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The best live theater to stream online on April 8

Theaters are closed for now, but you can find great stage stars and events live online today

Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker Were Always Supposed to Do a Show on September 6th and Have Been Planning It For Months
Sylvie Rosokoff Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker
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The isolation crisis has had a devastating effect on the performing arts. Broadway is now shut down until at least June 7, 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.)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8, 2020

2pm: Plays in the House: Fully Committed
Last week, the invaluable twice-daily Stars in the House series, which usually features interviews and musical performances (see 8pm below), tried something different: live readings of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles and Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife in their entirety. Both came off smashingly, so the series is having another go—this time with Becky Mode’s hit 1999 solo comedy, Fully Committed. Mark Setlock reprises his celebrated original performance as Sam, a frustrated actor and harried reservationist at an ultra-trendy Manhattan restaurant. Over the course of 80 minutes, he also portrays some three dozen other people, including a hilariously abusive chef, a haughty French maître d’, the assistant of a Hollywood star with ludicrous demands and a monstrously aggressive regular named Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn. (Unlike other Stars in the House offerings, this will not be available on video later, so make time to watch it live.)

2:30pm: Martha Graham Dance Company: Martha Matinee
The queen of modern dance's legacy lives on. In this free YouTube event, the dance company that bears her name screens four short films that explore Graham’s uncharacteristically joyful 1948 work Diversion of Angels: performances from 1949, 1976 and today, and a 2016 short film, Variations of Angels, by Peter Sparling. Artistic director Janet Eilber is on hand for live Q&A during the group watch, joined by Sparling. (The excerpts will be screened again on Saturday, April 11 at 2:30pm.)

6pm: 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 forties, and are performed by Jenna Fischer and Jason Patric. (Performers in future weeks include Richard Kind, Amy Madigan, Bill Pullman and Judith Light.) 

6:30pm: Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker
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. Tonight’s selection features two rapidly rising stars of the musical-theater universe: the huge-voiced Bonnie Milligan, who made a triumphant Broadway debut in last season’s Head Over Heels, and the writer, performer and charisma machine Natalie Walker (Alice by Heart). This much-buzzed-about 2019 concert, which the two threw together in days to fill the slot of an ailing artist who had to cancel his engagement, is titled Bonnie Milligan and Natalie Walker Were Always Supposed to Do a Show on September 6th and Have Been Planning It For Months. The set list includes songs from TV's Smash and the infamous Broadway horror-musical flop Carrie, plus guest shots by Matt Doyle and Heath Saunders. Expect show-tune-nerd mayhem. 

7pm: HERE@Home: Thomas Paine in Violence
Every Wednesday night, the vital downtown arts complex HERE screens a new recording of one of its past successes in a Facebook watch party. This week’s selection is Paul Pinto’s fascinating “electronic psychedelic opera-sermon,” directed by Rick Burkhardt (Three Pianos). The venerable experimental vocalist Joan La Barbara plays 18th-century rabble-rouser Thomas Paine—in the afterlife, natch—in a head-scrambling work that draws from Paine’s 1797 pamphlet Agrarian Justice. (You can read an interview with Pinto about it here.)

Thomas Paine in Violence // Photograph: Courtesy Benjamin Heller

7pm: Marty Thomas and Rachel Potter
On Mondays, singer and human spangle Marty Thomas (Xanadu) hosts the weekly talent showcase Diva. On Wednesdays, he takes it down a notch in a hang session with his talented pal Rachel Potter (who sang the big suitcase song in the most recent Broadway revival of Evita). Their guests this week are Mykal Kilgore and Brennyn Lark. If the spirit moves you, you can tip Thomas through Venmo at @MartyThomas. 

7:30pm: The Metropolitan Opera: Falstaff
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 of classics continues with Ambrogio Maestri as the titular pleasure-seeking scamp of Giuseppe Verdi’s final opera, the 1893 comic romp Falstaff, adapted by librettist Arrigo Boito from the of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It ain’t over when the fat man sings! James Levine conducts this 2013 performance, which costars Lisette Oropesa, Angela Meade and Stephanie Blythe.

7:30pm: Dixon Place: Experiments & Disorders
Dixon Place’s long-running literary salon, curated by Tom Cole and Christen Clifford, embraces fiction, nonfiction, poetry and performance texts by writers who dare to be weird. Tonight the series goes remote for the first time. Guests include longtime Village Voice journo Laurie Stone and downtown fixture Michael Cavadias, whose alter egos have included the rock & roll party girl Lily of the Valley and the ancient alien Claywoman. (The video will remain watchable after its premiere.)

8pm: Stars in the House: Young Sheldon reunion
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 evening edition of this twice-daily interview show strays from its usual theatrical focus to chat with cast members of TV’s Young Sheldon, including 11year-old actor Iain Armitage, who first gained notice as a precocious fan of Broadway shows before moving on to the title role in the Big Bang spinoff prequel.

8pm: Cabaret Cabernet
Breakout comedic chanteuse Catherine Cohen hosts a variety show from her bedroom as a "work from home edition" of her usual weekly gig at Club Cumming. Expect a great lineup of performers and comedians. Donations to the New York Food Bank are encouraged.

8:30pm: Kill Move Paradise
Three African-American men and one younger boy, untimely ripped from their earthly lives by violence, find out what purgatory has in store for them in James Ijames’s expressionistic drama, which was inspired by the deaths of Tamir Rice and others. Rising director Wardell Julius Clark directs this very fine production for Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre Company, which features a striking sloped set by Ryan Emens. It’s provocative material, with a tone that alternates quickly from playful to intense, and the filmed version keeps enough of the audience in the frame to give a sense of the actors’ metatheatrical confrontations with the (mostly white) audience. Performances are sold through April 19 according to the production’s original schedule; you get a week to watch the video after the specific performance you book.

Kill Move Paradise // Photograph: Courtesy Lara Goetsch

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 through Venmo. Tonight’s scheduled pianists are Drew Wutke (@DrewWutke) and Kenney Green (@Kenneth-Green-5).

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.” This is your last day to catch it; tomorrow, the play cedes its place to Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre.

BONUS: The Downtown Seder
A New York City tradition for more than 25 years, the Downtown Seder gathers some 20 entertainers and thinkers to tell the story of the ancient Israelites' rapid exit from slavery in Egypt. Participants include Perry Farrell, Lewis Black, Speech, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Al Franken, Peter Yarrow, Max Weinberg, Judy Gold, Sandra Bernhard and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The video remains viewable after the live broadcast on Monday evening, so you can watch it as you rev up for tonight’s main event. (It starts at about 1:56.) Read more about the Downtown Seder here

BONUS: The Downtown Seder
A New York City tradition for more than 25 years, the Downtown Seder gathers some 20 entertainers and thinkers to tell the story of the ancient Israelites' rapid exit from slavery in Egypt. Participants include Perry Farrell, Lewis Black, Speech, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Al Franken, Peter Yarrow, Max Weinberg, Judy Gold, Sandra Bernhard and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The video remains viewable after the live broadcast on Monday evening, so you can watch it as you rev up for tonight’s main event. (It starts at about 1:56.) Read more about the Downtown Seder here

BONUS: The Broadway cast of Jagged Little Pill sings "Thank U"
As cast members of the Alanis Morissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill await returning to the Great White Way, they take two minutes to reunite remotely and share their gratitude with a hit song from Morissette's 1998 album Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. No, cast of Jagged Little Pill: Thank you.

The cast of Jagged Little Pill

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 a month—20 leading writers create monologues or two-handers for 22 top actors, who record them and send them in for online broadcast. On Tuesdays from 6pm through midnight, a new piece goes live every 15 minutes on the 24 Hours Plays’ Instagram feed, where they remain viewable afterward. The actors in yesterday’s crop include Ethan Hawke, Marlo Thomas, Michael Urie, Reed Birney, Wayne Brady, Bill Camp, Michael Cyril Creighton, Crystal Dickinson, Brandon J. Dirden, Deanna Dunagan, Marin Ireland, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Mia Katigbak, Elizabeth Marvel, Isaac Powell and Portia; among the writers are Will Arbery, Dan Kois, David Lindsay-Abaire, Christopher Oscar Peña, Max Posner, Sarah Schulman, Betty Shamieh, Jonathan Marc Sherman and Charly Evon Simpson. 

8pm: Lips Together, Teeth Apart
In honor of the late Terrence McNally, who died March 24 of coronavirus complications, Broadway.com presented an all-star reading on Monday of McNally’s 1991 play about two straight couples at the Fire Island beach house of a gay man who has recently died of AIDS. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Zachary Quinto, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Ari Graynor play the roles originally filled, respectively, by Nathan Lane, Anthony Heald, Christine Baranki and Swoosie Kurtz. Trip Cullman directed. You can still watch it today, and make a donation: Proceeds benefit the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

BONUS: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play
In Jocelyn Bioh’s ferocious comedy, set in 1986, the queen bee at an exclusive Ghanaian boarding school competes with a sunny American student for the attention of a pageant recruiter. Goodman Theatre’s Chicago production, directed by Lili-Anne Brown, was suspended before it opened, but we liked the play’s NYC premiere in 2017 very much. So did a lot of others: It was one of the buzziest shows of the season, and returned for an encore run. From this week through April 29, the Goodman is making a high-quality digital recording of its production—with good sound and multiple changes of camera angle—available for home viewing. Tickets range from $15 to $100 on a pay-what-you-choose basis; you can watch the video for up to two weeks after buying a ticket, but once you start watching you have to finish it within a day. (That won’t be hard; it’s only 80 minutes long, and it zips by.)

BONUS: Hamilton cast reunion surprise
If you haven’t seen this yet, stop what you’re doing right—we said right now—and take seven minutes to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original Broadway cast of Hamilton make a surprise mass appearance on John Krasinski’s YouTube series, Some Good News, and sing the musical’s opening number to a 9-year-old girl who didn’t get to see the show on Broadway last month. This is seven minutes of heaven. 

BONUS: Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show: Quarantine Edition
Billed as "a first look at NYC’s finest emerging variety talents and an intimate experience with circus stars from around the world," this monthly exhibition of curious human endeavors—sponsored by the Bindlestiff alt-circus gang—might feature anything from stripping clowns to heavy-metal magicians. Last night, a remote edition of the vaudevillian variety pageant hit YouTube. Keith "Bindlestiff" Nelson hosts remote artists including Nelson Lugo, Michael Bongar, Ekaterina Sknarina, Benjamin Domask-Ruh, Kathryn Carr, Matthew Lish, Zeroboy, Deborah Lohse, Butch and Buttercup, Magic Brian and Brad Shur. Contributions are welcome.

BONUS: Shakespeare’s Globe: Hamlet
London’s Shakespeare’s Globe is a replica of the Elizabethan playhouse for which the Bard wrote many of his plays, and it often aims to reproduce the production conditions under which those works were originally presented. Starting yesterday, the company is rolling out videos of six of its productions for free via YouTube. A new production drops every second Monday at 6pm GMT (i.e. 2pm EDT), and stays up for two full weeks. The first offering is Shakespeare’s magnum opus, Hamlet, where a ghost and a prince meet and everyone ends in mincemeat; in a gender-blind modern gesture, the company’s artistic director, Michelle Terry, plays the title role. 

BONUS: Becca Blackwell: Schmermie’s Choice
A gently forceful presence in downtown productions for ages, Becca Blackwell had a big year in 2019, with roles in two major Off Broadway shows—Hurricane Diane and Is This A Room—and a guest shot on HBO’s High Maintenance. In 2016’s They, Themself and Schmerm, the charming postgender performer explored abuse, self-discovery and filial ambivalence; in this 50-minute 2019 follow-up, directed by Jess Barbagallo and recorded at Joe’s Pub, Blackwell shares candid comic stories of sex parties, cruising and the surprising sex-drive changes wrought by testosterone. It’s raunchy but also funny and good-natured. Blackwell is the kind of actor you want to have a beer with. (Feel free to tip via Venmo at @Becca-Blackwell.)

Becca Blackwell// Photograph: Courtesy Allison Michael Orenstein

BONUS: Ben Rimalower: Patti Issues
Everyone’s a little obsessed with Broadway überdiva Patti LuPone these days, thanks to her fabulously bonkers basement-tour videos on Twitter, but few can rival musical-theater queen and podcast host Ben Rimalower. In this revealing one-man show, which he has performed on and off for nearly a decade, Rimalower explains how his fraught relationship with his gay, narcissistic father dovetailed with his obsession with LuPone. “Patti Issues is meticulously scripted and executed, with poignant punch lines that deliver laughs, emotion and insight into gay diva worship in equal measure,” wrote As Time Out’s Raven Snook in her review of the show. “Rimalower recounts his coming-of-stage tale with such wit, feeling and conviction that you buy every outrageous word of it.” To help entertain you during this troubled time, he is now sharing a full recording of the show for free on YouTube.

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 co-wrote 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. 

BONUS: Stars in the House archives
Did you miss your favorite Broadway star when they dropped in to chat on Stars in the House? Fear not: You can watch any past episode on YouTube (except the few devoted to reading whole plays live). And remember, it’s never too late to show your appreciation by making a donation to the Actors Fund.

RECOMMENDED: The best musicals you can stream right now on BroadwayHD 

RECOMMENDED: Five free shows from PBS’s Great Performances that you can stream today

 

NOTE: If you would like to be considered for a listing on this page, please write to Adam Feldman at theaterfromhome@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

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