Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
Last week, the venerable Williamstown Theatre Festival announced that instead of completely cancelling its multi-show summer season, the productions would be reconceived as audio plays and musicals. But you don't need to wait until June to listen to compelling theatre. Audio recordings of hundreds of stage works are currently available to enjoy for free or at very low cost at these five websites.
An offshoot of the audiobook giant, Audible Theater has produced many live productions at its Minetta Lane venue, which were then recorded and released as audio plays, including The Half-Life of Marie Curie featuring Kate Mulgrew, Sakina's Restaurant written by and starring Aasif Mandvi, and Billy Crudup in Harry Clarke. Recently, Audible Theater has been expanding its reach, releasing audio versions of Broadway shows such as John Leguizamo's solo comedy Latin History for Morons and Sean Hayes in An Act of God, as well as the West End mounting of True West starring Kit Harington, and partnering with the Williamstown Theatre Festival to produce its upcoming audio summer fest. Find a complete list of offerings on Audible Theater's website but note that select titles are free through April 17.
L.A. Theatre Works
The nation's pioneering producer of audio theatre, this Los Angeles-based nonprofit has been recording and preserving stage productions for decades. There are more than 500 titles in its catalog, including The Importance of Being Earnest with Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell, Red starring Tony nominees Alfred Molina and Jonathan Groff, Glengarry Glen Ross featuring Joe Mantegna and Richard Dreyfuss, and Lips Together, Teeth Apart, which is being offered for free through the end of April to honor the late Terrence McNally. You can find a complete list of offerings on LATW's website.
Playing on Air
This podcast/radio show highlights short audio plays written specifically to be heard, not seen. Over the years, notable playwrights including Dominique Morisseau, Paul Rudnick, Hamish Linklater, and Pulitzer Prize winners David Lindsay-Abaire, John Patrick Shanley and David Auburn have contributed playlets performed by actors such as Bobby Cannavale, Michael C. Hall, Michelle Williams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Michael Urie. You can listen to all of Playing on Air's past productions for free on the website. New shorts will be released online every Sunday through May 31.
A new initiative from Off Broadway's Playwrights Horizons, Soundstage features commissioned audio works from an array of lauded dramatists. The inaugural offering, the musical PRIME by Heather Christian (whose buzzy Oratorio for Living Things closed early due to the current health crisis), debuted last week, and new 15- to 40-minute pieces will be released every Thursday. Participating playwrights include Robert O'Hara, Jordan Harrison, Qui Nguyen, Kirsten Childs, Jeremy O. Harris and Lucas Hnath, so expect boundary-pushing stories. You can listen to all Soundstage episodes for free on the theatre's website.
Broadway Podcast Network
Many of the offerings on this podcast hub are talk shows, some hosted by Broadway vets such as Josh Lamon, Kerry Butler and Ramin Karimloo. But a handful offer multi-episode narratives starring NYC stage regulars. Loveville High is a series of ten-minute musical romances set on prom night in Loveville, Ohio, and counts West Side Story's Isaac Cole Powell, Once on This Island's Hailey Kilgore and Oklahoma! Tony winner Ali Stroker among its cast. Bleeding Love: A Post-Apocalyptic New Musical, which debuts in late April, is a three-episode love under lockdown story starring Annie Golden, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Tony nominees Marc Kudisch and Sarah Stiles. And Once More, with Dragons! is a mash-up of Dungeons & Dragons and musicals, with each episode a new improvised fantasy tale. Listen to those and other podcasts for free on the website.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.