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, June 4, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
National Theatre: Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus
At 2 p.m. ET, London's National Theatre presents Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston (the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Betrayal on Broadway), who earned a 2014 Olivier nomination for his powerful turn in the title role, a Roman general turned politician who's brought down by his principled bluntness, corrupt colleagues and an easily manipulated populace. Watch for free through Thursday, June 11 at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
Variety Thursday on Stars in the House
At 2 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome Ronald Dennis and Devanand Janki to Stars in the House. Dennis originated the role of Richie in A Chorus Line, the exuberant Black dancer who sings "Gimme the Ball." Janki is a director and choreographer (Zanna, Don't!) as well as the founder and artistic director of Live & In Color, which develops new work for the stage that promotes and celebrates diversity. This twice daily show benefits the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and you can watch for free on YouTube.
Justin Vivian Bond
At 5 p.m. ET, ever since the shutdown began, groundbreaking trans artist and activist Justin Vivian Bond has shared their wit, wisdom and singular song stylings in weekly "live-screamed" performances. This edition will focus on the ongoing fight for racial equality and donations benefit the activist org Black and Pink. Watch for free on their website.
Apollo Theater Benefit: Let's Stay (In This) Together
At 7:30 p.m. ET, Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater has launched the careers of countless Black performers over its nine decades. Tonight, a starry list of artists are showing their love for the landmark venue by participating in a virtual benefit. The lineup includes Dionne Warwick, Gary Clark Jr., Doug E. Fresh, Teddy Riley, Kool & the Gang, "Captain" Kirk Douglas of The Roots, Roy Wood Jr., Keb' Mo', Ziggy Marley, Vernon Reid from Living Colour and many others. Watch for free on the Apollo's website though donations are encouraged.
Tosca at the Met
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares its 1978 mounting of Puccini's Tosca, starring Shirley Verrett, Luciano Pavarotti and Cornell MacNeil, conducted by James Conlon. 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. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, until 6:30 p.m. today.
Lincoln Center Dance Week: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
At 8 p.m. ET, Lincoln Center at Home continues its online dance festival with four works by the invaluable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: the uplifting Revelations by the troupe's founder danced to spirituals, gospel songs and blues; Wayne McGregor's Chroma set the songs by The White Stripes; Ronald K. Brown's Grace with music by Duke Ellington, Roy Davis and Fela Kuti; and Robert Battle's acrobatic Takademe. Watch for free on Lincoln Center's Facebook page.
Mary Wilson on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome Mary Wilson from The Supremes. The celebrated singer will share stories about rising in the music business during the Jim Crow era, her involvement in the civil rights movement and how the fight for equality continues today. This twice daily show benefits the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and you can watch for free on YouTube.
Beyond the Shelter - An Interactive Pride Fundraiser
At 8 p.m. ET, New Alternatives, a nonprofit that works with homeless LGBTQ youth, is throwing a benefit in honor of Pride Month. Many stage stars will be performing, including Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Alex Newell (Once on This Island, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), Lauren Patten and Elizabeth Stanley (Jagged Little Pill), Mykal Kilgore (Encores!'s Songs for a New World) and Christian Dante White (My Fair Lady). Watch for free on New Alternatives' Facebook page though donations are encouraged.
Ben Cameron's Broadway Sessions Black Lives Matter Fundraiser
At 8:30 p.m. ET, for almost a decade, erstwhile Broadway baby Ben Sessions has been spotlighting stage stars at his weekly Broadway Sessions performances. Tonight he brings the show online with a concert showcasing Black Broadway performers in support organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Black Visions Collective and Color of Change. The lineup includes Antoine L. Smith (The Color Purple, MJ the Musical), Warren Egypt Franklin (Hamilton), Ari Groover (Tina), Angela Birchett (The Color Purple), Douglas Lyons (Beautiful) and Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots). Watch for free on YouTube though donations are encouraged.
Available to Watch All Day
Scott Siegel's Great American Songbook Concert: Volume 4
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. Today's lineup includes a cavalcade of Broadway stars, including Tony nominees Tom Wopat, Kerry Butler, Beth Malone and Stephanie D'Abruzzo, as well as Elizabeth Stanley, Lesli Margherita and Lisa Howard. Watch for free on YouTube.
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, 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 in recent years 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.
Verdi's La Traviata at the Met
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 titles 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
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 tonight 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.
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: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Revelations. Photo by Bill Hebert.