Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
In-person shows have been back for over a year now, but sometimes we want to get our theatre fix at home. Thankfully, there are still wonderful stage performances to watch online. Our carefully curated list spotlights the five best performances to stream this weekend, Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21, for free or at low cost.
Streaming until Wednesday, August 31 for FREE
PBS Great Performances presents Conor McPherson's striking 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 production, which was filmed live at London's Harold Pinter Theatre where the show enjoyed a critically acclaimed but truncated run due to the pandemic.
Streaming until Tuesday, August 23 for FREE
PBS Thirteen presents a different mounting of Uncle Vanya, this one adapted and directed by Tony winner Richard Nelson (The Apple Family Plays) and recorded live at NYC's Hunter Theater Project in 2018. Nelson's frequent collaborator, the fabulous character actor Jay O. Sanders, stars as the morose title character in this intimate and affecting production.
Streaming all weekend for FREE
If you Google troubled genius, one of the first names that comes up is Bob Fosse. The inimitable Oscar- and Tony-winning dancer-choreographer-writer-director is remembered as much for his bad boy behavior and vices as his projects, which include Chicago, Sweet Charity and The Pajama Game on Broadway and Cabaret and All That Jazz on screen. Lucia Helenka's hour-long 2019 documentary examines Fosse's extraordinary and self-destructive life and features interviews from artists who knew him as well as a special dance tribute to his iconic style.
Streaming until Saturday, August 27 for $20 per show
Attention avant-garde theatre lovers: New Ohio Theatre's 29th annual, Obie-winning fest is all about emerging artists taking risks. Over the past two months, Ice Factory has presented seven works in progress from cutting-edge NYC companies on stage in the West Village, but you can also stream recordings of all the shows at home. Highlights include ISLA, a devised piece using actors and shadow puppetry to tell the true story of one family's escape from Cuba; the surreal, Spanish-language immigration meditation Acheron: The River of Tragedy and the operatic monologue Salt about one woman's dead-end life.
Streaming Friday, August 19 at 9:45 p.m. ET for $15
Aspiring stage stars sing duets with Broadway vets in this concert series conceived and curated by Megan Minutillo. Teal Wicks (The Cher Show), Michael Wartella (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Rose Hemingway (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Jonalyn Saxer (Mean Girls) croon show tunes with talented up-and-comers. If you prefer to attend in person, click here for info.
Watch on PBS Thirteen on TV Sunday, August 21 at 11 p.m. and Monday, August 22 at 10 p.m. ET for FREE
You have to watch this one in real time on broadcast TV, there's no streaming option. But this fascinating play has such an incredible backstory, it's worth staying up to catch live. Recorded on stage at La MaMa in 2017 and directed by the perennially inventive Edward Einhorn, The Last Cyclist is a 1944 dark comedy that was almost lost to history. Written and rehearsed by Jewish prisoners at the Terezín concentration camp, the play was shut down by the Nazis because its absurdist story was a bold indictment of their fascism. When patients escape from an insane asylum, they hatch a plot to murder all bicyclists and their families because they loathe their bike-riding doctor. After decades of intense research, playwright Naomi Patz reconstructed and reimagined the original script by Karel Švenk, who died on a Nazi death march.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: Toby Jones and Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya, which is streaming for free through the end of the month. Photo by Johan Persson.