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, August 19, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
Theater of War Productions: Frances McDormand and Jesse Eisenberg in Philoctetes and Women of Trachis
At noon ET, Theater of War Productions, a company that uses classical texts to examine contemporary issues, presents a starry reading of scenes from Philoctetes and Women of Trachis, followed by a town hall-style discussion with the audience. Two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg, Frankie Faison and David Zayas will perform scenes from Sophocles' tragedies, and then director-adaptor Bryan Doerries will facilitate a conversation about how the plays' themes relate to the trauma frontline medical workers faced during the pandemic. 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: Tony Perry's The Way I Feel
At 1 p.m. ET, Tony Perry, star of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene's Soul to Soul, which examined the parallels between African-American and Jewish history, presents a concert of songs celebrating hope, peace and cross-cultural connection. Watch for free on Folksbiene's Facebook page.
Actors Theatre of Louisville: The Keep Going Song
At 3 p.m. ET, one of the most acclaimed regional theatres in the country, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, presents a brand-new uplifting musical from The Bengsons, the folky singer-songwriter spouses behind Off-Broadway shows such as Hundred Days and The Lucky Ones. Created during quarantine, The Keep Going Song is an hour-long concert about finding joy, love and inspiration during times of crisis. Tickets are available to purchase from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
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 Bizet's Carmen, with 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.
92Y: Remembering Howard Ashman
At 6 p.m. ET, the 92nd Street Y hosts a discussion about Howard Ashman, the late lyricist who co-created Little Shop of Horrors; Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; and the Disney animated movies The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. To celebrate the recently released Disney+ documentary about his life and legacy, some of his closest friends, family and collaborators gather to recall his genius, including composer Alan Menken; the voice of Belle, Paige O'Hara and the voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson. Watch for free on the 92Y's website though donations are encouraged.
Two River Theater: The Hombres
At 7 p.m. ET, New Jersey's lauded Two River Theater presents a reading of The Hombres, a new class and culture-clash comedy by Tony Meneses. Set in the Garden State, the one-act focuses on a Latino yoga teacher who gets into it with the Latino construction workers outside his studio... but their conflict does not go the way he expects. Annie Tippe (Octet) directs Frankie J. Alvarez, Victor Cruz, Gerardo Rodriguez, Jon Rua and AJ Shively. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the theatre and the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
Ballet Hispánico: Batucada Fantástica
At 7 p.m. ET, Ballet Hispánico, an invaluable NYC-based dance company, shares a recording of Batucada Fantástica, choreographer Vicente Nebrada's colorful evocation of Brazilian Carnival, with eight vibrant solos culminating in a literal dance party. Watch for free on Ballet Hispánico's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Battery Dance Festival
At 7 p.m. ET, for the first time in its 39-year history, downtown's Battery Dance Festival goes virtual, with hour-long programs premiering every evening on YouTube from August 14 to 22. The international series continues tonight with companies from Africa. The video will remain viewable for 10 days. Watch for free on Battery Dance's YouTube channel.
Weathervane Theatre: Heathers
At 7:30 p.m. ET, New Hampshire's Weathervane Theatre presents the pitch-black musical comedy Heathers, which began Off Broadway and spawned a massive Gen Z following. Based on the 1989 Winona Ryder-Christian Slater cult movie of the same name, the show focuses on a quippy teen and her rebel boyfriend who start killing their popular but abusive peers. Weathervane is mounting a hybrid production, with the cast performing the musical live on stage in front of a small in-person audience with many more watching online. Tickets are available from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
Funny Women of a Certain Age
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the seasoned comics in Funny Women of a Certain Age really pack some punch lines. Carole Montgomery and her pals are bawdy broads who've seen it all, and they're willing to talk. Tickets are available from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
The Metropolitan Opera: Eugene Onegin
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Tchaikovsky's romantic tragedy Eugene Onegin, with Peter Mattei as the title character, the object of affection for Anna Netrebko's Tatiana. Elena Maximova, Alexey Dolgov and Štefan Kocán costar in this 2017 mounting. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Francesca da Rimini , until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
The New York Times: Finish the Fight: The Heroes of the Suffrage Movement
If you missed the live premiere of the play Finish the Fight last night, you can watch a recording today. Ming Peiffer marks the centennial of the 19th Amendment by telling the undersung stories of suffragists of color. The New York Times commissioned the piece, which is based on the book Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, written by Veronica Chambers and staffers from the newspaper. Whitney White directs Harriett D. Foy as Mary McLeod Bethune, Zora Howard as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Q'orianka Kilcher as Zitkála-Šá, Leah Lewis as Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and Chelsea Rendon as Jovita Idár, all pioneering feminists who've been whitewashed from history. It's time their accomplishments took center stage. Watch for free on The Times' YouTube channel.
En Garde Arts Uncommon Voices Series: Danny Pudi
For the past few years, En Garde Arts has been showcasing diverse perspectives and fostering new work through its Uncommon Voices series. Today, see excerpts from an autobiographical solo show by TV star Danny Pudi (Community), who was raised by his Polish single mother but resembled his Indian dad. Pudi goes on a journey of self-discovery to find out about the man who abandoned the family decades earlier. Watch for free on All Arts' website.
Metropolitan Opera Stars Live in Concert: Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak
On Sunday, the Metropolitan Opera presented husband-and-wife duo Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak in a live recital, and you can watch a recording through Friday, August 28. The opera stars perform duets and solos from Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, Cavalleria Rusticana, The Merry Widow and other classics, accompanied by a string quintet on an outdoor terrace in Èze, France. Tickets are $20.
Play-PerView: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Play-PerView presented a live reading of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity on Saturday and you can watch a recording through Thursday. Kristoffer Diaz's 2010 play centers on a middle-rank pro wrestler whose chance to become a star involves exploiting cultural stereotypes. The insightful dramedy was a hit for Second Stage Theater a decade ago, where it won Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards for best new play, and this event reunites four members from that production, Usman Ally, Terence Archie, Desmin Borges and Christian Litke, with new addition Justin Kirk. Tickets are $15 and benefit New Dramatists.
Manual Cinema: Frankenstein
Here's a dazzling treat: Throughout August, the multimedia theatre collective Manual Cinema, which combines shadow puppetry and filmic elements, is sharing recordings of one eye-popping show each week. This week's offering is Frankenstein, which stitches together Mary Shelley's memoir with her classic monster tale. Watch for free until Monday, August 24 at 1 p.m. ET on the company's website.
A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical
A bunch of Broadway A-listers, including Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Carolee Carmello, Alex Newell, Jarrod Spector and Drew Gehling, are all suspects in A Killer Party, a brand-new comedic murder mystery musical being released in nine bite-size installments. The final set of episodes drop today, so you'll find out whodunit! Created by Kait Kerrigan, Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen, the show was shot remotely and directed by Marc Bruni. Buy the full season for $13.
Top image: Frances McDormand.