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, June 24, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
Theater of War Productions: The Oedipus Project
At 1 p.m. ET, Theater of War Productions, a company that uses classical texts to examine contemporary issues, presents a starry reading of scenes from Oedipus, followed by a town hall-style discussion with the audience. Two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Tony winner Jeffrey Wright, Oscar Isaac, John Turturro, David Strathairn and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will perform segments of Sophocles' tragedy (which premiered during a plague that decimated the Athenian population), and then talk about how the play's themes relate to our current pandemic, such as poor leadership during a time of crisis. The performance takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download in advance. Reserve your free ticket on Eventbrite at least an hour in advance. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
Folksbiene! Live: Coming Together in Song with Elmore James
At 1 p.m. ET, Elmore James, who starred in National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene's Soul to Soul which examined the parallels between African-American and Jewish history, presents a concert of numbers made famous by groundbreaking singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. Watch for free on Folksbiene's Facebook page.
English National Ballet: Manon
At 2 p.m. ET, the English National Ballet shares a recording of Manon, choreographed by the troupe's late artistic director Kenneth MacMillan, set to music by Jules Massenet and based on Antoine François Prévost's controversial 18th-century novel about a tragic romance. Watch for free anytime until Friday at 2 p.m. ET on the troupe's YouTube channel.
Linda Lavin and Billy Stritch
At 3 p.m. ET, celebrated jazz pianist and singer Billy Stritch and his Tony-winning BFF/neighbor Linda Lavin present the grand finale of their live online concert series in support of their new album Love Notes. Their friendship, banter and classic tunes always feel incredibly soothing, and we're sad this is the end (for now at least). Watch for free on Lavin's Facebook page.
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 the Met's 2008 mounting of Gaetano Donizetti's Don Pasquale, a romantic comedy about a young couple and a doctor teaching the Scrooge-like title character much-needed lessons about generosity and love. Recorded in 2010, the production stars Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, John Del Carlo and Mariusz Kwiecien, and is conducted by James Levine. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET. on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
MCC LiveLabs: One Acts: When
At 5:30 p.m. ET, MCC Theater presents a live reading of When by C.A. Johnson, whose play All the Natalie Portmans had its run cut short at the venue due to the pandemic. Portia and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy star as a costume drama-loving mother and her more down-to-earth daughter, as they try to find a way to face the real world. Watch the performance on MCC Theater's YouTube page.
The Homebound Project
At 7 p.m. ET, The Homebound Project presents its third edition of world-premiere playlets, and the lineup is stellar. The dozen shorts include Jennifer Carpenter and Tony nominee Thomas Sadoski in a piece by Pulitzer Prize winner John Guare, directed by Jerry Zaks; Hamilton Tony winner Daveed Diggs in a work by C.A. Johnson and Diane Lane in a piece by newly minted Pulitzer winner Michael R. Jackson, directed by Leigh Silverman. The brainchild of playwright Catya McMullen and director Jenna Worsham, this initiative is raising money to support food insecure families during the pandemic. Tickets start at $10 and proceeds go to No Kid Hungry.
Queerly Festival: Blessed Oil and Brown Liquor
At 7 p.m. ET, the Queerly Festival, an annual showcase of cutting-edge LGBTQ artists usually held at FRIGID: New York's Kraine Theatre, goes virtual this year with two and a half weeks of indie performances. Tonight's offering is Blessed Oil and Brown Liquor, a live-streamed solo performance by composer and playwright Germono Toussaint exploring the Black queer journey. Tickets are available to purchase from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
Ballet Hispánico: Sombrerísimo
At 7 p.m. ET, Ballet Hispánico presents Sombrerísimo, choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and inspired by the Surrealist paintings of René Magritte, known for depicting faceless men in bowler hats. Watch for free on the dance company's Facebook page.
HERE Arts Center: Soundstage
At 7 p.m. ET, downtown culture hub HERE presents Soundstage, a live theatre and film hybrid created and performed by Rob Roth alongside his on-screen counterpart, stage and screen star Rebecca Hall. The category-defying work examines the idea of the artistic muse in a surreal world where sound, time, gender and fantasy are fluid. Watch for free on HERE's Facebook page.
Samson et Dalila at the Met
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, based on the eponymous Biblical tale and starring Elina Garanca, Roberto Alagna, Laurent Naouri, Elchin Azizov and Dmitry Belosselskiy, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. The production was filmed for the company's Live in HD series in 2018 and is available to watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Doctor Atomic, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Vanessa Williams on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome stage, screen and pop icon Vanessa Williams to Stars in the House. In addition to sharing stories and hopefully a few songs from her career, including her Tony-nominated turn in Into the Woods, Williams will be joined by NAACP Legal Defense Fund's associate director-counsel Janai Nelson to discuss the ongoing fight against systemic racism. Watch for free on YouTube though donations are encouraged.
Available to Watch All Day
Ping Chong + Company: Undesirable Elements
Since 1992, Ping Chong + Company has produced more than 50 editions of Undesireable Elements, a unique documentary-theatre series that examines different "outsider" groups (Muslims, people with disabilities, refugees, LGBTQ youth, etc.) by having community members share their stories onstage. Two installments are currently available to watch online. Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors is a recording of a 2009 show featuring adult survivors of child sexual abuse; there's also a documentary about the making of the piece. Undesirable Elements: When the Salmon Spoke is a brand-new addition to the series that was developed and recorded remotely. Co-created by the Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission, it features stories from Indigenous communities tied to the "transboundary" rivers shared by northwest British Columbia and southeast Alaska, and how they've been impacted by climate change and other factors. Watch these videos for free on Ping Chong + Company's Vimeo channel.
Lincoln Center Theater: Act One
Lincoln Center Theater shares a recording of Act One, James Lapine's Tony-nominated adaptation of legendary theatre-maker Moss Hart's memoir about how he got into showbiz. The cast includes Tony winners Santino Fontana and Tony Shalhoub, who plays Hart as an older man as well as his longtime collaborator George S. Kaufman. It's a charming, history-filled love letter to the enduring allure of the stage. Watch for free until Friday, July 3 on Lincoln Center's YouTube channel.
Holland Taylor in Ann
PBS presents Ann, Holland Taylor's one-woman bio-play about the late Ann Richards, an outspoken Democrat who served as Governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995. Taylor's compelling portrayal earned her a Tony nomination as best actress. It's an inspiring portrait of a woman who captivated as a politician and as a person. Watch for free until Friday, July 17 on PBS' website.
National Theatre: Small Island
It's your last day to catch National Theatre's Small Island, Helen Edmundson's acclaimed 2019 stage adaptation of Andrea Levy's novel exploring the complicated history between Jamaica and the U.K. through a trio of interconnected stories as the protagonists try to find their way in post-WWII Britain. Directed by Rufus Norris and featuring a diverse cast of more than 40 actors, this three-hour epic is available to watch for free until tomorrow at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
Top image: Vanessa Williams.