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 Friday through Sunday, August 7 to 9, for free or at very low cost.
Live with Atlantic: Jeanine Tesori
On Friday at 4 p.m. ET, the lauded Atlantic Theater Company presents a live performance with Jeanine Tesori, the Tony-winning composer of Fun Home, whose other shows include Shrek the Musical; Caroline, or Change and Violet. She'll be sharing some cut songs, brand-new tunes and well-known numbers from her storied career. Register in advance to receive the free viewing link.
Colman Domingo on Virtual Halston
On Friday at 5 p.m. ET, Julie Halston, Broadway funny lady and longtime friend to TDF, welcomes a trio of talented performers: Scottsboro Boys Tony nominee and Fear the Walking Dead star Colman Domingo, who's also an accomplished playwright and director; veteran Broadway belter Jessica Vosk and jazz crooner Jane Monheit. Watch for free on YouTube.
On Friday at 7 p.m. ET, catch a live reading of The Understudy, Theresa Rebeck's backstage satire about all the drama that ensues during a put-in rehearsal with an understudy. Andrew Kober is the hardworking title character, who's shadowing action star Jawan M. Jackson while fighting with his stage manager ex, played by Broadway diva Lesli Margherita. There's a post-performance Q&A with the playwright and cast. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
The Metropolitan Opera: Parsifal
On Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Parsifal, Otto Schenk's 1992 mounting of Wagner's final work, with Siegfried Jerusalem playing the title character, who recaptures the Holy Spear and restores the land of the Holy Grail. Waltraud Meier, Bernd Weikl and Kurt Molla costar. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Madama Butterfly, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Brenda Braxton on Stars in the House
On Friday at 8 p.m. ET, Smokey Joe's Cafe Tony nominee Brenda Braxton guest hosts Stars in the House in honor of her birthday! She's joined by two fellow Velma Kellys from Chicago: Amra-Faye Wright and Donna Marie Asbury. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Great Performances: In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams
On Friday at 9 p.m. ET, PBS Thirteen is airing In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams, a documentary about the journey to Broadway for Lin-Manuel Miranda's first book musical In the Heights. A Latin and hip-hop-infused love letter to immigrant striving and the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, the show bowed Off Broadway in 2007 and was such a smash, it transferred to the Main Stem the next year, where it won four Tony Awards including Best Musical. Watch the inspiring story for free until Friday, September 4 on the PBS website.
Ice Factory: Who's There?
On Friday at 10 p.m. ET, the New Ohio Theatre brings its 27th annual Ice Factory festival online with four boundary-pushing premieres over four weeks. The third offering is Who's There?, an ambitious exploration of cross-cultural blind spots featuring Black, Asian and white artists based in Singapore, Malaysia and the US. Created by The Transit Ensemble for digital consumption, the show examines othering in the age of online activism. Pay-what-you-can tickets start at $1. There will be a final live performance on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.
On Saturday at 8:45 a.m. ET, P.A. Tokyo presents the live premiere of WeSongCycle, a cross-continental musical collaboration of numbers inspired by the theme heroism. Songwriters in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the US and UK came together virtually to pen the bilingual tunes, with guidance from Rob Rokicki (composer-lyricist of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical), Aladdin star Telly Leung and director Stafford Arima (Allegiance). Hear the fruits of their online labors for free on P.A. Tokyo's YouTube channel.
Stars in the House: Free to Be...You and Me
On Saturday at 2 p.m. ET, see an encore airing of Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley's Free to Be...You and Me episode of Stars in the House. Marlo Thomas's groundbreaking 1972 children's album celebrating diversity was turned into a TV special and a book, and its messages of inclusion, kindness and empathy continue to be necessary. Famous fans of the material, including Harry Belafonte, Drew Barrymore, Rosie O'Donnell, Marlee Matlin, Audra McDonald, Benj Pasek, Debra Messing and Gloria Steinem, talk about how it impacted their lives. In addition, pop diva and Waitress songwriter Sara Bareilles performs the title tune, and Michael McElroy and the Broadway Inspirational Voices cover "Sisters and Brothers." Watch for free on YouTube.
On Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, the live reading series Play-PerView presents Dutchman, Amiri Baraka's searing 1964 play about a white temptress trying to seduce a Black man on the subway. This event reunites the leads of the 2007 Cherry Lane production: Dulé Hill (Psych, The West Wing) and Jennifer Mudge. The one-act's depiction of the insidiousness of white supremacy feels as disturbingly timely as ever. The performance takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download beforehand. Tickets start at $5 and benefit Newark Arts.
The Metropolitan Opera: Agrippina
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Agrippina, Handel's satirical take on the political games the people surrounding Roman emperor Claudius play, including his wife Agrippina, portrayed by Joyce DiDonato. Sir David McVicar's mounting was recorded earlier this year, and costars Brenda Rae, Kate Lindsey, Iestyn Davies, Duncan Rock and Matthew Rose. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Parsifal , until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
#SavetheArts on Stars in the House
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, once again, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley welcome a cavalcade of boldface names to Stars in the House in honor of the #SavetheArts campaign, as celebrities ask our government to take action. The guest list hasn't yet been released but judging from past #SavetheArts episodes, there should be some bigwigs. Watch for free on YouTube and then let your local politicians know the arts are essential!
The Know Theatre: Feast.
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, Cincinnati's Know Theatre presents Feast., a one-woman play by Megan Gogerty that gets into the head of Grendel's mother, who's hell-bent on avenging her son's death in Beowulf. Tickets are available from the theatre but TDF members get a discount. There will be another performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Ham4Change: A Virtual Fundraiser Event
On Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, original Hamilton cast members Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Ariana DeBose, Ephraim Sykes and Emmy Raver-Lampman (now a star on Netflix's Umbrella Academy) are joined by other actors in the Ham fam for a live-streamed event benefiting various orgs fighting against systemic racism. Tune in for songs, stories and social justice. Tickets are $10.75.
Stars in the House Presents Lady Liberty and the Donut Girl
On Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, Stars in the House continues its live reading series for young audiences with Lady Liberty and the Donut Girl , Eric Lane's one-act dramedy about a pair of teenage outcasts attempting to bond. Jacob Daniel Smith directs Simone Clotile and Donovan Rogers in this coming-of-awkward-age tale. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to Washington, DC's Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts are encouraged.
The Metropolitan Opera: Don Giovanni
On Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Don Giovanni, featuring Simon Keenlyside in the title role of the world’s most notorious lover. The production was filmed for the company's Live in HD series in 2016, and costars Hibla Gerzmava, Malin Byström, Serena Malfi, Paul Appleby and Adam Plachetka. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Agrippina, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
The Seth Concert Series: Liz Callaway
On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, apparently, hosting a daily talk show online and a Sirius XM Satellite Radio series isn't enough for the multitalented Seth Rudetsky. Well-known for his skills as a pianist, musical director and interviewer, he's hosted a series of intimate live concerts in Provincetown with Broadway stars for the past decade. This summer he brings the show online, and tonight's headliner is Tony nominee Liz Callaway, who made her Broadway debut in Merrily We Roll Along when she was just 20! In addition to starring in Baby, Miss Saigon and five years as Grizabella in the original production of Cats, she's also provided the singing voice of many an animated heroine, including Princess Odette in The Swan Princess and the title character in Anastasia. Tickets are $25.
On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, Playdate Theater, a virtual theatre series featuring 15-minute world-premiere "screen-plays," wraps up with a pair of playlets: Sarah Groustra's Hangups featuring sitcom stars Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) and Marcus Scribner (Black-ish) grappling with their nomance during lockdown, and Roseanna Zerambo's Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam with Meg DeLacy as a student struggling with schoolwork and money troubles during quarantine. Tickets start at $5.
Theater of War Productions: Antigone in Ferguson
On Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET, Theater of War Productions, a company that uses classical texts to illuminate contemporary issues, presents Antigone in Ferguson, a Black Lives Matter-infused take on Sophocles' tragedy, which was previously mounted in Harlem, Brooklyn and Missouri. The production fuses dramatic readings of passages from Antigone by actors and activists—including Oscar Isaac, Tracie Thoms, Ato Blankson-Wood, pastor Willie Woodmore and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams—with original gospel music by Phil Woodmore sung by a diverse choir. After the performance, director-adapter Bryan Doerries will co-moderate a discussion with Missouri social worker De-Andrea Blaylock Johnson about racialized violence, structural oppression and social justice in honor of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black man fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri six years ago today. The incident helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement and inspired this singular performance. The event takes place on the free app Zoom, which you'll need to download in advance. Reserve your ticket on Eventbrite to receive the free viewing link. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.
Hamilton isn't the only must-see title for theatre fans on Disney+. The service is now streaming Howard, a documentary about the late lyricist Howard Ashman, who collaborated with Alan Menken on Little Shop of Horrors; Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; and the Disney animated movies The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Ashman died of AIDS at age 40 in 1991, yet director Don Hahn lets him tell his own story by splicing together old interviews, supported by song demos, new conversations with his family and friends, and footage from a Beauty and the Beast recording session featuring Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach. If you haven't subscribed to Disney+ yet, a month costs just $6.99 and that gives you plenty of time to watch this and Hamilton.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The world's largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which has taken place in Scotland every August since 1947, goes virtual this year, with dozens of online performances from artists around the world. They're a charmingly motley bunch, an array of cutting-edge comedy, experimental theatre, wacky musicals and the indefinable. Some offerings cost money, others are free; some are available on demand, others have specific start times. You can browse the options to see what piques your interest. Also be sure to peruse Online@theSpaceUK, which lists Fringe shows that are 100% free and were all written and produced during our new surreality.
The Homebound Project
The Homebound Project presents its fifth and final edition of world-premiere playlets and as always the lineup is stellar. The 12 shorts include Austin Pendleton in a piece by Craig Lucas, Laurie Metcalf in a work by Stephen Karam, Kelli O'Hara in a playlet by Lindsey Ferrentino and Lena Dunham in a self-penned solo. The brainchild of playwright Catya McMullen and director Jenna Worsham, this initiative is raising money to support food insecure families during the pandemic. Tickets start at $10 and proceeds go to No Kid Hungry.
The Old Vic: Jekyll & Hyde
London's Old Vic shares Jekyll & Hyde, director-choreographer Drew McOnie's reinvention of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale as a dance drama, set to original music by Grant Olding. An Olivier Award winner, McOnie is best known stateside for King Kong on Broadway, proving he knows how to reimagine a classic. Watch for free until Wednesday, August 12 at 2 p.m. ET on the Old Vic's YouTube channel.
Blair Underwood and Joe Morton in Cuttin' Up
Back in June, Playbill presented a starry reading of Cuttin' Up, and it's returning for an encore stream. Charles Randolph-Wright's stage adaptation of Craig Marberry's book focuses on three Black barbers of different generations, and the humor and wisdom they bestow on their customers and each other. Stage and screen stars Blair Underwood, Joe Morton and Dyllon Burnside lead a cast that includes Tisha Campbell as all the women who drop by the shop. Watch for free on Playbill's website though donations to the Classical Theatre of Harlem are encouraged.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Love Stories
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater shares Love Stories, Judith Jamison's vibrant 2004 collaboration with hip-hop pioneer Rennie Harris and Robert Battle, who took over from her as the troupe's artistic director in 2011. Set to Stevie Wonder songs, the half-hour piece is available to watch for free until Thursday, August 13 on the troupe's YouTube channel.
Original Theatre Company: Watching Rosie
The U.K.'s Original Theatre Company presents Watching Rosie, Louise Coulthard's moving playlet about dealing with dementia in lockdown. The fiery Miriam Margolyes (The Age of Innocence and one of the most unfiltered talk-show guests ever) plays the title character, who finds a way to bond with her beloved granddaughter despite their physical distance. Coulthard costars and Michael Fentiman directs. Register in advance to receive the free viewing link; donations are encouraged.
Manual Cinema: The End of TV
Here's a dazzling treat: throughout August, the multimedia theatre collective Manual Cinema, which combines shadow puppetry and filmic elements, is sharing recordings of one eye-popping show each week. This week's offering is The End of TV, a deconstruction of the American Dream set in a post-industrial Rust Belt city in the '90s, as the aspirational promise of TV commercials is juxtaposed against declining opportunities. Watch for free until Monday, August 10 at 1 p.m. ET on the company's website.
Theater Breaking Through Barriers: Voices from the Great Experiment
Theater Breaking Through Barriers, one of the country's leading companies showcasing artists with disabilities, continues its live reading series of new shorts created for Zoom by dramatists who participated in its Virtual Playmakers' Intensive. From Friday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, you can see new playlets by Monét Marshall, Enrique Huili and Khalil LeSaldo. Watch for free with live captioning on the company's YouTube channel.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Lin-Manuel Miranda, center, and the original Broadway cast of In the Heights on Broadway. Photo by Joan Marcus.