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25+ Stage Performances to Watch May 19-20

Date: May 19, 2021


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With in-person theatre still a rarity for the time being, many companies and performers from Broadway and beyond are showcasing their work online. Below are performances you can watch this Wednesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 20, from the comfort of your couch for free or at low cost.

Wednesday, May 19

The Metropolitan Opera: Il Trovatore
On Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, 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. These productions have been specially selected for families and are complemented by online educational materials. This week's offering is David McVicar's mounting of Verdi's Il Trovatore, starring Marcelo Álvarez as Manrico, the passionate troubadour, Sondra Radvanovsky as his lady love and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as the evil Count di Luna who stands in the way of their happiness. Watch for free until Friday at 5 p.m. ET on the Metropolitan Opera's website.

Lincoln Center: Restart Stages: Jose Llana in Concert
On Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, Lincoln Center: Restart Stages presents Broadway favorite Jose Llana in a live outdoor concert that will also be streamed to at-home viewers. Llana starred on Broadway in The King and I (two different roles in two different productions 20 years apart!), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Flower Drum Song, and also headlined Here Lies Love about his native Philippines at The Public Theater. This special performance is dedicated to the Philippine Nurses Association of America, who've worked tirelessly and heroically throughout the pandemic. Watch for free on Lincoln Center's website. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.

The Metropolitan Opera: Boris Godunov
On Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Boris Godunov, Mussorgsky's epic about the 16th-century Russian ruler during the Time of Troubles. René Pape is captivating as the title Tsar; Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Oleg Balashov, Evgeny Nikitin, Mikhail Petrenko and Vladimir Ognovenko costar in this 2010 mounting. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Idomeneo, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.

National Asian American Theatre Company: Our Town
On Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, NAATCO, one of NYC's leading Asian-American theatre companies, presents a one-night-only reading of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. An all-Asian cast performs this metatheatrical American classic, including the troupe's cofounder, award-winning actor Mia Katigbak, alongside more than two-dozen performers, including TV stalwart Amy Hill and Obie winner Midori Francis Iwama. Tickets are $25.

Stars in the House: Pageant Reunion
On Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, it's a Pageant reunion on Stars in the House! Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley get the glamorous stars of this 1991 Off-Broadway musical about a drag queen beauty contest back together, including original cast members John Salvatore, Randl Ash, Joe Joyce, Dick Scanlan, Russell Garrett and David Drake, and director-choreographer Robert Longbottom. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.

Thursday, May 20

Manhattan Theatre Club: Camille A. Brown – A Glimpse Behind The Curtain
Starting on Thursday, Manhattan Theatre Club continues its Snapshots series with an intimate look at the creative process of Tony-nominated choreographer and director Camille A. Brown (Once on This Island, MTC's Choir Boy on Broadway). This episode spotlights her work as she prepares for her re-envisioned mounting of the musical Ain't Misbehavin', which will be presented regionally soon. RSVP to receive the free viewing link. The recording is viewable until Sunday and closed captions are available.

The Tank: Capricorn 29
Starting on Thursday, indie theatre incubator The Tank presents Capricorn 29, a new hour-long musical by Alex Hare and Julia Izumia about a millennial on the cusp of 29 who uncovers a secret plot by the powers that be to eliminate unsuccessful 30-year-olds. A tuneful skewering of the arbitrary nature of age-based milestones, this show features songs by Laura Galindo, brothers Daniel and Patrick Lazour, Stompcat and Storm Thomas. Tickets start at $10 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, May 30.

Broadway Advocacy Coalition: The Fellowship Hall
On Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET, Broadway Advocacy Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to dismantling the systems that perpetuate racism through the power of storytelling, presents The Fellowship Hall, a four-day festival spotlighting the work of the Black artists chosen for the inaugural Artivism Fellows program. Tonight is opening night, which includes words from BAC cofounder and Broadway vet Amber Iman as well as the introduction of the recipients. Register to receive the free viewing link.

POSTPONED The Vineyard Theatre: Brutal Imagination
On Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, twenty years after Cornelius Eady's Brutal Imagination premiered at The Vineyard Theatre, the play returns with original stars Joe Morton and Sally Murphy. Directed by Morton, the drama is inspired by the infamous case of Susan Smith, a white woman from South Carolina who falsely claimed that a Black man kidnapped her children when, in fact, she had drowned them. A potent examination of dangerous racial stereotyping in America, then and now. Tickets start at $25 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount. The recording is viewable until Thursday, June 3.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Once Upon A (korean) Time
On Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, Ma-Yi Theater Company, one of NYC's leading Asian-American theatre companies, presents Daniel K. Isaac's Once Upon A (korean) Time, which fuses traditional Korean fables with the horrors of the Korean War to explore the experiences of the Korean-American diaspora. Ma-Yi's artistic director, Ralph B. Peña, helms the work, and Diana Oh, Jon Norman Schneider, James Seol, David Shih and Shannon Tyo star. Tickets start at $5 and the recording is viewable until Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Theater in Quarantine: The Little Hours (or Two Friends)
On Thursday at 7 and 9 p.m. ET, Theater in Quarantine and La MaMa present the world premiere of The Little Hours, a play-installation by Caridad Svich about two poet friends navigating their lives as artists and longing for a bohemian NYC that only exists in memory. Keith McDermott and Joshua William Gelb star, and the latter also directs. Watch for free on YouTube.

The Metropolitan Opera: La Sonnambula
On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Tony winner Mary Zimmerman's 2009 mounting of La Sonnambula, Bellini's comedy of confusion as a young woman (Natalie Dessay) is discovered sleeping in the bed of a stranger by her startled fiancé (Juan Diego Flórez). Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Boris Godunov, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.

Broadway's Best Shows Spotlight on Plays: The Sisters Rosensweig
On Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, since spring of 2020, Broadway's Best Shows has presented performances of important plays featuring big stars acting from their respective homes. The series continues with Wendy Wasserstein's Tony-nominated comedy The Sisters Rosensweig about three very different siblings who reunite after a lengthy separation to celebrate the eldest's birthday. Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision), Lisa Edelstein (House) and Tracee Chimo Pallero play the titular sisters, and their party guests include Tony winner Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Tootsie's John Behlmann. Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro directs. Tickets are $18 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount. The recording is viewable until Monday at 6 p.m. ET and a portion of the proceeds benefits TDF's Wendy Wasserstein Program.

FourthWall Theatrical: This American Wife
On Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, Tony-nominated Slave Play playwright and theatre's biggest champion, Jeremy O. Harris, is one of the producers of this virtual reimagining of This American Wife, created by his Yale School of Drama pals Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, the duo behind the digital smash Circle Jerk. This American Wife is also a live Internet show as Breslin, Foley and Jakeem Dante Powell parse the Real Housewives phenomenon and its cultural influence. Tickets start at $25.

The Civilians: Life Studies
On Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, one of Off-Broadway's most inventive theatre companies, The Civilians (Gone Missing, Pretty Filthy), presents its spring gala, hosted by fabulous singer-songwriters Jo Lampert and Ada Westfall, and featuring performances by Andrew R. Butler (Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future) , singer-songwriter Jill Sobule and many other awesome indie theatre artists. Tickets are pay-what-you-wish.

Stars in the House: Wicked Game Night
On Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley host one of their popular Game Nights. This time, it's Elphabas Stephanie J. Block and Lilli Cooper versus Glindas Brittney Johnson, Alli Mauzey and Patti Murin. May the most popular divas win! Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.

San Francisco Ballet: Swan Lake
On Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, California's acclaimed San Francisco Ballet presents Swan Lake choreographed by the troupe's artistic director, Helgi Tomasson, and featuring sets and costumes by Tony-nominated designer Jonathan Fensom. Fall in love with Tchaikovsky's ballet all over again with this sumptuous production. Tickets are $29 and the recording is viewable until Wednesday, June 9.

Available to Watch Both Days

MCC Theater: Miscast21
Enjoy an evening of unexpected songs at MCC Theater's Miscast21 benefit. Every year, the Off-Broadway theatre hosts a gala featuring stage stars performing numbers from roles they would never traditionally play. In years past, videos of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Raúl Esparza singing "A Boy Like That" from West Side Story and Tina Fey and Tituss Burgess one-upping each other in "You're Nothing Without Me" from City of Angels have gone viral. Due to the pandemic, the event went online in 2020; Miscast21 is also a virtual event, allowing theatre fans everywhere a chance to enjoy the evening of kooky casting, which is often hilarious but also thought-provoking and poignant. This year's stellar lineup includes Annaleigh Ashford, Robin De Jesús, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Cheyenne Jackson, LaChanze, Idina Menzel, Billy Porter, Kelly Marie Tran, Patrick Wilson and a duet from Gavin Creel and Aaron Tveit, who memorably crooned "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent at Miscast 2016. Watch for free until Thursday on MCC's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.

Soho Theatre: Herding Cats
On Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET, a groundbreaking stage-cinema hybrid, this production of Lucinda Coxon's drama Herding Cats features Jassa Ahluwalia and Sophie Melville in person at London's Soho Playhouse, with Grey's Anatomy star Greg Germann performing live via video from New York. This high-tech setup suits the story about two millennial roommates, Justine and Michael, struggling to navigate their disconnected lives. Michael earns his living by chatting with strangers online, including boomer Saddo, who's grappling with his own intimacy issues. What's left to say when words can't bridge the gap? Tickets start at $19.

Lights on the Radio Tower
Five OHM Productions and Indie Theatrical present Lights on the Radio Tower, a new rock musical by Emily Goodson and Kevin James Thornton about an estranged brother and sister who reunite after their father's death to sift through the truama of their childhood. Tony nominee Gabriel Barre directs Broadway vet Carrie Manolakos (Dear Evan Hansen) and Max Sangerman in this two-hander about making up and moving on. Tickets are $15.

Red Bull Theater: Sejanus His Fall
NYC's Red Bull Theater, known for reimagining classics, presented a live reading of Sejanus His Fall on Monday, and you can watch a recording until Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Ben Jonson's 1603 tragedy centers on the ambitious title character, who serves as the right-hand man to the gloomy Roman emperor Tiberius. A starry cast performs this linguistically rich play, including Tony winners Stephen Spinella and Denis O'Hare, Tony nominee Keith David and Broadway regulars Matthew Rauch, Laila Robins and Tamara Tunie. Watch for free on Red Bull's YouTube channel though a $25 donation is suggested.

Mint Theater Company: The Fatal Weakness
Off Broadway's esteemed Mint Theater Company, which has been unearthing forgotten plays since 1992, presents a recording of The Fatal Weakness, George Kelly's last produced drama about a die-hard romantic who discovers her longtime husband is a lying cheat. Kristin Griffith, Victoria Mack and Cliff Bemis starred in this 2014 production, which was the play's first New York revival in 68 years. Watch for free until Sunday, June 27 on the Mint's website by clicking on the photo and entering your email address, no password required. Donations are encouraged and closed captions are available.

Breathe: A New Musical
In spring 2020, best-selling author Jodi Picoult was poised to make her Off Broadway debut with a musicalization of her young adult novel Between the Lines—then the pandemic hit. But she didn't sit around waiting for theatres to reopen. Instead, she and Timothy Allen McDonald conceived of a new digital musical, Breathe, about five disparate couples navigating the challenges of living through a pandemic. Directed by Tony nominee Jeff Calhoun and featuring numbers by five songwriting teams, the show boasts an impressive cast of Broadway favorites, including Kelli O'Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Denée Benton, Colin Donnell, Matt Doyle, Patti Murin and T. Oliver Reid. After what we've all been through, this may be the most relatable musical running right now! Tickets start at $25 and the recording is viewable until Friday, July 9.

Dixon Place: New Mony!
On Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET, downtown's invaluable Dixon Place presents Maria Camia's sci-fi puppet comedy New Mony!, which will be performed in person at the theatre and also streamed to at-home viewers. The hour-long work centers on a young woman in the human cloning industry, who embarks on an interstellar journey of self-discovery. Tickets start at $12.

PBS Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted
PBS Great Performances presents The Arts Interrupted, a new documentary about how artists and arts organizations have been coping during the pandemic. Vanessa Williams hosts the hour-long special, which includes interviews with seven-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein, who was starring in Moulin Rouge! when Broadway shut down; Jordana Leigh, the senior director of artistic programming for Lincoln Center; Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of New York's Public Theater; and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. There are also performances by Ballet X, the casts of the Broadway musicals Moulin Rouge! and Wicked; Renée Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Watch for free on Thirteen's website.

Animal Wisdom
Heather Christian's singular musical Animal Wisdom about her family's history of communing with the dead was a smash when it ran at Brooklyn's Bushwick Starr in 2017. During quarantine, the Obie-winning songwriter and her four-person band reinvented this tuneful séance for digital consumption in this stage-cinema hybrid, co-helmed by film director Amber McGinnis and stage director Emilyn Kowaleski. Before the pandemic, Christian was on the verge of breaking through with the buzzy Oratorio for Living Things at Ars Nova, but sadly that show only got a chance to play one preview before the industry shut down. (Even so, the musical won a 2021 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater.) With its spiritual insight and fiery blues, gospel and folk score, Animal Wisdom is the perfect introduction to a unique talent. Tickets start at $19 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, June 13.

Huntington Avenue Theatre: Black Beans Project
Boston's Huntington Avenue Theatre presents Black Beans Project, a new hour-long comedy by artist-in-residence Melinda Lopez and Broadway's Joel Perez (Fun Home, Sweet Charity) about two siblings who find solace in food and family during the pandemic. Jaime Castañeda directs this heartwarming and mouthwatering piece. Tickets start at $5 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, May 30. Closed captions are available.


Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: Kathryn Hahn, who stars in The Sisters Rosensweig on Thursday evening.