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 18 from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
National Theatre: Small Island
At 2 p.m. ET, London's National Theatre presents Small Island, Helen Edmundson's acclaimed 2019 stage adaptation of Andrea Levy's novel of the same name, exploring the complicated history between Jamaica and the U.K. through a trio of interconnected stories as the protagonists try to find their way in post-WWII Britain. Directed by Rufus Norris and featuring a diverse cast of more than 40 actors, this three-hour epic is available to watch for free through Thursday, June 25 at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
Ma-Yi Theater Company: My H8 Letter To The Gr8 American Theatre
At 3 p.m. ET, earlier this week, Ma-Yi Theater Company presented a live reading of My H8 Letter To The Gr8 American Theatre, an indictment of racism in the theatre industry by genre-defying iconoclast Diana Oh. Today is your last chance to watch a recording of that event, with screenings at 3 and 8 p.m. ET. Oh, an actor, playwright, composer and truth teller, developed the play at The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group, and this performance stars the same cast that read the show at that venue last year, including Ryan J. Haddad, TL Thompson and Alysia Reiner. Watch for free on Ma-Yi's website.
Justin Vivian Bond: Auntie Glam's Happy Hour
At 5 p.m. ET, groundbreaking trans artist and activist Justin Vivian Bond shares their wit, wisdom and singular song stylings in their weekly "live-screamed" show Auntie Glam's Happy Hour. This week's theme is Diva Pride, and you can watch for free on their website though tips are encouraged.
Virtual Vereen & Friends
At 6 p.m. ET, Pippin Tony winner Ben Vereen headlines an hour-long benefit for Care For the Homeless. Vereen will sing a few tunes and welcome some of his talented pals for speeches and songs, including Wayne Brady, Michael Feinstein, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chita Rivera and Bryan Cranston. In order to get the link to watch, make a donation of any amount, though a $50 minimum is encouraged.
Stratford Festival: King John
At 7 p.m. ET, Ontario's venerable Stratford Festival continues its Shakespeare on Film series with King John, one of the Bard's lesser-known tragedies about an embattled monarch struggling to keep his crown. Canadian stage vet and Orphan Black regular Tom McCamus stars. Watch for free on the fest's YouTube channel. While you're there, be sure to check out Black Like Me: Behind the Stratford Festival Curtain, an illuminating conversation with a panel of Black artists who've worked at the venue about the racism they've experienced in the classical theatre world.
Theater in Quarantine: Topside
At 7 p.m. ET, downtown multihyphenate Joshua William Gelb, known for deconstructing complicated classics such as The Jazz Singer, and Obie winner Scott R. Sheppard perform Topside, based on Donald Barthelme's short story Game about two soldiers hunkered down in a bunker, waiting to hear if they need to turn the key that will change the world. The live event will be followed by a Q&A with Gelb, and then an encore screening at 9 p.m. ET. Watch for free on Gelb's YouTube channel.
Irish Repertory Theatre: YES! Reflections of Molly Bloom
At 7 p.m. ET, Irish Rep presents YES! Reflections of Molly Bloom, Aedín Moloney's solo adaptation of the "Penelope episode" from James Joyce's Ulysses, offering intimate insights into one woman's desires and dreams, with brief musical interludes composed by Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. This monologue play was a hit at the theatre last year, and Moloney reimagined this performance for online viewing. Tickets are free but required in order to get the link; a suggested donation of $25 is encouraged.
Queerly Festival: Desperately Seeking the Exit
At 7 p.m. ET, the Queerly Festival's cavalcade of LGBTQ performances continues with Desperately Seeking the Exit, Peter Michael Marino's riotous solo comedy about the behind-the-scenes drama at his notorious 2007 London flop musical Desperately Seeking Susan. The playwright-performer does the show live from his Chelsea apartment. Tickets are $12.
Songs for Our City
At 7:05 p.m. ET, Broadway Sessions host Ben Cameron is behind the Songs for Our City competition, a week of live-streamed concerts featuring brand-new numbers written by Broadway actors and composers. Tonight, the contest features original tunes by stage performers Lauren Elder (Side Show), Max Sangerman (Smokey Joe's Cafe Off Broadway), Dru Serkes (Jersey Boy) and Ethan Slater, who earned a Tony nomination for his exuberant turn as the title character in the SpongeBob SquarePants musical. Viewers can vote for their favorites online right after the performance, and the finalists will face off on Sunday in front of judges Tituss Burgess, Six creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Tony-nominated songwriter Andrew Lippa and Time Out New York theatre critic Adam Feldman. Watch for free on Times Square Alliance's YouTube channel.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Greenwood
At 7:30 p.m. ET, in honor of Juneteenth, the invaluable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater presents Greenwood, Donald Byrd's powerful piece about the horrendous 1921 Tulsa race massacre. The work premiered last December and, given recent events, feels terribly timely. on Alvin Ailey's YouTube channel.
New York Live Arts: (Re)Live Arts Streaming
At 7:30 p.m. ET, New York Live Arts, Bill T. Jones' adventurous dance complex, releases recordings of past performances every Thursday. Today's edition includes Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company's A Quarreling Pair and Kyle Abraham/A.I.M's The Gettin'. Watch for free on New York Live Arts' website.
The Metropolitan Opera: La Forza del Destino
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares a gem from its vaults: its 1984 mounting of Verdi's La Forza del Destino, starring the legendary Leontyne Price as an ill-fated Spanish noblewoman who loses three of her loved ones before facing her own demise. Conducted by James Levine, the production was filmed for the company's Live in HD series and is available to watch for free for 48 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Iphigénie en Tauride, until 6:30 p.m. today.
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene: Zalmen Mlotek Living Room Concert
At 7:30 p.m. ET, Zalmen Mlotek—the artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which produced Yiddish Fiddler—performs a series of love songs. Even if you don't know Yiddish, their message of hope and connection are easy to understand. Watch for free on Folksbiene's Facebook page.
Stars in the House: Founders of Black Theatre United
At 8 p.m. ET, tonight, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome bona fide Broadway royalty to Stars in the House: Vanessa Williams, Brandon Victor Dixon, LaChanze, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Lillias White. In addition to being award-winning performers, they are co-founders of Black Theatre United, a brand-new coalition of actors, playwrights, directors, designers, producers and other industry folks committed to advancing diversity efforts and inclusionary practices at theatres and educational institutions across the country. Tune in to hear about their plans for helping the industry become more equitable. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are encouraged.
Joe's Pub: Lea DeLaria: Fuck Love
At 8 p.m. ET, in honor of Pride Month, Joe's Pub presents a recording of Lea DeLaria's irreverent cabaret act Fuck Love. Although she became an international star as the quippy Big Boo on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, DeLaria had been a New York stage favorite for years, stealing scenes in revivals of On the Town and The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway, and cracking up audiences with her raw stand-up comedy. Even though this concert, recorded on Valentine's Day 2019, leans into anti-romance, you're sure to fall for her jazzy belting and raunchy humor. Watch for free on Joe's Pub's YouTube channel.
The Brick: LAPA
At 8 p.m. ET, one of Brooklyn's most adventurous theatres, The Brick, presents The Million Underscores' LAPA, which was forced to close in the middle of its run back in March. Better seen than described, this multimedia show plays with language, using visuals, sounds, movement and performance to investigate the intersection of words and meaning. This is your chance to see boundary-pushing, outer-borough performance without having to take the subway! Watch for free on The Brick's YouTube channel though donations to The Okra Project are encouraged.
Muny Magic in Your Home: Beth Leavel
At 9:15 p.m. ET, although after 102 years, the shows won't go on at The Muny this summer, the beloved St. Louis institution is sharing some past performances from its intimate cabaret series. First up is The Drowsy Chaperone Tony winner Beth Leavel, a powerhouse belter who pulls no punch lines. Watch her story-and-song-filled set for free on the Muny's YouTube channel. Note: this performance won't be available after-the-fact.
Scott Siegel's Great American Songbook Concert: Volume 5
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 Jekyll & Hyde Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli, Beautiful Tony nominee Jarrod Spector, Jagged Little Pill's Elizabeth Stanley and Dr. Zhivago's Kelli Barrett. Watch for free on YouTube.
Shakespeare's Globe: A Midsummer Night's Dream
London's Shakespeare's Globe shares a recording of its 2013 mounting of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Bard's beloved romantic comedy about fairies messing with lovesick humans lost in a magical forest. The recently departed artistic director of the company, Dominic Dromgoole, helms this Renaissance staging, which stars Olivier Award winner Michelle Terry and John Light as Titania and Oberon. Watch for free anytime through Sunday, June 28 on the theatre's YouTube channel.
English National Ballet: Song of the Earth
The English National Ballet shares a recording of Song of the Earth, choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan and set to Gustav Mahler's song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, which explores the fragility of life and its constant renewal. This performance was recorded in 2018, and the dancers and singers are accompanied by the English National Ballet Philharmonic. Watch for free anytime through Friday at 2 p.m. on the troupe's YouTube channel.
The Metropolitan Opera: Hansel and Gretel
Ever since the shutdown began, the Metropolitan Opera 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. 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 the Met's 2008 mounting of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, a holiday staple at the venue. Starring Alice Coote and Christine Schäfer, it's an eye-popping, English-language production with oversize cartoon chefs, singing trees and an unforgettable witch's kitchen. Watch for free anytime through Friday at 5 p.m. ET. on the Metropolitan Opera's website.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Ben Vereen.