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, October 21, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
The Metropolitan Opera: Don Pasquale
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 Otto Schenk's staging of Don Pasquale, starring Anna Netrebko as Norina, the clever young widow who helps teach John Del Carlo's Scrooge-like title character much-needed lessons about generosity and love. Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien costar in this 2010 mounting. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
New York Theatre Barn: New Works Series
At 7 p.m. ET, for the past 13 years, New York Theatre Barn has showcased musicals in progress in its New Works Series. That initiative has now gone virtual, with 40-minute peeks at two new projects a week. Tonight, catch excerpts from Jamie Floyd and Mêlisa Annis' The King's Wife, about the imagined friendship between King Henry VIII's first two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Subtitled "an Afrofuturist musical," AriDy Nox and Brandon Webster's Metropolis chronicles the adventures of an android-turned-space-time-continuum-anarchist. Watch for free on New York Theatre Barn's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Rosie's Theater Kids: Zoom In: Rise Up!
At 7 p.m. ET, comedian, talk show host and Broadway's biggest fan, Rosie O'Donnell, founded Rosie's Theater Kids to bring musical theatre education to underserved New York City public school students. Tonight she hosts a virtual gala for her nonprofit, featuring appearances by Tony winner BD Wong; James Harkness, Jawan M. Jackson, Matt Manuel, Jelani Remy and Nik Walker from Broadway's Ain't Too Proud-The Life and Times of the Temptations; and dozens of talented tykes from the program. Watch for free on Rosie's Kids' website though donations are encouraged.
City Center: 2020 Fall for Dance Festival
At 7:30 p.m. ET, every autumn, City Center welcomes famous movers and shakers for its Fall for Dance Festival. Of course this 17th annual edition looks a little different: the dancers are still on the venue's storied stage but audiences stream the performances at home. Opening night includes a pair of world-premiere commissions: the solo Morani/Mungu (Black Warrior/Black God) by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's resident choreographer Jamar Roberts examining his identity as a Black man; and Christopher Wheeldon's The Two of Us starring New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns and American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg. Excerpts from Ballet Hispánico's mambo-driven 18+1 and Martha Graham Dance Company's Lamentation round out the program. Tickets are $15 and the recording will be viewable until Sunday, November 1.
The Metropolitan Opera: Così fan tutte
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera's week of operatic comedies continues with Phelim McDermott's eye-popping 2018 mounting of Così fan tutte, which sets Mozart's tantalizing comedy of romance and infidelity on Coney Island in the '50s. Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Ben Bliss and Adam Plachetka star as the young couples, with Tony winner Kelli O’Hara in a supporting role. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, The Merry Widow, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy
At 7:30 p.m. ET, although foreign manipulation of our populace and our elections via social media is no joke, playwright Sarah Gancher mines the phenomenon for dark humor in Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy. Presented by TheaterWorks Hartford and TheatreSquared with an assist from docutheatre masters The Civilians, the play was created specifically for digital consumption and is performed live by Danielle Slavick, Mia Katigbak, Haskell King, Ian Lassiter and Greg Keller, who portray professional internet trolls. Elizabeth Williamson and Jared Mezzocchi codirect. Get ready to ??. Tickets cost (what else?) $20.20.
Goodman Theatre: Death of a Salesman
At 8 p.m. ET, attention must be paid when the Goodman Theatre streams its production of Death of a Salesman, which originated at the lauded Chicago venue before transferring to Broadway where it won the 1999 Tony Award for best revival of a play. The always compelling Brian Dennehy won a Tony for his performance as Willy Loman, the hapless never-was at the center of Arthur Miller's American tragedy. Director Richard Falls and Elizabeth Franz as Loman's devoted wife also won statuettes, and the mounting was preserved on film for Showtime. Watch for free until Sunday on the Goodman's website though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Heroes of the Fourth Turning
At 8 p.m. ET, when Will Arbery's drama Heroes of the Fourth Turning about a Catholic college reunion of conservative intellectuals premiered at Playwrights Horizons last fall, it felt incredibly timely. As Election Day approaches in an increasingly polarized nation, its fly-on-a-Red-State-wall perspective feels even more urgent. Perhaps that's why Slave Play playwright Jeremy O. Harris has decided to produce this virtual remount of the original Off-Broadway production, once again directed by Danya Taymor and performed live by Zoë Winters, Julia McDermott, John Zdrojeski, Jeb Kreager and Michele Pawk. If you missed this unforgettable and eye-opening Pulitzer finalist play, don't make that mistake again. Tickets are free but required to receive the viewing link; donations are encouraged with all proceeds going to NYC theatre workers.
Broadway for Biden: In Our America: A Concert for the Soul of the Nation
At 8 p.m. ET, Tony nominee Liesl Tommy directs a jaw-dropping lineup of performers and politicians in this Broadway for Biden revue, which features a mix of original material, classic Broadway numbers, sneak peeks at Broadway-bound shows and, of course, heartfelt speeches in support of presidential nominee Joe Biden. Contributing writers include Paula Vogel, David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner, Lynn Nottage, John Waters and Robert O'Hara, and Broadway luminaries set to perform or appear include Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Glenn Close, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Laura Benanti, Nathan Lane, Billy Porter, Darren Criss, Renée Elise Goldsberry, George Salazar, Karen Olivo, Chuck Cooper, John Goodman, André De Shields, Phillipa Soo, Victoria Clark, James Monroe Iglehart, David Hyde Pierce, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, BD Wong, Steven Pasquale and the casts of KPOP and Six. Theatre lovers of any political persuasion won't want to miss this, regardless of what you plan to do on Election Day. Watch for free on YouTube though donations are encouraged.
Primary Stages Gala
At 8 p.m. ET, comedian Judy Gold hosts Primary Stages' virtual gala, featuring performances and tributes to the Off-Broadway company by Tootsie Tony winner Santino Fontana, Ragtime lyricist Lynn Ahrens, On the Town's Jay Armstrong Johnson, Frozen's Ciara Renée and other stage vets. Watch for free on Primary Stages' website though donations are encouraged.
Available to Watch All Day
All Arts: Women of Color on Broadway
Back in February, the nonprofit Women of Color on Broadway presented a tribute concert to Tony Award winners Melba Moore and LaChanze at Cooper Union's Great Hall. Starting today, you can watch a recording of that one-night-only event featuring Celia Rose Gooding (Jagged Little Pill), Kimberly Marable (Hadestown), Kuhoo Verma (Octet), Aléna Watters (The Cher Show), Anastacia McCleskey (Waitress), Darlesia Cearcy (Once on This Island) and other BIPOC theatre performers crooning tunes from Hamilton, The Wiz, The Band's Visit and other musicals. Watch for free on All Arts' website.
New York City Ballet: Classic NYCB
New York City Ballet continues its virtual fall season with excerpts from some of the troupe's most prolific dance-makers: Everywhere We Go, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes and Year of the Rabbit by current NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck; Pictures at an Exhibition and Russian Seasons by Alexei Ratmansky; and Mercurial Manoeuvres and Polyphonia by former NYCB resident choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Dancers include Justin Peck, Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns, Abi Stafford, Gonzalo Garcia, Lauren Lovette, Megan Fairchild and Silas Farley. Watch for free until Tuesday, October 20 on NYCB's YouTube channel.
Broadway's Best Shows: This Is Our Youth
Broadway's Best Shows, which presented powerhouse readings of plays such as Love Letters and November in the spring, continues its virtual season with Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth about 48 emotional hours in the lives of three young Manhattanites in the early '80s. Originally produced Off Broadway in 1996 (with a then-unknown Mark Ruffalo!), the play was mounted on Broadway in 2014 with Michael Cera. This time around, Lucas Hedges (who appeared in Lonergan's Waverly Gallery on Broadway and his Oscar-winning movie Manchester by the Sea) headlines a cast that includes Paul Mescal and Grace Van Patten. Lila Neugebauer directs. Tickets start at $5 and proceeds go to The Actors Fund. The recorded performance will remain available to watch until Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
The Public Theater: Forward. Together
If you missed The Public Theater's starry gala on Tuesday evening, you can still watch a recording. Directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, the event included many unforgettable performances, including Jelani Alladin crooning a new Alan Menken tune from the stage adaptation of Disney's Hercules; Oscar Isaac strumming his guitar while singing "Symphony" from Two Gentlemen of Verona; Antonio Banderas and Laura Benanti duetting on a Spanish-language version of "What I Did For Love" from A Chorus Line; Audra McDonald performing "There Will Be A Miracle" from See What I Wanna See; and many charming behind-the-scenes stories from Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Danielle Brooks, John Leguizamo, David Hyde Pierce, Danai Gurira, Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda and others about the art and friendships made at the theatre over the decades. Watch for free until Saturday on The Public Theater's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
St. Ann's Warehouse: Henry IV
Throughout October, Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse presents director Phyllida Lloyd's acclaimed Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy, starring Tony nominee Harriet Walter and an all-female ensemble as inmates mounting the Bard's plays in prison, a framing that provides a fresh perspective on familiar works. All three productions were filmed in front of live audiences in 2016, with handheld and GoPro footage edited in to give them a kinetic feel. The series continues with Henry IV, its two parts condensed into two compelling hours, with Walter as the embattled title King. Watch for free until Thursday on St. Ann's website though donations are encouraged.
Red Bull Theater: Keene
NYC's Red Bull Theater, known for reinvigorating classics, continues its Othello-centric season with Anchuli Felicia King's Keene, about a racially charged conflict between grad students, one of whom is writing his dissertation on Ira Aldridge, the first Black man to play Shakespeare's Moor. American Shakespeare Center's Ethan McSweeny directed the reading, which was presented live on Monday night. The Great Society's Grantham Coleman, Paul Gross, Carol Halstead, John Harrell, Chris Johnston, Sam Lilja, Amelia Pedlow, Sam Saint Ours, Sarah Suzuki and Sara Topham star. Watch for free until Friday on Red Bull's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Top image: Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz in the Goodman Theatre's 1998 production of Death of a Salesman. Photo by Eric Y. Exit.