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, September 24, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
Bristol Old Vic: Romantics Anonymous
At 2:30 p.m. ET, the UK's Bristol Old Vic presents Romantics Anonymous, performed live on stage to an empty theatre and streamed to an at-home audience. Based on the French film Les Émotifs Anonymes, this charming musical chronicles the unlikely love story between a painfully shy sweets maker and her harried chocolate factory boss. Emma Rice, who helmed Brief Encounter on Broadway, penned the book and directs this confection, which features songs by Christopher Dimond and Michael Kooman. And since the cast and crew have been quarantining for weeks, no social distancing is required. There will be singing, dancing and kissing! Tickets are £21, approximately $27.
Tonya Pinkins on Classic Conversations
At 6 p.m. ET, Classic Stage Company continues its Classic Conversations with a chat between artistic director John Doyle and Tony-winning performer, author and activist Tonya Pinkins, who had a public parting of the ways with the theatre in 2015 over a production of Mother Courage (admittedly with a different leader at the helm). In addition to being a fabulous talent—her Broadway credits include Jelly's Last Jam and Caroline, or Change, and she just directed her first movie—Pinkins has been speaking up about systemic racism in the theatre industry for years. She does not hold back, so this is guaranteed to be an urgent and insightful discussion. 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. Reserve your free ticket to receive the viewing link; a $10 donation is suggested with proceeds going to the Black LGBTQ org Brave Space Alliance.
The Billie Holiday Theatre: 12 Angry Men...And Women: The Weight of the Wait
At 7 p.m. ET, Brooklyn's venerable Billie Holiday Theatre, which has been showcasing Black artists since 1972, presents an encore screening of 12 Angry Men...And Women: The Weight of the Wait. A revival of a 2015 production based on the nonfiction book 12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today, the show was recorded earlier this month in front of Brooklyn's Black Lives Matter mural and features Wendell Pierce, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Lisa Arrindell, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Billy Eugene Jones sharing harrowing real-life stories of the policing of Black bodies. The evening kicks off with a live discussion with the cast and Black cultural leaders from around the globe; the performance begins at 8 p.m. ET and you can watch both for free on the theatre's Facebook page.
Kiki & Herb: Seeking Asylum!
At 7 p.m. ET, artist, author and activist Justin Vivian Bond first came to NYC fame as the sloppier half of Kiki & Herb, a satirical never-was cabaret duo with Kenny Mellman at the piano. Their wild renditions of pop songs and Kiki's boozy no-holds-barred banter made them darlings of the downtown performance scene, and eventually they landed on Broadway. After a hiatus, they reunited at Joe's Pub in 2016 for Seeking Asylum!, and the venue's sharing a recording of that sold-out run. Watch for free until Thursday, November 5 on Joe's Pub's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Radio Free Birdland: Paulo Szot
At 7 p.m. ET, midtown jazz haunt Birdland presents Paulo Szot in concert. The dreamy Brazilian baritone won a 2008 Tony Award for his Broadway debut in South Pacific, but he was already a world-renowned opera star. For this intimate set, he'll focus on American Songbook and Broadway standards, as well as songs from his homeland, with the inimitable Billy Stritch accompanying him on piano. Tickets are $20.
Irish Repertory Theatre: Belfast Blues
At 7 p.m. ET, Off Broadway's intrepid Irish Rep presents Belfast Blues, Geraldine Hughes' touching autobiographical solo show about growing up in Ireland during The Troubles in the '80s and how acting offered her a way out. After touring with this very personal play for more than a decade, Hughes, whose Broadway credits include Jerusalem and Harry Potter, did a final engagement at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast last year. This never-before-seen video comes from that run. Tickets are free but required to receive the viewing link; a $25 donation is suggested.
The Metropolitan Opera: Madama Butterfly
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera's week of Puccini favorites continues with Madama Butterfly, his beloved tragedy about a young geisha (Patricia Racette) abandoned by her lover, a callous American naval officer (Marcello Giordani). Anthony Minghella staged this 2009 production. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, La Fille du Régiment, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
PTP/NYC: Julius Caesar
At 7:30 p.m. ET, PTP/NYC, known for its insightful mountings of politically charged plays, kicks off its virtual season with a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar about how the assassination of the Roman leader led to the downfall of the republic. Directed by co-artistic director Cheryl Faraone, who's also a professor of theatre at Middlebury College, the production features all women and nonbinary students from the institution. Watch for free until Sunday on the troupe's YouTube channel but donations are encouraged.
Bette Davis Ain't for Sissies
At 7:30 p.m. ET, actress and playwright Jessica Sherr channels Hollywood icon Bette Davis in this illuminating solo show about her battles in the male-dominated film industry. Karen Carpenter directs this performance, which is performed live online. Tickets are available to purchase from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
Bristol Riverside Theatre: Mental Amusements
At 7:30 p.m. ET, mentalist Vinny DePont blows your mind virtually with this interactive show filled with psychological tricks and illusions. Spectator tickets are $35 but for $50 you become part of the act.
Black Lives, Black Words International Project: Plays for the People: The Immortal Goats
At 8 p.m. ET, Black Lives, Black Words International Project presents The Immortal Goats, Idris Goodwin's cutting comedy about a group of Black leaders tasked with deciding who deserves to be immortalized in stone to replace the fallen statues of problematic figures. Tickets start at $10.
Alison Arngrim in Confessions of a Prairie Terror
At 8 p.m. ET, Alison Arngrim, better known as the awesomely obnoxious Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, presents a streamlined version of her uproarious stage memoir Confessions of a Prairie Terror. A seasoned stand-up comic in addition to her acting work, Arngrim shares the behind-the-scenes scoop on the beloved TV series she literally grew up on. Tickets are $10.
Birthday Celebration on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley throw a 20th birthday party for their daughter, Juli, an incredibly talented makeup artist, on Stars in the House. The guest list for the shindig is top secret, but many of the family's famous friends are sure to pop by. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley: Pandora
At 9 p.m. ET, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents a reading of Pandora, a new play by Laurel Ollstein about an adult woman who magically materializes with no notion of how the world works. Giovanna Sardelli directs Katy Sullivan (Cost of Living) in the title role. Register to receive the free viewing link; the recording is available through Monday, September 28 at 5 p.m. ET.
Barrington Stage Company: Three Viewings
Pittsfield, Massachusetts' Barrington Stage Company presents Three Viewings, Jeffrey Hatcher's darkly comic trio of tales set in a Midwestern funeral parlor. That '70s Show costars Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith reunite for this virtual performance, alongside Angel Desai. Watch until Sunday at 5 p.m. ET by making a donation of $25 or more.
The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata
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 La Traviata, Verdi's romantic tragedy about a courtesan whose chance at true love is thwarted by bourgeois mores. Tony-winning director Michael Mayer helmed this 2018 mounting, which stars Diana Damrau and Juan Diego Flórez as the ill-fated lovers, and Quinn Kelsey as his domineering father. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
Short North Stage: Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly
Columbus, Ohio's Short North Stage presents When Pigs Fly, the late Howard Crabtree's hilarious musical revue, which was an Off-Broadway smash in the '90s. A costume designer by trade, Crabtree was inspired to create this over-the-top spectacle featuring songs (by Mark Waldrop and Dick Gallagher), sketches and outrageous styles thanks to a high school counselor who told him he'd make it in show business "when pigs fly." Guess who got the last laugh? The audience! RuPaul's Drag Race alum Nina West guest stars. Tickets are available from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
Actors Theatre of Louisville: COVID-Classics: One-Act Plays for the Age of Quarantine
One of the most acclaimed regional theatres in the country, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, presents five classic shorts by Guillaume Apollinaire, Anton Chekhov, Luigi Pirandello, August Strindberg and Thucydides, reimagined for our plagued times. Robert Barry Fleminga directs this poignant 45-minute program. Tickets are available to purchase from the theatre but TDF members get a discount.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Kiki & Herb at Joe's Pub.