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, Friday, June 12, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
The Wiz Live!
At 2 p.m. ET, the Shows Must Go On! screens The Wiz Live!, one of the best live TV musicals of recent years. Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown's all-Black reinvention of The Wizard of Oz won seven 1975 Tony Awards, including best musical. NBC's 2015 mounting features a revised book by Harvey Fierstein; a starry cast (Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah, to name a handful); Cirque du Soleil acrobats as the Flying Monkeys; and a charming performance by teenage newcomer Shanice Williams at its center. Watch for free through Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on YouTube.
University of Michigan Young Alumni on Stars in the House
At 2 p.m. ET, Stars in the House hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome young alumni from the University of Michigan, which has a revered musical theatre department—grads include Tony-winning performers Celia Keenan-Bolger and Gavin Creel as well as Dear Evan Hansen songwriters Pasek and Paul. Who knows? You may spot a future star or two. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are encouraged.
The Royal Ballet: La Fille mal gardée
At 2 p.m. ET, London's Royal Ballet shares a recording of La Fille mal gardée, choreographer Frederick Ashton's pastoral love story infused with folk dancing, set to Ferdinand Hérold's music. Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez star as a farmer and the lass who captures his heart. Watch for free on YouTube channel.
Sheen Center: Poetry In America Live with Melissa Errico
At 3 p.m. ET, the Sheen Center celebrates the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim with a live celebration of songs from Sunday in the Park with George. Tony nominee and storied Sondheim interpreter Melissa Errico will sing three numbers from that Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, and PBS's Poetry in America host Elisa New and New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik will discuss the auteur's work. Watch for free on the Sheen Center's YouTube channel.
Max von Essen on Virtual Halston
At 5 p.m. ET, Julie Halston, Broadway funny lady and longtime friend to TDF, welcomes American in Paris Tony nominee Max von Essen to her online chat show. The two are old pals, having costarred together in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express at New Jersey's McCarter Theatre Center, and we can't wait to hear them dish. Watch for free on YouTube.
San Francisco Ballet: Björk Ballet
At 5:30 p.m. ET, San Francisco Ballet shares a 2019 recording of Björk Ballet, choreographer Arthur Pita's celebration of Iceland's sui generis singer-songwriter, set to selections from her extensive genre-defying catalog. Watch for free on the dance company's website.
The Joyce Theater: Ballet Tech's Kids Dance
At 7 p.m. ET, dance haven The Joyce Theater spotlights the talents of up-and-coming performers from Ballet Tech, NYC's sole public school for aspiring dancers. The young cast will perform a triple bill of works by school founder and choreographer Eliot Feld. Watch for free on the Joyce's YouTube channel.
Pride Plays: one in two
At 7 p.m. ET, last June in honor of Pride Month, Michael Urie partnered with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater to present a festival of diverse LGBTQ play readings. This year the series goes online at Playbill.com, starting with tonight's performance of Donja R. Love's one in two, an unforgettable one-act that humanizes the stark statistics about Black men and HIV. This event reunites the cast of the play's critically acclaimed world premiere at The New Group last fall: Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Mawere. Watch for free on Playbill's website though donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are encouraged.
Songs of Hope
At 7 p.m. ET, up-and-coming musical theatre performer J.R. Heckman hosts a benefit concert for Josh Groban's arts education Find Your Light Foundation. In addition to being joined by some of his talented college-age peers, Heckman will welcome Broadway's Telly Leung from Aladdin, Tony nominee and the founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices Michael McElroy and Crystal Monee Hall from Rent. Watch for free online but donations are encouraged.
Astoria Performing Arts Center: The Insiders - Musicals from the Quarantine
At 7 p.m. ET, Queens' venerable Astoria Performing Arts Center continues its series of mini musicals inspired by the weird way we're living today with Longview, about three siblings whose closeness is threatened when one posts a DIY will online during the pandemic. Watch for free on the theatre's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
The Metropolitan Opera's At-Home Gala
At 7:30 p.m. ET, back in late April, the Metropolitan Opera presented a live-streamed gala featuring more than 40 stars singing from their homes around the globe. The event was so popular, it almost crashed the Met's site! If you missed that event or want to revisit it, the opera house is re-airing the special, which includes performances by Angel Blue, Renée Fleming, Sonya Yoncheva and Michael Volle. Watch for free on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, The Ghosts of Versailles, until 6:30 p.m. today.
Classical Theatre of Harlem: The Bacchae
At 8 p.m. ET, the Classical Theatre of Harlem, one of NYC's premiere Black companies, usually mounts a free production in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park during the summer. Since that's not possible this year, the troupe is sharing a recording of its 2018 take on The Bacchae, which turns Euripides' play into an raucous, glitter-encrusted, rock-'n'-roll party... until that tragic ending of course. You can stream the production anytime through June 26 for $10 on Vimeo.
Cats Cast Reunion on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Stars in the House hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome original cast members from Broadway's Cats: Tony winner Betty Buckley and Ken Page. We're sure they have lots of memories to share. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are encouraged.
TRLive!: Trevor New
At 8 p.m. ET, 42nd Street's nonprofit complex Theatre Row continues its live concert series with Trevor New, a Brooklyn-based electro-acoustic violist, who's oerformed in grand concert halls like Carnegie as well as Off-Broadway black boxes. He'll be playing some of his original work, which he creates with his viola, voice and looping technology. Watch for free on Theatre Row's Facebook page though donations are encouraged.
At 9 p.m. ET, to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, writer-composer Donald Rupe is sharing a recording of his musical From Here, about a thirtysomething gay man looking for love and community in the Florida city before and after that horrific event. From Here premiered at the 2019 Orlando Fringe Festival, and this recording is from its run at Central Florida Community Arts earlier this year, which was cut short due to the pandemic. Watch for free on the show's website.
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National Theatre: The Madness of George III
London's National Theatre presents a recording of The Nottingham Playhouse's 2018 revival of The Madness of George III, Alan Bennett's fictionalized examination of the U.K.'s King George III, whose battle with mental illness plunged his court into disarray. Mark Gatiss, of Doctor Who and Sherlock fame, delivers a tour-de-force performance in the title role. Watch for free through Thursday, June 18 at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
Hamlet at the Stratford Festival
Ontario's venerable Stratford Festival continues its Shakespeare on Film series with Hamlet, directed by the fest's artistic director Antoni Cimolino and starring Canadian stage vet Jonathan Goad as the tragic Danish prince. 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.
Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles
In April 1992, when playwright-performer Anna Deavere Smith was about to premiere her career-making one-woman play Fires in the Mirror about the Crown Heights riots, the Los Angeles uprising broke out after the acquittal of white police officers who had beaten a Black man named Rodney King almost to death. That upheaval became the subject of Smith's next solo show Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, which ran at The Public Theater before transferring to Broadway, where she earned 1994 Tony nominations for best actress and best new play. After interviewing more than 300 people both directly and tangentially connected to the Los Angeles unrest, Smith created a collage of disparate voices and perspectives, channeling citizens who were there alongside LAPD chief Daryl Gates, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and activist and scholar Cornel West. Given Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992's timeliness, PBS is streaming its 2001 film adaptation for free on its website.
The Wilma Theater: Kill Move Paradise
Philadelphia's Wilma Theater shares a recording of its 2018 mounting of Kill Move Paradise, James Ijames' potent play about three Black men and one Black boy who find themselves trapped in a surreal netherworld after being victims of police violence. This indelible work was inspired by the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and so many others. To get the viewing link, make a donation of any amount to Black Lives Matter Philly.
Matrix Theatre Company: Scraps
Los Angeles' Matrix Theatre Company shares its 2019 production of Scraps, Geraldine Inoa's powerful examination of how friends and family cope when a Black loved one is murdered by police. We covered the play when it had its world premiere at The Flea two years ago, and its themes and emotions remain infuriatingly timely. Directed by Obie winner Stevie Walker-Webb, the production is available to watch for free on the theatre's YouTube channel.
HERE Arts Center: Disposable Men
Downtown culture hub HERE presents Disposable Men, playwright-performer-techie James Scruggs' searing multimedia exploration of how American culture depicts Black men as monsters. Using eight channels of video, satire and unforgettable audience interaction, this 2005 work examines many urgent issues, notably how police brutality and unequal health care are killing Black men. Watch for free on HERE's Facebook page.
Lincoln Center Theater: Pipeline
BroadwayHD is streaming Pipeline at no cost, Dominique Morisseau's thought-provoking drama about a Black inner-city public school teacher (Karen Pittman) fighting to ensure her son doesn't become a statistic of the school-to-prison pipeline. Watch for free anytime on BroadwayHD.
Jomama Jones in Black Light
Joe's Pub presents a recording of Black Light starring Jomama Jones, the theatrical alter ego of writer-performer Daniel Alexander Jones. A breathtaking Black diva who's not afraid to let her pain show, Jomama shares her original songs and her struggles in a performance that ultimately champions love and connection. Watch for free on Joe's Pub's YouTube channel.
Top image: Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier and Shanice Williams in The Wiz Live!. Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC.