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, May 15, from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
NYTB/Chamberworks: The Living Room Series
At noon ET, 40-year-old dance troupe New York Theatre Ballet, recently rechristened NYTB/Chamberworks, specializes in intimate works, and on Fridays, the company shares recordings from its archives. Today's lineup features Pam Tanowitz's Double Andante and Nicolo Fonte's The, And Back Again, both from 2015; and Merce Cunningham's 1967 Scramble. Watch for free on NYTB/Chamberworks's Vimeo channel.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats
At 2 p.m. ET, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Shows Must Go On! series continues with Cats—no, not last year's critically derided movie. A recreation of the 1981 original stage production, this Cats was recorded at London's Adelphi Theatre in 1998, and is headlined by West End star Elaine Paige as the grizzled Grizabella and Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy who gives her back one of her nine lives. Watch for free through Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on YouTube.
Simon McBurney's The Encounter
At 2 p.m. ET, Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse partners with London's Complicité to stream The Encounter, avant-garde theatre-maker Simon McBurney's aurally immersive one-man play about National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre's interactions with the elusive Mayoruna tribe in the Amazon rain forest. The singular show was well-received on Broadway and headphones are recommended to get the full experience as it conjures the locale through evocative sound design. Watch for free through Friday, May 22 on the St. Ann's Warehouse website.
The Cast of Diana on Stars in the House
At 2 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome the cast of the Broadway musical Diana, based on the too-brief but unforgettable life of Princess Diana. Guests include Jeanna de Waal, who plays the title royal, as well as her Prince Charles, Roe Hartrampf, her romantic rival Camilla Parker Bowles, Erin Davie, and two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye, who portrays Queen Elizabeth. This twice daily series supports The Actors Fund, and you can watch for free on the organization's YouTube channel.
Irish Repertory Theatre: Molly Sweeney
At 3 p.m. ET, the venerable Irish Rep presents Molly Sweeney, Brian Friel's popular drama about a woman blind since infancy whose sight is restored with unexpected consequences. Geraldine Hughes and Ciarán O'Reilly reprise their performances as Molly and her husband from the theatre's hit 2011 production, alongside newcomer Paul O'Brien as the surgeon who changes the title character's life. Told in series of monologues, Molly Sweeney was filmed remotely earlier this month. Tickets are free but required in order to get the viewing link; donations are encouraged.
Lincoln Center Theater: Pipeline
At 5:30 p.m. ET, BroadwayHD partners with Lincoln Center to stream the drama Pipeline at no cost. Written by Tony nominee Dominique Morisseau, the thought-provoking play ran at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in 2017 and centers on an inner-city public school teacher of color fighting to save her son from an inequitable education system. Watch for free anytime through Friday, May 22 on BroadwayHD.
Turning the Lights Back On
At 5:45 p.m. ET, four Manhattan performing arts high schools show off their talents in Turning the Lights Back On. Students from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the Professional Performing Arts School, Talent Unlimited and Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts will perform songs, solos, duets, dances and scenes in celebration of our city's courageous healthcare workers. Who knows? You may be watching the next Timothée Chalamet or Nicki Minaj—they both graduated from Lag! Watch for free online.
San Francisco Ballet: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
At 6 p.m. ET, San Francisco Ballet shares a 2018 recording of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, an uplifting romp choreographed by Tony winner Justin Peck set to French electronic group M83's double album of the same name. Watch for free on the dance company's website.
Joe Iconis & Family at Feinstein's/54 Below
At 6:30 p.m. ET, Feinstein's/54 Below shares a recording of a 2019 concert by Joe Iconis and his pals. The songwriter may be best known to Broadway audiences for his Tony-nominated work on Gen Z favorite Be More Chill, but cabaret lovers have been flocking to his club gigs for years, which feel as much like parties as concerts. At this tuneful gathering, Iconis' chosen family includes Annie Golden, who recently starred in his Off-Broadway musical Broadway Bounty Hunter; Lauren Marcus, George Salazar and Jason SweetTooth from Be More Chill; and Broadway darling Krysta Rodriguez. Watch for free on the club's YouTube channel. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
Play-PerView: The Way of Water
At 7 p.m. ET, the live-streamed theatre series Play-PerView presents a reading of The Way of Water, Caridad Svich's drama about two fisherman struggling in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. New York City stage regulars Robert Gilbert (The Rolling Stone), Molly Griggs (Hello, Dolly!) Thomas Keegan (Slave Play) and Mandi Masden (Manhattan Theatre Club's Saint Joan) star. The performance takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download in advance. Tickets start at $5, and proceeds benefit the nonprofit companies Repertorio Español and The Lark. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
The Joyce Theater: Stephen Petronio Company
At 7 p.m. ET, dance haven The Joyce Theater shares a 2019 recording of choreographer Stephen Petronio’s American Landscapes, a movement meditation on the ever-shifting nature of our nation. Watch for free on the Joyce's YouTube channel.
Lucia di Lammermoor at the Met
At 7:30 p.m. ET, it's viewers' choice night at the Metropolitan Opera, and this one is a vintage treat: the 1982 mounting of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, starring Joan Sutherland, Alfredo Kraus, Pablo Elvira and Paul Plishka, conducted by Richard Bonynge. 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, Peter Grimes, until 6:30 p.m. today.
Montego Glover and James Monroe Iglehart on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome two former Memphis costars on Stars in the House: Montego Glover and James Monroe Iglehart, who went on to win a Tony as the Genie in Aladdin. These two are old and dear friends, so we suspect they'll have a lot to talk—and sing!—about. This twice daily show benefits The Actors' Fund, and you can watch for free on YouTube.
New York City Ballet: Pulcinella Variations
At 8 p.m. ET, more Justin Peck! NYCB continues its online spring season with the resident choreographer's Pulcinella Variations, a neoclassical work set to Igor Stravinsky's music, featuring nine dancers in a series of divertissements. Watch for free on NYCB's YouTube channel through Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
Great Performances: Leonard Bernstein's Mass
At 9 p.m. ET, PBS's venerable Great Performances series presents Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Recorded at last year's Ravinia Festival, the piece features the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and South Pacific Tony nominee Paulo Szot as the Celebrant, singing lyrics by Bernstein and new text by Pippin songwriter Stephen Schwartz. The episode also includes performances by the choral ensemble Vocality, the Chicago Children's Choir and the Highland Park High School Marching Band. Watch for free on your local PBS channel or on the website.
National Theatre: Barber Shop Chronicles
London's National Theatre shares Barber Shop Chronicles, Inua Ellams' hit play about the thriving social scenes at six different barbershops, one in London, the others in Africa. A critically acclaimed production, the show presents a loving and insightful portrait of the African men who work and visit these hair-styling havens. Watch for free through Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.
The Public Theater: What Do We Need to Talk About?
Last month, The Public Theater premiered What Do We Need to Talk About?, a brand-new drama by Tony-winning playwright and director Richard Nelson centered on his fictional Apple family. Initially, it was only available to watch for four days, but now it's back online through the end of June. From 2010 to 2013, Nelson mounted one hyper-realistic play a year about this Rhinebeck, New York clan as they grappled with national milestones such as the 10th anniversary of September 11, the 2012 reelection of Barack Obama and the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. In this latest installment, the Apples find themselves Zooming during the coronavirus pandemic. The cast of the original tetralogy returns for this eminently relatable and profoundly moving one-act: Tony winner Maryann Plunkett and her real-life husband Jay O. Sanders (playing sister and brother), Laila Robins, Stephen Kunken and Sally Murphy, all performing from the safety of their own homes. Watch for free on The Public Theater's YouTube channel.
Beth Morrison Projects: The Source
In 2014, indie opera incubator Beth Morrison Projects co-commissioned The Source, an oratorio composed by Ted Hearne with text by Mark Doten exploring the plight of Chelsea Manning, a former United States Army soldier who gave classified documents to WikiLeaks. Recorded at BAM in 2014, this critically lauded production features eye-popping video installations by Jim Findlay and was directed by Daniel Fish, who went on to earn a Tony nod for his dark take on Oklahoma! on Broadway. Watch for free on Beth Morrison Projects' website.
MCC LiveLabs: One Acts: Frankie & Will
Earlier this week, MCC Theater kicked off its new series LiveLabs with Talene Monahon's comedy Frankie & Will, starring Michael Urie as William Shakespeare opposite his real-life boyfriend Ryan Spahn as his unpaid intern, Francis, with the two quarantining together during a plague. Since the actors cohabitate no social distancing was required—they're in the same frame together, a welcome throwback to the old days of February. Watch for free on MCC Theater's YouTube channel.
Victory Gardens Theater: Fun Home
Starting today for two weeks, Chicago's lauded Victory Gardens Theater is streaming its 2017 production of Fun Home. Written by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, the Tony Award-winning musical was inspired by Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel about being raised by her closeted father in a funeral home. Tickets are $20 and buyers can view the recording once anytime through May 24.
Andrew Scott in Sea Wall
Simon Stephens' devastating monologue Sea Wall, previously seen on Broadway paired with Nick Payne's solo A Life, is now online. This 2012 recording stars Andrew Scott of Fleabag fame, and he is heartbreaking as a man who recalls how a trip to the south of France with his family changed the course of his life. Even though you see the end coming, it still packs a gut punch. Watch for free anytime through Sunday on YouTube.
Shakespeare's Globe: Macbeth
London's venerable Shakespeare's Globe has been releasing a new show from its archives every two weeks (the current offering is The Two Noble Kinsmen), but this is a bonus production. This one-act version of Macbeth was created for the theatre's education series Playing Shakespeare, and Ekow Quartey and Elly Condron star as the bloodthirsty aspirational couple. Watch for free on the theatre's YouTube channel.
Donmar Warehouse: Midnight Your Time
London's lauded Donmar Warehouse premieres Adam Brace's brand-new one-act Midnight Your Time about a retired London lawyer desperately trying to connect with her daughter in Palestine. A meditation on isolation and the challenges of remote communication, the play stars Diana Quick (Brideshead Revisited) and is directed by Donmar Warehouse's artistic director Michael Longhurst. Watch for free on the theatre's YouTube channel.
Bill Irwin's In-Zoom
Yesterday, San Diego's Old Globe premiered In-Zoom by Tony-winning performer and consummate clown Bill Irwin. In the Beckettian 10-minute play, two unnamed men portrayed by Irwin and Tony-nominated funnyman Christopher Fitzgerald (Wicked, Waitress) attempt to connect and record inspirational messages with comically poignant results. Irwin's exploration of Zoom as a performance medium is fascinating but his farcical shtick gives way to an unexpectedly moving ending. It's short and bittersweet. Watch for free on the Old Globe's YouTube channel.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Elaine Paige in Cats. Photograph courtesy of the Really Useful Group.