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Alan Cumming
Photograph: Steve VaccarielloAlan Cumming

Broadway's Best Shows has a new season of star-studded virtual theater

Top actors perform plays by major authors in a virtual theater series.

By
Adam Feldman
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After a test run of three virtual productions in May, the streaming series Broadway’s Best Shows has returned this fall with Spotlight on Plays, an exciting lineup of seven plays by major writers. The casts are packed with stage and screen stars, including John Malkovich, Patti LuPone, Morgan Freeman, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Alan Cumming, Samara Wiley, Laura Linney, S. Epatha Merkerson and David Alan Grier. Since Broadway itself is dark through at least June 2021, these events promise to be among the best ways for theater lovers to keep the flame.

Proceeds from the series will benefit the Actors Fund. Tickets are sold exclusively through TodayTix on a pay-what-you-can scale starting at $5. Tickets for the remaining fall events are available for purchase now. The shows go live at 8pm EST (5pm PDT, 1am BST) and can be viewed for 72 hours afterward. 

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The colorful Jeffrey Richards, whose productions won eight Tony Awards between 2005 and 2014, serves as executive producer, and the lineup partially reflects his history over the past 20 years. (He has had a particular affinity for the plays of David Mamet.) In implicit response to criticism about the makeup of the fall slate—in which all seven plays are by male writers, all but one of them white—the series has announced that the spring edition of its series will consist entirely of plays by women, three of them BIPOC.

Here's what's next from Broadway's Best Shows:

Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 8pm EST (5pm PST, 1am GMT): Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya
All of the readings in Broadway's Best Shows so far have been revivals, but this week the series departs from form to present a world premiere. The reliably misanthropic Neil LaBute (reasons to be pretty) offers a new adaptation of Uncle Vanya, perhaps the most poignant of Anton Chekhov's masterpieces: a bitterly comic meditation on frustrated love and the pitiful wages of self-sacrifice in late-19th-century Russia. Alan Cumming (Cabaret), Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale) and Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) lead a top-drawer cast that also includes Manik Choksi, K. Todd Freeman, Mia Katigbak, Anson Mount and the great Ellen Burstyn. Danya Taymor (Heroes of the Fourth Turning) directs, and Gabriel Ebert serves as narrator.

Samira Wiley | Photograph: Courtesy of the artist

Complete fall season for Broadway's Best Shows:

Wednesday, October 14 at 8pm EDT (5pm PST, 1am BST): Gore Vidal's The Best Man
Starring John Malkovich, Zachary Quinto, Morgan Freeman, Vanessa Williams, Phylicia Rashad, Matthew Broderick, Stacy Keach, Reed Birney, Katie Finneran, Julie Halston, Robert Sella, Robert Krulwich, Lee Wilkoff, Whitney Winfield and Elizabeth Ashley. Directed by Michael Wilson

Tuesday, October 20, 2020: Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth
Starring Lucas Hedges, Paul Mescal and Grace Van Patten. Directed by Lila Neugebauer.

Thursday, October 29, 2020: David Mamet’s Race
Starring David Alan Grier, Ed O’Neill, Alicia Stith and Richard Thomas. Directed by Phylicia Rashad.

Thursday, November 12, 2020: David Mamet’s Boston Marriage
Starring Patti LuPone, Rebecca Pidgeon and Sophia Macy. Directed by David Mamet.

Thursday, November 19, 2020: Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya
Starring Alan Cumming, Samira Wiley, Constance Wu, Ellen Burstyn, Manik Choksi, K. Todd Freeman, Mia Katigbak and Anson Mount. Narrated by Gabriel Ebert. Adapted by Neil LaBute. Directed by Danya Taymor.

December 3, 2020: Donald Margulies’s Time Stands Still
Starring the original Broadway cast: Eric Bogosian, Brian d’Arcy James, Laura Linney and Alicia Silverstone. Directed by Daniel Sullivan.

December 10, 2020: Robert O’Hara’s Barbecue
Starring Carrie Coon, Colman Domingo, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Annie McNamara, S. Epatha Merkerson, Laurie Metcalf, David Morse, Kristine Nielsen, Tamberla Perry and Heather Simms. Directed by Robert O’Hara.

Spring 2021 (dates and details to be announced):
Seven shows including Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig, Paula Vogel's The Baltimore Waltz, Adrienne Kennedy's The Ohio State Murders, Sarah Ruhl's Dear Elizabeth, Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play, Pearl Cleage's Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous and Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine.

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