirstein. Watch for free until Sunday on Vimeo though donations are encouraged.
New York City Children's Theater: A Band of Angels
New York City Children's Theater produces some of the finest shows for young audiences in town, meaning they're just as engaging for adults as kids. Directed by Broadway vet Colman Domingo, the company's 2015 mounting of A Band of Angels was particularly powerful, and a recording is being streamed this month. Based on Deborah Hopkinson's book of the same name, the musical celebrates the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir founded shortly after the Civil War at one of the first schools for emancipated African-Americans. It's a timely and tuneful history lesson filled with soaring spirituals. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Tickets are $10 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, November 29.
Red Bull Theater: The Courage to Right A Woman's Wrongs (Valor, Agravio y Mujer)
On Monday, NYC's Red Bull Theater presented a live reading of The Courage to Right A Woman's Wrongs (Valor, Agravio y Mujer), and you can now watch the recording. A fierce, feminist take on the Don Juan story, the play was written by 17th-century Spanish playwright Ana Caro. Repertorio Español mounted the US premiere of this revenge story in Spanish in 2017. Now Red Bull tackles a new English translation, directed by Melia Bensussen and starring a mostly Latinx cast, including Anita Castillo-Halvorssen, Helen Cespedes, Natascia Diaz, Anthony Michael Martinez, Sam Morales, Alfredo Narciso, Luis Quintero and Matthew Saldivar. Watch for free until Friday on Red Bull's YouTube channel.
Top image: Bill Irwin in On Beckett at Irish Rep in 2018. Photo by Carol Rosegg.