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27 Stage Performances to Watch This Weekend, May 16-17

Date: May 16, 2020


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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 this weekend, Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17, for free (or at very low cost).

All Weekend

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats
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 returns one of her nine lives. Watch for free through Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on YouTube.

Simon McBurney's The Encounter
London's Complicité streams 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. This 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 anytime through Friday, May 22 on Complicité's YouTube channel.

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 anytime through Thursday, May 21 at 2 p.m. ET on the National Theatre's YouTube channel.

Lincoln Center Theater: Pipeline
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.

Stratford Festival: The Tempest
Ontario's venerable Stratford Festival continues its Shakespeare On Film series with The Tempest starring six-decade stage vet Martha Henry as Prospero the vengeful sorcerer. Stratford's artistic director Antoni Cimolino helmed this well-received 2018 production, which you can watch for free on the Stratford Festival's YouTube channel.

New York City Ballet: Pulcinella Variations
NYCB continues its online spring season with resident choreographer Justin Peck'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.

The Public Theater: What Do We Need to Talk About?
Last month, The Public Theater premiered What Do We Need to Talk About? 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. Watch for free on The Public Theater's YouTube channel.

Beth Morrison Projects: The Source
Indie opera incubator Beth Morrison Projects co-commissioned The Source, an oratorio composed by Ted Hearne with text by Mark Doten about Chelsea Manning, a former United States Army soldier who gave classified documents to WikiLeaks. Recorded at BAM in 2014, this celebrated 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.

Victory Gardens Theater: Fun Home
Chicago's lauded Victory Gardens Theater is streaming its 2017 production of Fun Home. Written by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, the Tony-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 presents 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
Earlier this week, San Diego's Old Globe premiered In-Zoom by Tony-winning performer and consummate clown Bill Irwin. In this 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.

Repertorio Español: Vagón (Boxcar)
One of NYC's most celebrated Latinx theatre companies, Repertorio Español, is streaming its production of Silvia González's Vagón, inspired by a true story about five men trying to cross the border in a boxcar. Performed in Spanish with English subtitles. Tickets are free but required in order to get the viewing link; donations are encouraged.

Al Hirschfeld: Socially Distant Theater
So this is an online exhibition, not a performance, but we couldn't resist sharing this wonderful collection of Al Hirschfeld caricatures of actors in solo shows, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jackie Mason and Mandy Patinkin. No one captures the essence of stage stars like the late illustrator! Check out his theatrical portraits for free online.

Saturday, May 16

MCC LiveLabs One Acts: Frankie & Will
Earlier this week, MCC Theater kicked off its new LiveLabs series 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 a recording of the premiere for free through Saturday on MCC Theater's YouTube channel.

Stars in the House Presents Happy Days
On Saturday at 2 p.m. ET, Stars in the House presents a reading of Samuel Beckett's masterpiece Happy Days, starring real-life spouses Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub. Although it's technically a two-hander, the spotlight is squarely on Winnie, a woman buried up to her waist, trying to make the best of life while her mostly out-of-sight husband grunts behind her. Considering how, like Winnie, we're all stuck to varying degrees right now, the play is sure to have a new resonance. Watch for free on YouTube.

Martha Graham Dance Company: Hérodiade
On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET, the Martha Graham Dance Company presents Hérodiade, a 1944 duet by the modern dance great based on Stéphane Mallarmé's poem about Herodias and Salome. In addition to recordings of two complete performances, one with the original cast of Martha Graham and May O'Donnell and the other filmed just last year, this Martha Matinee also features a film that weaves together highlights from five other mountings of the work. Watch for free on the dance company's YouTube channel.

Irish Repertory Theatre: Molly Sweeney
On Saturday 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.

Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band at Feinstein's/54 Below
On Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET, Feinstein's/54 Below shares a 2016 recording of Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band concert, which puts an old-school jazzy spin on show tunes. Bandleader Rosen leads a brassy ensemble of 17 while Broadway luminaries such as Tootsie Tony winner Santino Fontana, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical star Adrienne Warren and Tony nominee Benjamin Walker belt out familiar numbers from classic and contemporary musicals. Watch for free on the club's YouTube channel. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.

Rigoletto at the Met
On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares its 2013 mounting of Verdi's Rigoletto, starring Diana Damrau, Oksana Volkova, Piotr Beczala and Željko Lucic, conducted by Michele Mariotti. 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 offering, Lucia di Lammermoor with Joan Sutherland, until 6:30 p.m. today.

Chita Rivera on Stars in the House
On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, Broadway legend Chita Rivera holds court on Stars in the House, and she's bringing some of her best friends with her. Given all the A-listers she's worked with over the decades, we can't wait to see who shows up. Hosted by Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, this twice daily show benefits The Actors' Fund. You can watch for free on YouTube.

Guild Hall: Portrait of Tennessee Williams
Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, venerable character actor Harris Yulin celebrates the legendary playwright with this live-streamed tribute. Subtitled "The Words of Tennessee Williams," this reading is a mélange of text from his letters, essays and plays interpreted by Yulin, Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Tedra Millan Tickets are free but required in order to get the viewing link; donations are encouraged.

Sunday, May 17

Stars in the House Debuts Plays in the House Jr.
On Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, Stars in the House premieres a new weekly event: Plays in the House Jr. On Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m., hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley present live play readings for grown-ups. Starting this Sunday, their daughter, Juli Wesley, kicks off a new series of live play readings for young audiences starring young actors. The inaugural performance is Lauren Gunderson's I and You about two mismatched high schoolers unexpectedly bonding while studying Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Dear Evan Hansen's Andrew Barth Feldman and Samantha Williams (Caroline, or Change) star. Watch for free on YouTube.

Jam Session with The Bengsons
On Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, New York Theatre Workshop welcomes The Bengsons for a live Instagram concert. The folk-rock songwriting spouses had a hit at the theatre a few years back with their musical memoir Hundred Days. Expect numbers from that show as well as their other stage projects. Watch for free on NYTW's Instagram page.

Grand Hotel: The 25th Anniversary Concert at Feinstein's/54 Below
On Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET, Feinstein's/54 Below shares a recording of Grand Hotel: The 25th Anniversary Concert, a celebration of the Tony-nominated musical featuring many of its original stars including Liliane Montevecchi, Karen Akers, Timothy Jerome, Walter Willison, Ben George and Ken Jennings. Watch for free on the club's YouTube channel. This performance won't be available after-the-fact.

Nabucco at the Met
On Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, the Metropolitan Opera shares its 2017 mounting of Verdi's Nabucco, starring Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas, Plácido Domingo and Dmitry Belosselskiy, 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 offering, Rigoletto, until 6:30 p.m. today.

Smash Reunion on Stars in the House
On Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, songwriter and raconteur Marc Shaiman guest hosts Stars in the House, and he's bringing cast members from the NBC series Smash with him. Leads Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty are set to appear, and they will undoubtedly be dishing about the upcoming Bombshell (the show within a show on Smash) concert happening next Wednesday. This twice daily series hosted supports The Actors Fund, and you can watch for free on the organization's YouTube channel.


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

Top image: Fisayo Akinade and Sule Rimi in Barber Shop Chronicles at the National Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.