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 11 from the comfort of your couch for free (or at very low cost).
National Theatre: The Madness of George III
At 2 p.m. ET, 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.
Live with Carnegie Hall: Rosanne Cash
At 2 p.m. ET, Carnegie Hall welcomes singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash. As the child of the late, great Johnny Cash, she learned about the power of protest songs at an early age, and today she shares some of her favorites with a little help from her friends, including gospel star Lizz Wright, folk singer Marc Cohn and Grammy-winning rocker Elvis Costello. Watch for free on Carnegie Hall's Facebook page.
Stars in the House: Change the Perception
At 2 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley continue their spotlight on regional organizations by welcoming Denise Lee, a performer, playwright and activist who founded Change the Perception in Dallas, Texas, which fosters respectful conversations about race, bigotry, violence and privilege in showbiz and society. This twice daily show benefits the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and you can watch for free on YouTube.
Justin Vivian Bond: Auntie Glam's "Poetry and Pride" Happy Hour
At 5 p.m. ET, in honor of Pride Month and the Black Lives Matter protests, groundbreaking trans performer Justin Vivian Bond is amplifying the words and songs of Black and queer artists during their "live-screamed" show today, including works by poet and activist Essex Hemphill, former Cockette and trans cabaret crooner Bambi Lake and legendary singer-songwriter Nina Simone. Watch for free on their website though tips are encouraged.
Wesley Taylor on Classic Conversations
At 6 p.m. ET, Classic Stage Company continues its Classic Conversations with a chat between artistic director John Doyle and Wesley Taylor (SpongeBob SquarePants, Rock of Ages), who was set to star in the theatre's highly anticipated revival of Assassins, which has been indefinitely postponed. While this is billed as an interview series, the presenters promise "occasional" singing, and we're hoping they'll up that to frequent. Watch for free on Classic Stage Company's Facebook page. Assassins bonus: Watch Taylor's costar Ethan Slater croon "The Ballad of Czolgosz" with fellow cast members. It gives you a tantalizing taste of what could have been—and hopefully one day will be.
The New York Times: Offstage: Opening Night
At 7 p.m. ET, to mark what should have been the end of the 2019-2020 Broadway season, The New York Times launches Offstage, a new online series featuring prerecorded performances of songs and scenes by beloved stage stars, as well as interviews. This inaugural event kicks off with the Times' Wesley Morris talking with Tina stars Adrienne Warren and Daniel J. Watts, Celia Rose Gooding from Jagged Little Pill and A Soldier's Play director Kenny Leon about the global Black Lives Matter protests and their impact on the theatre industry. That will be followed by a thoughtful evening of songs and discussions, including Tony winners Patti LuPone and Katrina Lenk and the cast of Company singing the show's opening number; Tony winner Mary-Louise Parker delivering a monologue from The Sound Inside; Mare Winningham crooning a song from Girl From the North Country, Elizabeth Stanley performing a tune from Jagged Little Pill; and conversations with Slave Play scribe Jeremy O. Harris, Six creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, and Moulin Rouge! choreographer Sonya Tayeh. Watch for free on The Times' YouTube channel. This will not be available after-the-fact.
Irondale Ensemble: Julius Caesar
At 7 p.m. ET, in 2016, Brooklyn's intrepid Irondale Ensemble presented an ambitious event: a multi-hour marathon of four Shakespeare plays, all written in 1599: Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Hamlet. Now the company is revisiting the project for bite-size digital consumption. Tonight's offering is a condensed version of Julius Caesar, about the assassination of the Roman leader and how it led to the downfall of the republic. Watch for free on Irondale's YouTube channel.
Hamlet at the Stratford Festival
At 7 p.m. ET, 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.
Theater of War: The King Lear Project
At 7 p.m. ET, Theater of War Productions, a company that uses classical texts to examine urgent contemporary issues, presents scenes from King Lear to kick-start a guided community conversation about aging and elder care. Frankie Faison, Oscar nominee Amy Ryan, Tony nominee Kathryn Erbe, Marjolaine Goldsmith, David Zayas and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will perform the excerpts, and company artistic director Bryan Doerries will facilitate the discussion with a panel of experts. The performance takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download in advance. Reserve your free ticket on Eventbrite at least an hour in advance. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
POSTPONED Theater in Quarantine: Topside
At 7 p.m. ET, downtown multihyphenate Joshua William Gelb, known for deconstructing complicated classics like The Jazz Singer, performs Topside, a new playlet by Obie winner Scott R. Sheppard (Underground Railroad Game) inspired by Donald Barthelme's short story Game. The live event will be followed by a Q&A with the artists, and then an encore performance at 9 p.m. ET. Watch for free on Gelb's YouTube channel.
Alison Fraser in Adrift
At 7 p.m. ET, travel writer turned playwright Richard Alleman presents a reading of his one-act Adrift, about a well-heeled couple trying to escape the world's horrors by living on a luxury cruise ship. The cast is led by Tony nominee Alison Fraser alongside Glauco Araujo, Karen Archer and Anthony Newfield, who also directs. The performance takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download in advance. Tickets start at $15 and all proceeds go to the charitable programs of the Episcopal Actors' Guild.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: The Ailey Spirit Virtual Benefit
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the invaluable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater throws an online gala featuring performances and appearances by dancers from its main troupe, including the iconic Revelations, as well as the emerging stars of Ailey II and students from The Ailey School and the AileyCamp. Special guests who'll share their love for the company including Oscar nominee Angela Bassett, Tony winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom, Jr., and Just Mercy author and activist Bryan Stevenson, who will speak about confronting racism and poverty. Watch for free on Alvin Ailey's YouTube channel.
The Ghosts of Versailles at the Met
At 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares a gem from its vaults: its 1992 mounting of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, starring Teresa Stratas, Renée Fleming, Marilyn Horne, Graham Clark, Gino Quilico and Håkan Hagegård, conducted by James Levine. 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, the fantastical Hansel and Gretel, 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 understand Yiddish, their message of hope and connection come through. Watch for free on Folksbiene's Facebook page.
James Monroe Iglehart on Stars in the House
At 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome a gaggle of Aladdin Genies to Stars in the House: the original Tony-winning wish maker James Monroe Iglehart and three of his successors, Juwan Crawley, Michael James Leslie and Trevor Dion Nicholas. This twice daily show benefits the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and you can watch for free on YouTube.
Movie Night with Josh Groban: Josh Groban in Concert
At 8 p.m. ET, international recording sensation and Tony-nominated Great Comet star Josh Groban hosts a one-time screening of Josh Groban in Concert, recorded at California's Pasadena Civic Auditorium in 2002 and featuring Angie Stone and Andrea Corr. Throughout, he'll provide running commentary, sharing memories and stories about the film and his career. Watch for free on the singer's YouTube channel though donations to the ACLU, which will be matched by Groban, are encouraged.
The Brick: Destructo Snack, USA
At 8 p.m. ET, one of Brooklyn's most adventurous theatres, The Brick, continues its Archival Streaming Series with Destructo Snack, USA, a raucous rumination on gender by playwrights, performers and pals Sarah Graalman and Theresa Buchheister. 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 Marsha P. Johnson Institute are encouraged.
Coney Island USA: Puppets Come Home!
At 8 p.m. ET, if you've been missing the offbeat performance offerings at Coney Island USA, you can get your fix of wacky and wonderful with BoxCutter Collective's adult-aimed puppet show, as hosts Judy and Weasel televise the revolution... or at least try to start it. Watch for free on Coney Island USA's Facebook page.
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 2000 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.
La Fanciulla del West at the Met
Ever since the shutdown began, the opera house 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 and stay up for 48 hours. 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 La Fanciulla del West, Giacomo Puccini's colorful romance set during the California Gold Rush, as a charming outlaw wins the heart of a gun-toting saloon owner. Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jonas Kaufmann and Željko Lucic star in this 2018 mounting, conducted by Marco Armiliato. 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: James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.