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15+ Stage Performances to Watch May 17-18

Date: May 17, 2021


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With in-person theatre still a rarity for the time being, many companies and performers from Broadway and beyond are showcasing their work online. Below are performances you can watch this Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.

Monday, May 17

Red Bull Theater: Sejanus His Fall
On Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET, NYC's Red Bull Theater, known for reimagining classics, presents a live reading of Sejanus His Fall, Ben Jonson's 1603 tragedy about the ambitious title character, who serves as the right-hand man to the gloomy Roman emperor Tiberius. A starry cast performs this linguistically rich play, including Tony winners Stephen Spinella and Denis O'Hare, Tony nominee Keith David and Broadway regulars Matthew Rauch, Laila Robins and Tamara Tunie. Watch for free on Red Bull's YouTube channel though a $25 donation is suggested. A recording will be available until Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

The Metropolitan Opera: I Puritani
On Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Bellini's I Puritani, featuring Anna Netrebko as Elvira, an innocent maiden with an iconic mad scene. Eric Cutler, Franco Vassallo and John Relyea costar in this 2007 mounting. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Roberto Devereux, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.

Night of Covenant House Stars
On Monday at 8 p.m. ET, Covenant House, a 49-year-old charity helping homeless and trafficked youth, hosts a star-studded fundraiser. The lineup of guests and performers includes Broadway regulars Abby Mueller, Audra McDonald, Ben Platt, James Monroe Iglehart, Jeremy Jordan, Kelli O'Hara, Laurie Metcalf, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sara Bareilles, Stephanie J. Block and Vanessa Williams, plus Meryl Streep, Dionne Warwick, Dolly Parton, Jon Bon Jovi, Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert and many more. RSVP to receive the free viewing link though donations are encouraged.

Jim Caruso's Pajama Cast Party
On Monday at 8 p.m. ET, cabaret maven Jim Caruso welcomes renowned singers and up-and-comers at Pajama Cast Party, a live-streamed version of his popular weekly Cast Party gatherings that have taken place at Birdland for years. Tonight's lineup includes legendary cabaret singer Marilyn Maye, School of Rock's Jaygee Macapugay and Joe Posa channeling Joan Rivers. Watch for free on YouTube though tips via the Venmo app are appreciated.

Company of Fools: Gruesome Playground Injuries
On Monday at 8 p.m. ET, Company of Fools presents an in-person production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, which will also be streamed to at-home viewers. Written by Tony nominee Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) and directed by TDF's own Tyler Riley, this two-hander chronicles the 30-year relationship between a dysfunctional pair of pals, who are bonded by pain and suffering. Tickets are $30 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.

Tuesday, May 18

Lights on the Radio Tower
Starting on Tuesday, Five OHM Productions and Indie Theatrical present Lights on the Radio Tower, a new rock musical by Emily Goodson and Kevin James Thornton about an estranged brother and sister who reunite after their father's death to sift through the truama of their childhood. Tony nominee Gabriel Barre directs Broadway vet Carrie Manolakos (Dear Evan Hansen) and Max Sangerman in this two-hander about making up and moving on. Tickets are $15.

The Metropolitan Opera: Idomeneo
On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Idomeneo, an early Mozart work featuring Matthew Polenzani as the King of Crete, who's faced with an impossible dilemma. Elza van den Heever, Nadine Sierra, Alice Coote and Alan Opie costar in Jean Pierre-Ponnelle's 2017 production. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, I Puritani, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.

Stars in the House: Guest Host Jessica Kirson
On Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, get ready to laugh! One of the most hilarious folks around, Jessica Kirson, guest hosts Stars in the House to joke about the new Hulu documentary Hysterical, which spotlights women in stand-up comedy. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.

Available to Watch Both Days

MCC Theater: Miscast21
Enjoy an evening of unexpected songs with MCC Theater's Miscast21 benefit. Every year, the Off Broadway theatre hosts a gala featuring stage stars performing numbers from roles they would never traditionally play. In years past, videos of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Raúl Esparza singing "A Boy Like That" from West Side Story and Tina Fey and Tituss Burgess one-upping each other in "You're Nothing Without Me" from City of Angels have gone viral. Due to the pandemic, the event went online in 2020; Miscast21 is also a virtual event, allowing theatre fans everywhere a chance to enjoy the evening of kooky casting, which is often hilarious but also thought-provoking and poignant. This year's stellar lineup includes Annaleigh Ashford, Robin De Jesús, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Cheyenne Jackson, LaChanze, Idina Menzel, Billy Porter, Kelly Marie Tran, Patrick Wilson and a duet from Gavin Creel and Aaron Tveit, who memorably crooned "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent at Miscast 2016. Watch for free until Thursday on MCC's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.

Mint Theater Company: The Fatal Weakness
Off Broadway's esteemed Mint Theater Company, which has been unearthing forgotten plays since 1992, presents a recording of The Fatal Weakness, George Kelly's last produced drama about a die-hard romantic who discovers her longtime husband is a lying cheat. Kristin Griffith, Victoria Mack and Cliff Bemis starred in this 2014 production, which was the play's first New York revival in 68 years. Watch for free until Sunday, June 27 on the Mint's website by clicking on the photo and entering your email address, no password required. Donations are encouraged and closed captions are available.

42nd Street
On Monday and Tuesday at 1, 4, 7 and 10 p.m. ET, come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway! Catch the acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street about a spunky chorus girl who goes out a youngster but comes back a star after the leading lady gets injured. Filmed at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2018, the lavish production features jaw-dropping tap numbers and iconic Broadway songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin including "We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway" and the title tune. Bonnie Langford plays the sidelined star Dorothy Brock and Clare Halse is Peggy Sawyer, the nobody who doesn't throw away her shot. The ultimate backstage musical! Tickets are $15.

Breathe: A New Musical
In spring 2020, best-selling author Jodi Picoult was poised to make her Off Broadway debut with a musicalization of her young adult novel Between the Lines—then the pandemic hit. But she didn't sit around waiting for theatres to reopen. Instead, she and Timothy Allen McDonald conceived of a new digital musical, Breathe, about five disparate couples navigating the challenges of living through a pandemic. Directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun and featuring numbers by five songwriting teams, the show boasts an impressive cast of Broadway favorites, including Kelli O'Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Denée Benton, Colin Donnell, Matt Doyle, Patti Murin and T. Oliver Reid. After what we've all been through, this may be the most relatable musical running right now! Tickets start at $25 and the recording is viewable until Friday, July 9.

PBS Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted
PBS Great Performances presents The Arts Interrupted, a new documentary about how artists and arts organizations have been coping during the pandemic. Vanessa Williams hosts the hour-long special, which includes interviews with seven-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein, who was starring in Moulin Rouge! when Broadway shut down; Jordana Leigh, the senior director of artistic programming for Lincoln Center; Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of New York's Public Theater; and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. There are also performances by Ballet X, the casts of the Broadway musicals Moulin Rouge! and Wicked; Renée Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Watch for free on Thirteen's website.

Animal Wisdom
Heather Christian's singular musical Animal Wisdom about her family's history of communing with the dead was a smash when it ran at Brooklyn's Bushwick Starr in 2017. During quarantine, the Obie-winning songwriter and her four-person band reinvented this tuneful séance for digital consumption in this stage-cinema hybrid, co-helmed by film director Amber McGinnis and stage director Emilyn Kowaleski. Before the pandemic, Christian was on the verge of breaking through with the buzzy Oratorio for Living Things at Ars Nova, but sadly that show only got a chance to play one preview before the industry shut down. (Even so, the musical won a 2021 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater.) With its spiritual insight and fiery blues, gospel and folk score, Animal Wisdom is the perfect introduction to a unique talent. Tickets start at $19 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, June 13.

Play-PerView: Bad Jews
On Saturday, Play-PerView presented a live reading of Bad Jews and you can watch a recording until Wednesday. Joshua Harmon's dark comedy centers on a Jewish family grappling with issues of faith, assimilation and romance in the wake of their beloved grandfather's death. This event reunites cast members from Roundabout Theatre Company's 2014 production, including Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen, along with newcomer Justine Lupe. Daniel Aukin once again directs. Tickets are pay-what-you-wish and proceeds go to Roundabout Theatre Company.

Huntington Avenue Theatre: Black Beans Project
Boston's Huntington Avenue Theatre presents Black Beans Project, a new hour-long comedy by artist-in-residence Melinda Lopez and Broadway's Joel Perez (Fun Home, Sweet Charity) about two siblings who find solace in food and family during the pandemic. Jaime Castañeda directs this heartwarming and mouthwatering piece. Tickets start at $5 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, May 30. Closed captions are available.


Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: Audra McDonald, one of the many Broadway favorites scheduled to appear in Night of Covenant House Stars on Monday evening. Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.