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, November 19 from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.
Club Cumming: Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene
At 2 p.m. ET, Alan Cumming, who hosted downtown divas at his eponymous East Village club pre-COVID, is now sharing their fabulousness online. Today, internationally renowned German chanteuse Ute Lemper stars in Rendezvous with Marlene, a celebration of Marlene Dietrich inspired by a three-hour conversation she had with the Hollywood icon back in 1988. Directed by Daniel Nardicio as a cinematic cabaret, the performance features some of Dietrich's signature numbers as well as secrets divulged during that long-ago chat. Tickets are $25.
Primary Stages: The Night Watcher
At 2 and 8 p.m. ET, Primary Stages continues its virtual season with a digital reimagining of Charlayne Woodard's autobiographical solo show The Night Watcher, about how she's served as a maternal figure to many beloved folks in her life. A Tony nominee for Ain't Misbehavin' and a star of TV's Pose, Woodard originally performed this show at Primary Stages in 2009. It's a wise and empathetic exploration of what it means to mother. Tickets start at $35.
Broadway's Great American Songbook: Karen Mason
At 2:30 p.m. ET, The York Theatre Company continues its Broadway's Great American Songbook cabaret series with Karen Mason, whose 40-year stage career includes tuneful turns in Hairspray, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Mamma Mia and the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes 'Round, in which she delivered a thrilling take on "Colored Lights." We suspect that will be one of her soaring songs today! Michael Feinstein hosts this intimate concert. Tickets are $20.
Theater of War Productions: Philoctetes and Women of Trachis
At 7 p.m. 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. Two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Marjolaine Goldsmith, 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.
Irish Repertory Theatre: Bill Irwin in On Beckett/In Screen
At 7 p.m. ET, the intrepid Irish Rep presents Tony winner Bill Irwin in a virtual reimagining of his hit solo show On Beckett. Once again, the acclaimed clown takes the stage at the Chelsea theatre to explore the words and work of the groundbreaking Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. Only this time, no one is in the audience, which makes this meditation on Beckett's themes of loneliness, loss and decay even more haunting. Reservations are required to receive the free viewing link but a $25 donation is suggested.
Birdland: Nikki Renée Daniels in Concert
At 7 p.m. ET, midtown jazz haunt Birdland presents Nikki Renée Daniels in concert. A stage vet whose roles include Clara in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon and Angelica Schuyler in the Chicago production of Hamilton, she was performing in the gender-swapped Broadway revival of Company when the shutdown hit. Her set includes signature songs from the parts she's played as well as personal stories about being a performer and mother during this challenging time. Tickets are $20.
Live with Carnegie Hall: Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg
On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, Carnegie Hall celebrates Brooklyn's own Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist, fighter for justice and devoted opera fan. Grammy winner Isabel Leonard hosts the tribute, featuring performances by opera stars Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves and Patrice Michaels and an interview with the late Supreme Court Justice's children. Watch for free on Carnegie Hall's YouTube channel.
The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents 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 ill-fated lovers, and Quinn Kelsey as his disapproving father. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Rusalka, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Broadway's Best Shows: Alan Cumming in Uncle Vanya
At 8 p.m. ET, Broadway's Best Shows continues its star-studded virtual season with Neil LaBute's new adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, starring Tony winner Alan Cumming as the disillusioned and disappointed title character, forever pining for Yelenah (Constance Wu), who's unhappily married to a retired professor (K. Todd Freeman). Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, Anson Mount, Samira Wiley, Manik Choksi and Mia Katigbak round out the cast. Danya Taymor directs this heartbreaking tale of loneliness and longing. Tickets start at $5 and proceeds go to The Actors Fund. The recorded performance will be viewable until Monday.
Black Lives, Black Words International Project: Plays for the People: The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale
At 8 p.m. ET, Black Lives, Black Words International Project presents Wole Oguntokun's devastating drama The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale. Based on the true story of a teenage Nigerian stowaway who arrived in the United Kingdom in 1949 in search of a better life, the play chronicles his demise due to mental illness, racism and police brutality. Harry Waters Jr. directs this world premiere. Tickets start at $10.
Theater Mitu: remnant
At 8 p.m. ET, the high-tech, avant-garde Brooklyn collective Theater Mitu reimagines remnant, its 2018 multimedia meditation on war, death and loss for digital consumption. Crafted out of extensive interviews and research with doctors, soldiers and other experts, the show is helmed by the company's artistic director Rubén Polendo, and co-presented by New York Theatre Workshop. Tickets are $10.
Stars in the House: Spotlight on the NEA and the CARES Act
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudestky and James Wesley discuss the recovery of the theatre industry with Mary Anne Carter, the chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, and two regional artistic directors who've received CARES Act grants: Jamil Jude from True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and Matt Gutschick from The Rose Theater in Omaha, Nebraska. Learn about what small theatres are doing to survive on YouTube.
Paul Taylor Dance Company: Modern is Now Benefit: Stories of Our Future
At 8 p.m. ET, the lauded Paul Taylor Dance Company hosts a virtual benefit featuring rare archival clips of the modern dance master alongside new performances of excerpts from his A Field of Grass, Cloven Kingdom and Esplanade, plus a tribute to the troupe's retired lead dancer Bettie de Jong. Register to receive the free viewing link though donations are encouraged.
Saving Wonderland: A Seize the Show Experience
At 8 p.m. ET, go down the rabbit hole with Seize the Show's interactive adventure featuring Lewis Carroll's iconic Alice in Wonderland characters. This family show takes place live on Zoom as audiences solve puzzles to move the story forward. Multiple endings are possible, so log in ready to participate. Tickets start at $13.
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TheaterWorks Hartford: The Who & the What
TheaterWorks Hartford presents The Who & the What by Disgraced playwright Ayad Akhtar. Like that Pulitzer Prize-winning play, this one-act wrestles with questions of faith and fidelity as a brilliant, Pakistani-American Muslim woman struggles to balance her father's approval with her own happiness. Directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar, the production stars Rajesh Bose, Jessica Jain, Sanam Laila Hashemi and Stephen Elrod, and was filmed on the Connecticut theatre's stage to an empty house. Tickets are $25 and a recording with closed captions is available. Viewable until Saturday, November 28.
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 Carmen featuring Clémentine Margaine as the title character, who captivates all the men around her. Filmed 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.
Patrick Stewart in Macbeth
Something wickedly good this way comes—Patrick Stewart in Macbeth! Rupert Goold's haunting mounting of Shakespeare's tragedy was seen on Broadway in 2008 and nominated for several Tony Awards. This recording was filmed in 2009 for PBS' Great Performances and reunites Stewart with most of the cast, notably Kate Fleetwood as a chilling Lady Macbeth. Watch for free on PBS' website.
The American Dance Guild Performance Festival: 10 Years Over 10 Weeks
Each year, the American Dance Guild produces a festival that includes salutes to iconic dance-makers. Since the event is virtual this year, the organizers are transforming it into a retrospective of the last decade of honorees, with archival recordings released every Monday for a week. The sixth features tributes to 2015's masters Doug Varone, Liz Lerman and Alice Teirstein. Watch for free until Sunday on Vimeo though donations are encouraged.
New York City Children's Theater: A Band of Angels
New York City Children's Theater produces some of the finest shows for young audiences in town, meaning they're just as engaging for adults as kids. Directed by Broadway vet Colman Domingo, the company's 2015 mounting of A Band of Angels was particularly powerful, and a recording is being streamed this month. Based on Deborah Hopkinson's book of the same name, the musical celebrates the historic Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir founded shortly after the Civil War at one of the first schools for emancipated African Americans. It's a timely and tuneful history lesson filled with soaring spirituals. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Tickets are $10 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, November 29.
Red Bull Theater: The Courage to Right A Woman's Wrongs (Valor, Agravio y Mujer)
On Monday, NYC's Red Bull Theater presented a live reading of The Courage to Right A Woman's Wrongs (Valor, Agravio y Mujer), and you can now watch the recording. A fierce, feminist take on the Don Juan story, the play was written by 17th-century Spanish playwright Ana Caro. Repertorio Español mounted the US premiere of this revenge story in Spanish in 2017. Now Red Bull tackles a new English translation, directed by Melia Bensussen and starring a mostly Latinx cast, including Anita Castillo-Halvorssen, Helen Cespedes, Natascia Diaz, Anthony Michael Martinez, Sam Morales, Alfredo Narciso, Luis Quintero and Matthew Saldivar. Watch for free until Friday on Red Bull's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
TADA! Youth Theater: Princess Phooey
TADA!, 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 shows for families. Recorded in 2015, Princess Phooey is the heartwarming tale of a spirited tomboy who refuses to be constrained by her royal rank. With songs by Lisa Diana Shapiro and Eric Rockwell of The Musical of Musicals—The Musical! fame, the production stars talented tykes ages 8 to 18 who are members of TADA!'s Resident Youth Ensemble. Watch for free on TADA!'s YouTube channel.
Top image: Alan Cumming, who's starring in Uncle Vanya at 8 p.m.