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 3, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
Lulu at the Met
At 9 a.m. ET, yesterday, the Metropolitan Opera went dark for #BlackOutTuesday in order to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter protesters. So it's sharing Tuesday's opera today: Berg's Lulu, starring Marlis Petersen, Susan Graham, Daniel Brenna, Paul Groves, Johan Reuter and Franz Grundheber, conducted by Lothar Koenigs. The production was filmed for the company's Live in HD series in 2015 and is available to watch for free until 6:30 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
Stars in the House: Free Speech: Performing Artists and the Power of the Spoken Word
At 2 p.m. ET, in support of the Black Lives Matter protests and calls for justice and equality, Stars in the House hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley are using their platform to amplify the voices of artists of color and raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Today, Tony winner Karen Olivo, Broadway regulars Andréa Burns, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Ann Harada and Orville Mendoza and other actors of color participate in a live reading called Free Speech: Performing Artists and the Power of the Spoken Word. Watch for free on YouTube though donations are encouraged.
Martha Graham Dance Company: Birth of the Modern: Martha Graham’s Revolution
At 2:30 p.m. ET, the Martha Graham Dance Company presents a double bill of early groundbreaking works that showcase how the choreographer changed dance forever: Heretic from 1929 and Primitive Mysteries from 1931. The recording of the former is from 1930 and stars Graham herself. There are two performances of the latter: a 1964 mounting featuring Yuriko, and a 2017 performance with PeiJu Chien-Pott. Watch for free on the dance company's YouTube channel.
Verdi's La Traviata at the Met
At 5 p.m. ET, it's a bonus opera from the Metropolitan. Ever since the shutdown began, the opera house has been sharing productions from its Live in HD series nightly at 7:30 p.m. But it also presents weekly student streams that debut on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. These operas 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 La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi's romantic tragedy about a courtesan whose chance at true love is thwarted by bourgeois mores. Tony-winning director Michael Mayer staged this 2018 production, which stars Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez and Quinn Kelsey. Watch for free anytime through Friday at 5 p.m. on the Metropolitan Opera's website
POSTPONED MCC LiveLabs: One Acts: Pues Nada
At 5:30 p.m. ET, MCC Theater presents a live reading of Pues Nada by poet and playwright Aziza Barnes, whose critically acclaimed BLKS ran at the venue last year. In this one-act, a pair of Black women working in an East L.A. bar are stuck babysitting a drunk ex-colleague who refuses to leave. The performance stars Samira Wiley from Orange Is the New Black, Karen Pittman (Disgraced, Pipeline), Ito Aghayere (Familiar) and Cherise Boothe, who'll all stick around for a post-show talkback with the playwright and director Whitney White. Watch the performance for free through Saturday evening on MCC Theater's YouTube page.
POSTPONED HERE Arts Center: Send for the Million Men
At 7 p.m. ET, downtown culture hub HERE presents Send for the Million Men, Joseph Silovsky's multimedia exploration of the controversial executions of immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Using animatronics, puppetry and projections, he interweaves their tragic fates with episodes from his own life. Watch for free on HERE's Facebook page.
Folksbiene! Live: Maida Feingold's the Songs of Itzik Manger
At 7:30 p.m. ET, bilingual folk singer Maida Feingold performs a concert of tunes by Itzik Manger, a beloved 20-century Yiddish poet and playwright who riffed on familiar biblical tales. Watch for free on the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene's Facebook page.
Orfeo ed Euridice at the Met
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares its 2009 mounting of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, starring Danielle de Niese, Heidi Grant Murphy and Stephanie Blythe, conducted by James Levine. The production was filmed for the company's Live in HD series and is available to watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
POSTPONED Lincoln Center Dance Week: New York City Ballet's Tribute to Balanchine
At 8 p.m. ET, Lincoln Center at Home continues its online dance festival with New York City Ballet's tribute to its legendary co-founder, choreographer George Balanchine, who created more than 120 pieces for the troupe. Recorded at the venue in 1983, this program is comprised of three Balanchine ballets: Vienna Waltzes set to music by Johann Strauss II, Franz Lehar and Richard Strauss; Mozartiana set to a Tschaikovsky score; and Who Cares? danced to George Gershwin. Watch for free on Lincoln Center's Facebook page.
Amazon Prime subscribers can stream Antoinette Nwandu's Pass Over, an ingenious riff on Waiting for Godot about a pair of Black men rapping on a street corner who are doomed never to leave—at least not alive. This devastating play ran at Lincoln Center Theater in 2018, but this film, directed by Spike Lee, was recorded a year prior at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater and stars Jon Michael Hill (Elementary) and Julian Parker. It's a biting exploration of systemic racism and police brutality that continues to be painfully relevant. Amazon Prime subscribers can watch for free anytime online. If you don't have Amazon Prime, you can get a free seven-day trial.
Notes From the Field
HBO subscribers can stream Notes From the Field, playwright-performer Anna Deavere Smith's searing examination of how racism, poverty, lack of opportunity and inadequate education have created a "school-to-prison pipeline" for so many young Black and brown people. Like her one-woman, multi-character play Fires in the Mirror about the 1991 Crown Heights riots, this solo show is based on real-life interviews as Smith gives voice to students, parents, teachers and administrators grappling with these issues. HBO subscribers can watch for free anytime online. If you don't have HBO, you can get a free seven-day trial.
Lincoln Center Theater: Pipeline
BroadwayHD subscribers can stream the drama Pipeline, Dominique Morisseau's thought-provoking play about a Black inner-city public school teacher (Karen Pittman) fighting to ensure her rage-filled son doesn't become a statistic of the "school-to-prison pipeline." BroadwayHD subscribers can watch for free anytime online. If you don't have BroadwayHD, you can get a free seven-day trial.
The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park: Much Ado About Nothing
There may be no Shakespeare in the Park this season, but you can enjoy one of the series' best productions from the recent past online: last summer's Much Ado About Nothing. Directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon and featuring an all-Black cast led by the breathtaking Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple, Orange Is the New Black) and Grantham Coleman, this is one of my favorite mountings of the Bard's romantic comedy, a production that is often hilarious but also highlights the ongoing battle for equality. Watch for free anytime through Sunday on PBS' website.
Ma-Yi Theater Company: The Romance of Magno Rubio
The venerable Ma-Yi Theater Company shares a 2003 recording of its Obie-winning The Romance of Magno Rubio. Based on a short story, the music-infused play centers on an illiterate Filipino farm worker in California during the Depression, who pins his hopes on a lonely hearts pen pal, a metaphor for the empty promise of the American Dream for many immigrants. Watch for free through Thursday on Ma-Yi's website.
Shakespeare's Globe: The Merry Wives of Windsor
London's Shakespeare's Globe shares a recording of its 2019 mounting of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare's comedy about the clownish Falstaff, who romances two women for their fortunes until they turn the tables on the two-timer. Olivier nominee Bryony Hannah and Sarah Finigan play the clever ladies and Pearce Quigley is Falstaff. Watch for free anytime through Sunday, June 14 on the theatre's YouTube channel.
The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
In honor of Pride Month, the 92nd Street Y shares a recording of The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, writer-performer James Lecesne's one-man play about how the disappearance of a gay teenager impacts a small New Jersey town. Lecesne, who earned an Oscar for his short film Trevor, portrays all the characters in this award winner, which was a hit Off Broadway. Watch for free anytime all month on the 92Y's website though donations are encouraged.
National Theatre: This House
This is the last day to catch the National Theatre's recording of This House, James Graham's gripping examination of Britain's political strife in the '70s. Much as he did for his Tony-nominated play Ink, Graham uses historical events to illuminate current woes, both in the U.K. and the U.S. This play may have been filmed in 2013 but its exploration of polarized politics feels insanely timely. Watch for free through Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
TADA! Youth Theater: The History Mystery
TADA! Youth Theater, NYC's 35-year-old, Drama Desk Award-winning youth company whose alums include Jordan Peele and Kerry Washington, is sharing recordings of its original hour-long musicals for families. Recorded in 2016, The History Mystery focuses on three history-hating students who are magically transported back in time to meet Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and other world-changing figures when they were kids. On their journey they learn many lessons, including how everyone has the power to make a difference. This timely production stars talented tykes from ages 8 to 18 who are members of TADA!'s Resident Youth Ensemble. Watch for free on TADA!'s YouTube channel.
Top image: Samira Wiley in Antigone in Ferguson. Photo by David Andrako.