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, Thursday, October 29, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
Theater of War Productions: Philoctetes and Women of Trachis
At noon ET, Theater of War Productions, a company that uses classical texts to examine contemporary issues, presents a reading of scenes from Philoctetes and Women of Trachis, followed by a town hall-style discussion with the audience. Andrea Patterson, David Zayas, Frankie Faison and Nyasha Hatendi will perform scenes from Sophocles' tragedies, and then director-adapter Bryan Doerries will facilitate a conversation about how the plays' themes relate to the trauma frontline medical workers are facing during the pandemic. Tickets are required to receive the free viewing link. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
MCC Theater: ¡Gárgola!
At 5:30 p.m. ET, MCC Theater launches a new season of its LiveLabs: One Acts series with ¡Gárgola!, Omar Vélez Meléndez's new drama about a supernatural happening in rural Puerto Rico. Cristina Angeles directs an all-Latinx cast: Vélez Meléndez, Willie Denton, Maricelis Galanes, José Eugenio Hernández, Beatriz Miranda, Sophia Ramos and Cristina Soler Tickets are $7 and a talkback follows.
Anika Noni Rose on Classic Conversations
At 6 p.m. ET, Classic Stage Company continues its Classic Conversations with a chat between artistic director John Doyle and Caroline, or Change Tony winner Anika Noni Rose, who starred in the theatre's acclaimed revival of Carmen Jones in 2018. Watch for free on Classic Stage Company's Facebook page.
Karen, I Said
At 6 p.m. ET, writer, performer and TDF Stages contributor, Eliza Bent, explores the phenomenon of white wokeness with wit and bite in her solo show Karen, I Said, directed by Tara Ahmedinejad. Tickets start at $5 and a portion of the proceeds go to the Black LGBTQ org Brave Space Alliance.
The New Group: Aunt Dan and Lemon
At 7 p.m. ET, The New Group presents a live reading of Wallace Shawn's unforgettable Aunt Dan and Lemon, about an inappropriate relationship between an adult and a child and the shocking allure of cruelty. This performance reunites the cast of the award-winning 2003 Off-Broadway production, headlined by Kristen Johnston and Lili Taylor in the title roles, alongside Marcia Stephanie Blake, Liam Craig, Isaach De Bankole, Melissa Errico, Carlos Leon, Emily Cass McDonnell, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Maulik Pancholy, Stephen Park and Bill Sage. Tickets are $25; a recording will be viewable until Sunday, November 29.
Irish Repertory Theatre: A Touch of the Poet
At 7 p.m. ET, Off Broadway's intrepid Irish Rep presents its digital take on Eugene O'Neill's compelling immigrant drama A Touch of the Poet, featuring Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli as Con, an Irish-American inn owner near Boston in 1828, clinging to a gentlemanly past that never was. Ciarán O’Reilly directs a cast that includes Ciaran Byrne, Kate Forbes and Mary McCann. Tickets are free but required to receive the viewing link; a $25 donation is suggested.
Scott Siegel's Great American Songbook Concert: Volume 13
At 7 p.m. ET, Scott Siegel has been producing starry cabaret concerts at Town Hall and other storied venues for years. Now he brings his talent for assembling crackerjack crooners to YouTube. This edition's lineup includes Tony nominee Emily Skinner, Girl From the North Country's Luba Mason, Phantom favorite Ali Ewoldt, seasoned second banana Eddie Korbich and Groundhog Day's Rebecca Faulkenberry. Watch for free on YouTube.
Shakin' the Blues Away: A Virtual Gala Concert for Goodspeed
At 7:30 p.m. ET, musical theatre favorites who've graced the stage of Goodspeed Opera House come together for a song-and-dance-filled virtual benefit. Enjoy uplifting performances by James Snyder, Rashidra Scott, Alysha Umphress, Gizel Jiménez, Klea Blackhurst, Nicholas Ward, Bryan Thomas Hunt, Kelly Sheehan and Troy Anthony in support of this Connecticut gem. Tickets are $25 but TDF members get a discount. The recording will be viewable until Thursday, November 5.
The Metropolitan Opera: Nixon in China
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera continues its week of Election Day-themed productions with Nixon in China, John Adams' examination of President Nixon's controversial 1972 visit with Chairman Mao in Beijing. This 2011 mounting was staged by Peter Sellars and choreographed by Mark Morris, with James Maddalena as Nixon and Robert Brubaker as Mao. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Simon Boccanegra, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
New York City Ballet: Festival of New Choreography
At 8 p.m. ET, New York City Ballet wraps up its digital fall season with five nights of world premieres performed at different locations around the city and filmed by director Ezra Hurwitz. Tonight, Andrea Muller leans in to her Latina heritage with new song, set to music by Chilean songwriter Víctor Jara and danced by NYCB soloists Harrison Coll, Unity Phelan, Indiana Woodward and Sebastian Villarini-Velez. Watch for free indefinitely on NYCB's YouTube channel.
Broadway's Best Shows: Race
At 8 p.m. ET, Broadway's Best Shows, which presented powerhouse readings of plays such as Love Letters and November in the spring, continues its virtual season with David Mamet's provocative Race, about three lawyers defending a wealthy white executive accused of raping a Black woman. As one of the attorneys and the defendant, respectively, Tony nominees David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas reprise the roles they originated in the drama's 2009 Broadway premiere. Modern Family's Ed O'Neill and Alicia Stith round out the morally malleable legal team. Phylicia Rashad directs this conversation starter. Tickets start at $5 and proceeds go to The Actors Fund. The recorded performance will be viewable until Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
I Put a Spell on You
At 8 p.m. ET, for years, Broadway scene-stealer Jay Armstrong Johnson (Hands on a Hardbody, On the Town) has been resurrecting the enchanting Sanderson Sisters from the cult movie Hocus Pocus for an in-person Halloween extravaganza. This year the concert goes online, with Johnson (in the Bette Midler role) and his sorceress siblings Allison Robinson and Amanda Williams Ware recruiting some of pop culture's coolest villains to ensure the holiday's a real scream. Expect bewitching over-the-top numbers from Broadway favorites such as Gavin Creel, Drew Gehling, Todrick Hall, Robyn Hurder, Eva Noblezada and Will Swenson, and drag icons Bob The Drag Queen and Alexis Michelle. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are encouraged. The recording will be viewable until Wednesday, November 4.
City Lyric Opera: The Threepenny Opera
At 8 p.m. ET, City Lyric Opera premieres a modern-day digital take on Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's groundbreaking The Threepenny Opera offering a timely critique of capitalism along with iconic songs such as "Mack the Knife" and "Pirate Jenny." Presented in two parts, the production was filmed during quarantine but this is no disconnected Zoom piece. The trailer shows how technology was used to give the sense of actors playing together on an actual stage, and the performance fuses prerecorded and live elements. Part I premieres tonight, with part II launching tomorrow. Tickets start at $12 per part but TDF members get a discount.
Vineyard Theatre: Lessons in Survival Live Open Rehearsal
At 8:30 p.m. ET, Off Broadway's invaluable Vineyard Theatre continues its fascinating Lessons in Survival project, featuring a collective of 40 theatre artists sharing historic conversations, interviews and speeches about race by listening to the original speakers in an earpiece while repeating their words verbatim. Conceived by actors Marin Ireland, Peter Mark Kendall and Reggie D. White and director Tyler Thomas, the series presents an open rehearsal tonight, giving viewers a peek at how these performances are created. Helen Cespedes, Kalyne Coleman, Nicole Lewis, Kristolyn Lloyd, Peter Mark Kendall, Joe Morton and Keith Randolph Smith explore speeches by activist and actor Paul Robeson in 1960 and civil rights leader and US Congressman John Lewis in 1963; Sarah Keys Evans in 2019, who refused to give up her seat on a bus three years before Rosa Parks; and a conversation between poets Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez in 2001. Tickets start at $5.
Act Out: Vote 2020
At 9 p.m. ET, even if you've cast your ballot, you won't want to miss this evening of stories and songs aimed at encouraging audiences to vote. An impressive array of writers, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage; Tony winners David Henry Hwang and Lisa Kron; and Tony nominees Danai Gurira, Tarell Alvin McCraney and Heidi Schreck contribute vignettes performed by Yvette Nicole Brown, Ryan J. Haddad, Tonia Jo Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Lloyd Knight, Sandra Oh, DeLanna Studi and Ephraim Skyes. Directors include Tony winner Stephen Daldry, Saheem Ali, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Steve H. Broadnax III, Lila Neugebauer, Leigh Silverman and Whitney White, plus choreography by Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon. Watch for free on YouTube.
The Metropolitan Opera: Rusalka
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 Rusalka, Antonín Dvorák's tragic Little Mermaid-style fable. Soprano Kristine Opalais, tenor Brandon Jovanovich and Eric Owens (Porgy and Bess) star in Mary Zimmerman's acclaimed 2017 mounting. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
Signature Theatre: The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World Reunion Reading
Four years ago, Off Broadway's lauded Signature Theatre revived Suzan-Lori Parks' The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead, a response to the murders of unarmed Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement. Sadly, the play's themes feel even more urgent now, which is why the theatre reunited the cast earlier this week, and the recording is viewable until Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Lileana Blain-Cruz once again directs William Demeritt, Patrena Murray, Reynaldo Piniella, Julian Rozzell, Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole, David Ryan Smith, Daniel J. Watts, Jamar Williams and Amelia Workman in this poetic evocation of a never-ending cycle of racism and violence as a Black man dies over and over and over. Tickets are required to receive the free viewing link.
George Street Playhouse: Conscience
New Jersey's George Street Playhouse presents Conscience about US Senator Margaret Chase, who heroically denounced McCarthyism in her 1950 "Declaration of Conscience" speech. Written by Memphis Tony winner Joe DiPietro, this comic drama was running at the New Brunswick theatre when the shutdown hit. Director David Saint reunites castmates Mark Junek, Lee Sellars, Cathryn Wake and Tony winner Harriet Harris as the courageous Chase for this virtual production. Tickets are pay-what-you-wish but a $25 donation is suggested. A recording is viewable until Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.
City Center: 2020 Fall for Dance Festival
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 stage but audiences stream the performances at home. The second program includes a pair of world-premiere commissions: tap great Dormeshia performing Lady Swings the Blues, a tribute to the legacy of Black women in dance; and Kyle Abraham's titled to be seen danced by American Theatre Ballet principal Calvin Royal III. Joseph Gordon and Adrian Danchig-Waring performing the male duet from Concerto Six Twenty-Two; and Ashley Bouder, Tiler Peck and Brittany Pollack dancing excerpts from George Balanchine's Who Cares? round out the evening. Tickets are $15 and the recording is viewable until Sunday.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Amanda Williams Ware, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Robinson in I Put a Spell on You. Photo by Roberto Araujo.