The isolation crisis has had a devastating effect on the performing arts. Broadway is shut down, and the ban on gatherings in New York extends to all other performance spaces as well. So the show must go online—and, luckily, streaming video makes that possible. Here are some of the best theater, opera, dance and cabaret performances you can watch today without leaving your house or apartment, many of which will help you support artists at a difficult time. We update this list completely every day, so please feel free to bookmark it and check back daily. (All show times are in Eastern Time.)
FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020
2pm: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Andrew Lloyd Webber is rolling out a free streaming version of one of his hit musicals once a week, starting today. Each show drops on Friday at 2pm on YouTube and remains there for 48 hours; you can read all about it here. The initial public offering is Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's first significant collaboration, a cheeky pop-rock Bible story about a flashy dresser who gets sold out by his bros. This direct-to-video 1999 film version is pure camp and a lot of fun. A frequently shirtless Donny Osmond plays the title role; Maria Friedman is the Narrator, and Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins have cameos.
2pm: Stars in the House: Orfeh and Andy Karl
Showtune savant and SiriusXM host Seth Rudetsky (Disaster!) and his husband, producer James Wesley, are the animating forces behind this ambitious and very entertaining new series to benefit the Actors Fund. Twice a day, at 2pm and 8pm, they play host to a different theater star for a live, chatty interview interspersed with songs. (Rudetsky is an expert at sussing out good stories.) Dr. Jon LaPook, the chief medical correspondent for CBS News, provides periodic updates on public health; surprise virtual visitors are common as well. The main guests at today’s matinee are one of musical theater's royal couples: power belter and blue-eyed-soul recording artist Orfeh and her charming husband, Rocky dreamboat Andy Karl, who most recently shared a Broadway stage in Pretty Woman.
2pm: Wild Child in the City
Transforma Theatre Inc.’s Tjaša Ferme, the creator of The Female Role Model Project, details her Kafkaesque search for a decent apartment in New York City in this absurdist solo comedy. Ana Margineanu, of the immersive theater group PopUp Theatrics, directs the show, which has been modified for remote broadcast; Ferme performs it from home through April 5, and audiences can pay what they wish.
Wild Child in the City // Photograph: Courtesy Tjaša Ferme
3:30pm: Play in Your Bathtub
Theater, take me away! Erin B. Mee and her theater company, This Is Not a Theatre Company, specialize in immersive, site-specific works. In response to the current situation, the troupe invites you to immerse yourself more literally by listening to this interactive “audio spa” while soaking in your bath (or at least a foot bath). Candles are optional; home participation is encouraged—there will be singing and splashy dancing—as are donations to the company in an amount of your choice.
5pm: Folksbiene Live!
More than a century old, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene recently had a surprise breakout hit with its Yiddish-language production of Fiddler on the Roof. In this afternoon’s edition of its Folksbiene Live! series, billed as "an online celebration of Yiddish culture," Folksbiene regular Joe Mace shares a collection of songs in English Yiddish and “a few languages in between.”
6:30pm: Bright Lights, Big City in Concert
The swanky midtown cabaret nightclub Feinstein’s/54 Below continues its #54BelowatHome series with a live-streamed archived show viewable for one night only on YouTube. Christy Altomare, Matt Doyle, Annie Golden, Taylor Iman Jones, Julia Murney and Margo Seibert are among the musical-theater stars who gathered last year for a 20th-anniversary relighting of Paul Scott Goodman's 1999 Off Broadway musical, adapted from Jay McInerney's era-shaping novel.
7:30pm: Isolating Together: A Virtual Toy Theater Festival
Miniaturist maestros from around the world convene virtually on the Facebook page of Great Small Works for a delightful two-night celebration of micropuppetry. John Bell plays host; 20 artists or groups of artists have filmed and submitted their teensy creations. Yesterday’s half can be viewed here.
7:30pm: The Metropolitan Opera: Les Pêcheurs de Perles
The Met continues its immensely popular rollout of past performances, recorded in HD and viewable for free. A different archival production goes live at 7:30pm each night and remains online for the next 23 hours. This week’s eclectic lineup continues with a 2016 dive into Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and starring Diana Damrau, Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien.
8pm: Stars in the House: Randy Rainbow
See 2pm above. The evening edition of this twice-daily interview show features the hilarious Randy Rainbow, who has rocketed to internet fame in viral videos of his genuinely witty parody songs and cleverly edited faux interviews. He approaches both politics and entertainment with a perfectly arched eyebrow and nails that are polished and sharp.
8pm: La MaMa: Downtown Variety: Take 3
La MaMa and CultureHub serve up a weekly virtual coffeehouse in the spirit of La MaMa’s deep East Village roots, featuring short acts of music, theater, dance, comedy, A/V performance and more. Artists participating in this edition include Bad Buka, Kendall Cornell, Jasmine Hearn, Tom Lee, Heather Litteer, Tareke Ortiz, Daniel Pineiro and the witty queer writer and activist Justin Sayre.
8pm: Play-PerView: Family Friday: LIVE from Putnam County
The virtual-theater initiative Play-PerView focuses on the family in the second edition of its weekly series of interviews, hangouts and performances by members of notable theater clans. This installment features Celia Keenan-Bolger and her husband, John Ellison Conlee, who are joined by CKB’s fellow graduates of the Broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: James Monroe Iglehart and Derrick Baskin. Also, Colt Coeur artistic director Adrienne Campbell-Holt and [title of show]’s lovable Hunter Bell drop in to chat about their new musical, Other World. Proceeds from all Play-PerView events go to arts organizations affected by the COVID-19 virus; this one costs $5–$25 and benefits Colt Coeur and the Parent Artist Advocacy League.
8pm: Life on Earth
This Is Not a Theatre Company, which is also offering Play in Your Bathtub today (see above), presents a “multinational, multilingual, durational” adaptation of Charles Mee’s postmodern dance-theater piece Heaven on Earth, as experienced via the app Discord. Expect a strange collage of found text, video and occasional song; participants are invited to interact with the characters during the show, or at least try to.
8:30pm: Trump Lear
You may know David Carl from his portrayal of Gary Busey in his standout one-man comedy show, David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man Hamlet. Now Carl plays an actor named Carl David (try to keep up), who evokes the wrath of Donald Trump by portraying the President in a solo version of King Lear, Shakespeare's portrait of a senescent ruler whose vanity tears his country apart. Carl now performs the show live on Zoom from his home in Brooklyn. Tickets are $12.
8:30pm: Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies
In this 90-minute solo show, platformed by ShowShepherd and streamed on Facebook, Jessica Sherr raises a cup to Davis in a tribute to the silver-screen legend, set on the night of the 1939 Academy Awards. Karen Carpenter directs.
9pm: Teenage Dick
Chicago’s Theater Wit offers a novel rollout for the digital version of its planned run of Mike Lew's dark comedy, which imagines the hunchback king of Shakespeare's Richard III as an American teen with cerebral palsy (played by MacGregor Arney) who is dead set on becoming president of his senior class. The company filmed this performance before getting shut down, and although it may take a while for viewers to adjust to the format, the production gathers strength as it moves from broad comedy into teenage tragedy. (We liked the play a lot when it was at the Public in 2018.) The show is streamed on Vimeo through April 19 according to the planned schedule of the original run, with 98 people permitted to watch per night. A live post-show discussion follows.
9pm: Steve Watts
Once a familiar face at NYC piano bars including the Duplex and Bar Nine, the snuggly and beloved Steve Watts has since moved to Wisconsin, where there may be fewer nightclubs but at least his vote will count. In his now-weekly Friday gig—part of Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s Safer At Home Performance Series—he performs 90 minutes of piano-friendly favorites by folks like the Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie and Billy Joel.
BONUS (4pm–9:30pm): Marie’s Crisis Virtual Piano Bar
The beloved West Village institution keeps the show tunes rolling merrily along every night of the week. Read all about it here. Join the Maries Group page on Facebook to watch from home, and don’t forget to tip the pianist and staff. Tonight’s scheduled pianists are Kenney Green (Venmo: @Kenneth-Green-5) and Brandon James Gwinn (Venmo: @brandonjamesg).
BONUS: National Theatre at Home: One Man, Two Guvnors
Thanks to its NT Live series, London’s venerable National Theatre has a treasure trove of excellent recordings of past productions—and now the NT is streaming one play per week for free, every Thursday on YouTube. (You get the full ensuing week to catch each one.) Kicking things off in very high spirits indeed is Richard Bean’s daffy 2011 farce One Man, Two Guvnors, a 1960s update of the 1743 Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters. This is the show that made James Corden a major star—and won him a Tony—and it’s easy to see why. As Time Out’s David Cote wrote of the 2012 Broadway production: “Not enough praise can be heaped on Corden’s physical genius, whether trying to lift an improbably heavy trunk, getting into a knock-down, drag-out fight with himself or dragooning audience volunteers into the madness.” The play can be viewed through April 8, when it cedes its place to Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre.
BONUS: The Siblings Play
In Ren Dara Santiago's debut play, set in 2014 Harlem, a teenage girl and her two brothers try to make ends meet and raise each other up in the absence of their too-young parents. Jenna Worsham directs for Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, where Santiago has a residency this year. The production was in previews when theaters got shut down—but this week the Rattlestick has made a recording of the production viewable at home for $15. (The video will stay up through Sunday, April 5, The Siblings Play’s original end date.)
BONUS: The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues
Since 1995, the 24 Hour Plays series has set itself a challenge: to write, cast and perform new playlets in the span of a single night and day. In this variation on that theme—which the group has now been doing for three weeks—20 leading writers create monologues for 20 top actors, who record them and send them in for online broadcast. On Tuesdays from 6pm through midnight, a new monologue goes live every 15 minutes on the 24 Hours Plays’ Instagram feed; the monologues remain viewable afterward. Among the highlights of the latest batch are the great Elizabeth Marvel in Jason Grote’s “Elizabeth in the Barn”, Debra Monk in Max Posner’s “When Jewish People Die”, Alison Wright in David Cross’s “Day 53”, and T.R. Knight in Donald Margulies’s “Transition.”
Elizabeth Marvel in "Elizabeth in the Barn"
BONUS: Ethan Slater sings “The Ballad of Czolgosz”
Ethan Slater (SpongeBob SquarePants) was to have played the Balladeer in Classic Stage Company’s revival of the Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's darkly brilliant 1990 musical, Assassins, which follows a group of president killers as they plead their demented causes and bemoan their exclusion for the American Dream. In this excellent four-minute clip, Slater and band members from the production share a number about the man who shot William McKinley in 1901, offering a tantalizing glimpse of what we hope to be able to see in person sometime soon. (The video is intended as a fund-raiser for the Actors Fund, so please make a donation.)
BONUS: Neil LaBute’s Ten X Ten
The St. Louis Actors’ Studio presents a series of filmed monologues by the provocative Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men), performed in real time. A different pair will be released each Wednesday for five weeks; links are shared on STLAS’s Twitter account each Wednesday at 6pm. This week’s monologues are for characters in their thirties, and are performed by Frederick Weller and Maggie Grace. (Performers in future weeks include Jenna Fischer, Jason Patric, Richard Kind, Amy Madigan, Bill Pullman and Judith Light.)
BONUS: Molly Pope: Molly Pope, a Gay Man, and a Piano
Molly Pope's viscerally thrilling alto is a rich gusher of sound that emerges like a full-on blast from the past, but her cabaret shows are hilariously full of present tension. In this highly entertaining 70-minute set, recorded in February at the Duplex, the downtown darling and cult gay fave applies her Ed Sullivan Show neoretro vocals to a variety of contemporary pop songs, from the Carpenters and the Bee Gees to the Scissor Sisters and Hole, joined by the frisky Matt Aument at the piano. To view the video on YouTube, send Pope $5 (or more!) through Venmo at @Molly-Pope; include your email address with the purchase, and she'll send you a link to the video.
IN MEMORIAM: Adam Schlesinger
The hugely talented songwriter Adam Schlesinger died on Wednesday of coronavirus complications at the age of 52. It’s an unspeakable loss. A founding member of the bands Fountains of Wayne, Ivy and Tinted Windows, Schlesinger co-wrote songs for TV’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and earned an Oscar nom for the title tune of That Thing You Do. But he also loved musical theater; he cowrote the score for the 2008 John Waters musical Cry-Baby, and his new collaboration with Sarah Silverman, The Bedwetter, was scheduled to premiere this month. In his memory, here are two songs from Cry-Baby: the Patsy Cline spoof “Screw Loose,” performed by him and co-author David Javerbaum, and the production number “A Little Upset,” performed by the show’s cast on the Tony Awards. And he won back-to-back Emmy Awards for these two numbers performed by Neil Patrick Harris as the Tonys’ host: 2011’s “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore” and 2012’s “If I Had Time.” Both are hilarious.
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