Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
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 weekend, Friday, May 14 to Sunday, May 16, for free or at low cost.
The Shows Must Go On!: Cats
On Friday at 2 p.m. ET, The Shows Must Go On! presents Cats in honor of the musical's 40th anniversary! No, not 2019's critically derided movie. Recorded at London's Adelphi Theatre in 1998, this Cats is a recreation of the original 1981 stage production and stars Elaine Paige as the grizzled Grizabella, Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy and Sir John Mills in one of his final roles as Gus the Theatre Cat. Ah, what a memory! Watch for free until Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on YouTube.
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre: John Gabriel Borkman
On Friday at 6 p.m. ET, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre presents a reading of Henrik Ibsen's classic play John Gabriel Borkman, about a mother and a morally corrupt father at odds over their son's future. John R. Briggs adapted the play, which stars an all-Asian cast. Register for the free Zoom link.
The Metropolitan Opera: The Audition
On Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents The Audition, director Susan Froemke's feature-length documentary about the Met's 2007 National Council Auditions, as 10 singers compete for a cash prize from the institution's stage. We won't give away the names of the contestants, but many did end up landing parts in future Met productions! Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Der Rosenkavalier, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Breathe: A New Musical
On Friday at 8 p.m. ET, 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.
Broadway Stories & Songs: Jose Llana
On Friday at 8 p.m. ET, Tony-winning orchestrator and music director, Ted Sperling, continues his live online concert series Broadway Stories & Songs, showcasing the talents and tales of New York stage favorites. This weekend's guest is Jose Llana, who 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, as well as Here Lies Love at The Public Theater. Tickets are $25.
PBS Great Performances: The Arts Interrupted
On Friday at 9 p.m. ET, 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 will also be 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 TV on PBS Thirteen or the channel's website.
Beginning on Saturday: 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 fiery blues, gospel and folk score and spiritual insight, Animal Wisdom is the perfect introduction to a unique talent. Tickets start at $19 and the recording is viewable until Sunday, June 13.
Broadway Stories & Songs: Jose Llana
On Saturday at 2 p.m. ET, Tony-winning orchestrator and music director, Ted Sperling, continues his online concert series Broadway Stories & Songs, showcasing the talents and tales of New York stage favorites. This weekend's guest is Jose Llana, who 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, as well as Here Lies Love at The Public Theater. Tickets are $25. Note: this is a replay of Friday night's live concert.
Play-PerView: Bad Jews
On Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, Play-PerView presents a live reading of Bad Jews, Joshua Harmon's dark comedy about a Jewish family grappling with issues of faith, assimilation and romance in the wake of their beloved grandfather's death. This event reunites cast members from Roundabout Theatre Company's 2014 production, including Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger and Michael Zegen, along with newcomer Justine Lupe. Daniel Aukin once again directs. Tickets start at $5 and proceeds go to Roundabout Theatre Company. Can't make the live performance? For $20, you can watch a recording until Wednesday, May 19.
The Metropolitan Opera: Il Barbiere di Siviglia
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents Tony winner Bartlett Sher's sparkling mounting of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini's comic masterpiece about Figaro, a resourceful barber who helps a couple out of a hairy situation. Christopher Maltman plays the sassy stylist in this 2014 production alongside Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Maurizo Muraro and Paata Burchuladze. Watch for free until Sunday at noon on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's offering, the documentary The Audition, until 6:30 p.m. ET today.
Stars in the House: Motown the Musical Reunion
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, I heard it through the grapevine... it's a Motown the Musical reunion on Stars in the House! Charl Brown, who earned a Tony nomination for his performance as Smokey Robinson in the show, guests hosts and welcomes Brandon Victor Dixon, Valisia LeKae and other former castmates. Watch for free on YouTube though donations to The Actors Fund are encouraged.
Company of Fools: Gruesome Playground Injuries
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, Company of Fools presents an in-person production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, which will also be streamed to at-home viewers. Written by Tony nominee Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) and directed by TDF's own Tyler Riley, this two-hander chronicles the 30-year relationship between a dysfunctional pair of pals, who are bonded by pain and suffering. Tickets are $30 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
Metropolitan Playhouse: Her Opinion of His Story
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, Metropolitan Playhouse, an Obie-winning company that revives forgotten works, presents Her Opinion of His Story, William Dean Howells' charming social satire about a suitor so scared to woo the woman he loves, he presents her with his prose instead of a proposal. John Long directs Whitney Andrews, Wendy Merritt and Benjamin Russell. Watch for free on the company's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
The Seth Concert Series: Linda and Laura Benanti
On Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, apparently, hosting a daily online talk show 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 with Broadway stars for the past decade. This year he brings the show online and today's headliners are Tony winner Laura Benanti and her mother, Linda Benanti. If you've ever wondered where the star of My Fair Lady, She Loves Me, The Sound of Music, Gypsy and social media got her talents, it's clearly in the genes. After appearing in regional theatre and the 1980 Broadway revival of Brigadoon, Linda has spent the past four decades working as a sought-after vocal coach. Over the last few years, she's returned to the stage in concerts with her daughter, and they are as adorable and harmonious as you'd expect. Tickets are $25. The 3 p.m. performance is live; 8 p.m. is the replay.
The Metropolitan Opera: Roberto Devereux
On Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera presents David McVicar's moving 2016 mounting of Roberto Devereux about the complicated love affair between Queen Elizabeth I (Sondra Radvanovsky) and the title character (Matthew Polenzani). Elina Garanca and Mariusz Kwiecien costar. Watch for free for 23 hours after the start time on the Metropolitan Opera's website. You can still stream yesterday's opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, until noon ET today.
MCC Theater: Miscast21
On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, get ready for an evening of unexpected songs with MCC Theater's Miscast21 benefit. Every year, the Off Broadway theatre hosts a gala featuring stage stars performing numbers from roles they would never 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 unexpectedly 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. This is a surprise-filled must-see for musical lovers. Watch for free until Thursday, May 20 on MCC's YouTube channel though donations are encouraged.
Company of Fools: Gruesome Playground Injuries
On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, Company of Fools presents an in-person production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, which will also be streamed to at-home viewers. Written by Tony nominee Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) and directed by TDF's own Tyler Riley, this two-hander chronicles the 30-year relationship between a dysfunctional pair of pals, who are bonded by pain and suffering. Tickets are $30 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
Broadway's Best Shows Spotlight on Plays: Watch on the Rhine
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 Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman. An acclaimed cast, including Tony and Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, Carla Gugino and Tony nominees Mary Beth Peil and Jeremy Shamos, star in this political thriller centering on a German anti-fascist and his American wife, who travel to Washington, D.C. in 1940 during the rise of the Nazi regime. Last seen on Broadway 40 years ago, this powerful play is an undersung classic. Sarna Lapine directs. Tickets are $18 and the recording is viewable until Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Proceeds benefit The Actors Fund.
Keen Company: The Year of Magical Thinking
Off Broadway's acclaimed Keen Company presents an encore stream of The Year of Magical Thinking starring the incomparable Kathleen Chalfant, one of NYC's busiest and most beloved stage performers. Adapted from Joan Didion's best-selling memoir, this one-woman play traces the author's journey of grief following the sudden death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, while caring for their ill daughter. It's an insightful heartbreaker with unexpected wit and loads of wisdom. Tickets are $25 and the recording is viewable until Sunday.
Roundabout Theatre Company: The Refocus Project: Spunk
Roundabout Theatre Company partners with Black Theatre United for The Refocus Project, an initiative to diversify the canon of classic plays. The program kicks off with a series of readings of undersung works by 20th-century Black dramatists. The fourth play is Spunk by Harlem Renaissance icon Zora Neale Hurston. In this music-filled play, an affair between a married woman and a wandering troubadour rocks a small Southern town in the 1930s. Hurston penned this stage adaptation of her own short story, but it was thought to be lost until the manuscript was rediscovered in 1997. Lili-Anne Brown directs an ensemble cast led by Kelvin Roston, Jr. and Nicole Michelle Haskins as the scandalous lovers. RSVP to receive the free viewing link but donations to Black Theatre United are encouraged. The recording is viewable until Monday.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1, 4, 7 and 10 p.m. ET, come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway! Catch the acclaimed West End revival of 42nd Street about a spunky chorus girl who goes out a youngster but comes back a star after the leading lady gets injured. Filmed at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2018, the lavish production features jaw-dropping tap numbers and iconic Broadway songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin including "We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway" and the title tune. Bonnie Langford plays the sidelined star Dorothy Brock and Clare Halse is Peggy Sawyer, the nobody who doesn't throw away her shot. The ultimate backstage musical! Tickets are $15.
New York Theatre Workshop: Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord
On Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, New York Theatre Workshop presents acclaimed performance artist and activist Kristina Wong in her latest solo show Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord. A searing satire about her pandemic activities, the show traces her evolution from starving artist to master of a homemade face mask empire, as she enlists friends, family (even her own mother!) and strangers to craft PPE for our under-resourced health care system. A hilarious and heartfelt critique of America's failings and our reliance on women of color for labor. Tickets are $10.
Goodman Theatre: The Sound Inside
On Friday at 8:30 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, Chicago's acclaimed Goodman Theatre presents Adam Rapp's Tony-nominated play The Sound Inside about an ailing literature professor who forms an unexpected relationship with a precocious but mysterious student. Performed live on stage and streamed to an at-home audience, the production is helmed by Goodman's artistic director Robert Falls and stars Mary Beth Fisher and John Drea. Tickets are $30 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
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.
PBS Great Performances: Uncle Vanya
PBS Great Performances presents Conor McPherson's adaptation of Uncle Vanya, Anton Chekhov's heartbreaking tale of loneliness and longing. Toby Jones stars in the title role, an unhappy man who believes life has unfairly passed him by. Richard Armitage, Rosalind Eleazar, Aimee Lou Wood, Anna Calder Marshall, Dearbhla Molloy, Roger Allam and Peter Wight costar in this stage-cinema hybrid, which was filmed live at London's Harold Pinter Theatre, where the production had enjoyed a critically acclaimed but truncated run due to the pandemic. Watch for free on PBS Thirteen's website.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival: Black Feminist Video Game
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET, Oregon Shakespeare Festival presents a live online performance of Black Feminist Video Game, Darrell Alejandro Holnes' inventive and interactive show about Jonas, a biracial teen on the autism spectrum attempting to win a classic 2D game along with the girl of his dreams. His journey unfolds on Twitch with the audience helping (or hindering) Jonas' progress along the way. Christon Andell, Kyla Jeanne Butts and Starr Kirkland star and Victoria Collado directs. Log in ready to join the action! Tickets are $10.
Tales from the Wings: A Lincoln Center Theater Celebration!
Lincoln Center Theater presents Tales from the Wings, a celebration of the institution's productions past and future. In between clips of acclaimed plays and musicals, artists who've triumphed at the theatre, including actors Rosemary Harris, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Ruthie Ann Miles, Steven Pasquale and Paulo Szot, directors Lileana Blain-Cruz and Bartlett Sher, and playwright Ayad Akhtar, share backstage stories and a peek at the upcoming season. Watch for free until Monday on YouTube though donations are encouraged.
The Joyce Theater: Stephen Petronio Company
Chelsea dance haven The Joyce continues its digital season with the lauded Stephen Petronio Company. The program features five works, either new or reimagined for online viewing, including Trisha Brown's 1973 piece Group Primary Accumulation. Tickets are $25 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount. The recording is viewable until Wednesday, May 26.
Planet of the Grapes Live
On Friday at 10 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, it's the final weekend for Peter Michael Marino's off-kilter creation Planet of the Grapes Live, a toy theatre send-up of the 1968 movie The Planet of the Apes but with talking fruit instead of monkeys. Marino manipulates a cast of grapes and corks as they fight for supremacy on miniature sets made from household items and craft supplies. Expect plenty of puns and pop-culture references as he performs this parody live on stream. Tickets start at $25 but if you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.
Top image: Elaine Paige in Cats. Photograph courtesy of the Really Useful Group.