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, August 20, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
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.
What's Next for Broadway?
At 4 p.m. ET, if you're as anxious to hear about the future of in-person theatre in NYC as we are, make time for this panel organized by the National Institute of Social Sciences. Tony winners Nikki M. James and Brian Stokes Mitchell, who's also the chairman of The Actors Fund; Phil Birsh, president and CEO of Playbill; and Princeton theatre professor Stacy E. Wolf will discuss when Broadway could reopen and what it might look like. Register in advance to receive the free Zoom link.
Lookingglass Theatre Company: Eastland: An Original Musical
At 6 p.m. ET, Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company shares a recording of Eastland: An Original Musical about the Eastland disaster in 1915, when 844 people lost their lives in a tragic boat accident. After the screening, playwright Andrew White and co-composer Andre Pluess will talk about the tragedy and what inspired them to explore it on stage. Watch for free for 24 hours on Lookingglass' website though donations are encouraged.
Arts Brookfield: Theatre for One: Here We Are
At 6 p.m. ET, let me start by saying that tonight's performances are already sold out. That's exactly why I'm telling you about it today, so you can get on the email list to snag no-cost tickets to next Thursday's batch of intimate micro-plays performed online for an audience of one. An exciting lineup of playwrights—including Jaclyn Backhaus (Men on Boats), Lydia R. Diamond (Toni Stone), Regina Taylor and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage—crafted these shorts, which examine the current state of the world, including the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests and the We See You White American Theatre movement. Each playlet is performed for one person at a time, resulting in a singular experience. Free tickets are released every Monday at 10 a.m. for the following Thursday through September 24.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Shelter
At 7 p.m. ET, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater shares the incredibly timely Shelter, choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's searing work exploring the challenges of being homeless. Set to percussion and spoken word, it's a plea for compassion as well as an indictment of any society that lets people fall through its cracks. Watch for free until Thursday, August 27 on the troupe's YouTube channel.
At 7 p.m. ET, the Obie Award-winning Black theatre collective Harlem9 presents the 10th annual edition of its signature series 48Hours in...™Harlem. In the past, participating writers, directors and actors had 48 hours to conceive, rehearse and mount a half dozen plays, each inspired by a specific African-American classic. This year they got 48 hours to create the pieces, and 48 more to rehearse, perform and film them. The playwrights are Keith Josef Adkins, Brittany K. Allen, Tracey Conyer Lee, Nadine Mozon, Jeremy O'Brian and L. Trey Wilson; the directors are Marjuan Canady, nicHi douglas, Raja Feather Kelly, Malika Oyetimein, Logan Pitts and Dominique Rider. The 18 actors bringing their pieces to life inclulde A Strange Loop star Larry Owens, Toni Stone Obie winner April Matthis and Off-Broadway vet David Ryan Smith. Tickets start at $10.
Virtual Pillow: Tero Saarinen Company's Borrowed Light
At 7 p.m. ET, the Berkshires' lauded Jacob's Pillow continues its virtual summer season with Tero Saarinen Company's Borrowed Light, inspired by the evocative music and dance of the 18th and 19th-century religious sect the Shakers. This performance was filmed at the 2012 festival, and features singers from The Boston Camerata. Watch for free on Jacob's Pillow'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 North America, including Dancing Wheels Company from the US, Delfos Contemporary Dance Company from Mexico and Kaeja D'Dance from Canada. The video will remain viewable for 10 days. Watch for free on Battery Dance's YouTube channel.
Radio Free Birdland: Natalie Douglas: Singin' in the Wire
At 7 p.m. ET, midtown jazz haunt Birdland presents cabaret legend Natalie Douglas in concert. The singer has performed at Carnegie Hall, Café Carlyle, The Town Hall, Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center and had a popular monthly residency at Birdland back when in-person performances were happening. Three cameras capture the set, a combination of old-school songs, pop classics and Douglas' charming banter with her music director Brian Nash. Tickets are $20.
The Metropolitan Opera: Un Ballo in Maschera
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares a gem from its vaults: Piero Faggioni's 1991 mounting of Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera , with Luciano Pavarotti as a ruler in love with his best friend's wife. Aprile Millo, Leo Nucci and Florence Quivar costar. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Eugene Onegin, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: Paradise Lost
At 7:30 p.m. ET, although the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival canceled its in-person season, the beloved upstate institution is presenting a series of live online readings inspired by classical theatre. This week's offering is Paradise Lost, Erin Shields über-contemporary riff on John Milton's epic poem. Former New York Magazine theatre critic Sara Holdren directs a cast that includes Nance Williamson as Satan and Jess Barbagallo as God. Register in order to receive the free viewing link though donations are encouraged.
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome musical theatre legends Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty to Stars in the House. The Tony-winning songwriting team behind Ragtime, Rocky, Anastasia and Seussical discuss their three-and-a-half-decade collaboration and hopefully share the scoop on the upcoming movie adaptation of one of their most beloved shows, Once on This Island. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Black Lives, Black Words International Project: Plays for the People: Buffafly Precinct
At 8 p.m. ET, Black Lives, Black Words International Project, an activist theatre initiative that produces shows by Black playwrights, presents Buffafly Precinct, a passionate new piece written and directed by Shá Cage, about two young Black girls carrying dark secrets and a jar of butterflies who get caught up George Floyd's murder and its aftermath. Ashe Jafaaru, Ava Saunders and Javari Horne star. Tickets are $17.
A Night of Conversation with Actor John Leguizamo
At 8 p.m. ET, although this event is being billed as a night of conversation with John Leguizamo, we know that when this Tony-winning funnyman starts talking it always feels like a show! The hilarious writer-performer will chat about his solo stage romps (Latin History for Morons, Freak, Sexaholix) and his film and TV career as a fundraiser for the nonprofit media company Shine Global. Spectators can even ask questions. Tickets are $20.
TRLive!: James Jackson, Jr.
At 8 p.m. ET, 42nd Street's nonprofit complex Theatre Row continues its live concert series with James Jackson, Jr., a performance artist and indie cabaret crooner known for his powerhouse pipes and quick wit, as well as his dynamic performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons last season. Marvel at his fabulosity for free on Theatre Row's Facebook page though donations are encouraged.
The Muny: Summer Variety Hour
At 9:15 p.m. ET, after 102 years, the shows won't go on at The Muny this summer. But tonight, the beloved St. Louis institution wraps up its weekly online variety show with production numbers from The Muny's mountings of Gypsy, A Chorus Line, Cinderella, Guys and Dolls, Meet Me in St. Louis, Thoroughly Modern Millie and its Centennial Gala: An Evening with the Stars; a duet by Broadway spouses Erin Dilly and Stephen R. Buntrock; and dance pieces choreographed by Richard Yoder and Jack Sippel. Watch for free on the Muny's YouTube channel.
The Metropolitan Opera: Carmen
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 for the company's Live in HD series 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.
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 on Tuesday, 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.
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 dropped this week, 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: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.