Our day-by-day list of the best streaming theater keeps you up to date on the latest theater, dance, opera and cabaret to be found on the internet while Broadway and other performing venues are closed for live performance. Most of this content is only available live or for limited runs, but some of it—including shows created remotely during the shutdown crisis and archival recordings of past productions—remains viewable indefinitely until further notice. As a supplement to our daily listings, here is what we might call the permanent collection: the top musicals, special events, plays, dance works, cabaret sets, comedy shows, awards nights and individual songs that have been released online since March and that you can still watch or rewatch at your leisure. While the vast majority are free, many of them do provide options for donations to charities or artists in need of support. Stream on!
The best theater you can stream online anytime
Much of the best streaming theater, dance and music of the lockdown period remains viewable anytime
Perhaps you have heard of a Broadway musical called Hamilton? Perhaps you have been wishing to see it? Or see it again? Or see it over and over and over, again and again and again, until you know every note, every gesture, every rotation of the turntable as well as you know the proverbial back of your hand? Well, friend, today is your day. The film of the original Broadway production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hurricane of a musical is streaming on Disney+, some 15 months ahead of schedule. Have at it! Full details are here.
The streaming service BroadwayHD offers roughly 300 whole, high-quality, professionally filmed live theater performances from Broadway, London's West End and beyond. Musicals on offer include Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, The Phantom of the Opera, Bob Fosse's Pippin and Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma! For new subscribers, the first week is free. Here is our guide to the musicals currently featured there that you won't want to miss.
The brain-expanding solo artist, musical magpie, erstwhile Talking Head and iconic oversize-suit wearer touches down on Broadway with a theatrical concert that includes songs from his best-selling 2018 album, American Utopia, as well as highlights from his vintage material. The joyous production features choreography by Big Dance Theater's Annie-B Parson and has been created with input from Alex Timbers (who directed Byrne's 2013 Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love). The production announced this week that it plans to return to Broadway next fall; meanwhile, you can catch it on HBO (or on Crave, if you’re in Canada) in a version filmed by Spike Lee.
In this Joe's Pub show, recorded in 2018, Daniel Alexander Jones (Duat) inhabits his longtime alter ego, Jomama Jones—or does she inhabit him?—in a high-concept musical evening that reflects on a shattered mirror of black history. Jomama is a paradigm of R&B-diva grandeur circa 1982, with impeccable posture and elocution that bespeak an old-school black-star dignity. It’s a pleasure to bask in Jones’s sequined, oracular presence, especially when Jones allows us to see the pain and labor behind the all-but-impervious diva’s self-fashioning.
Betsy Wolfe (Waitress) plays the title character, a Wall Street predator who just might have a thing or two to learn about the Christmas spirit, in an original holiday musical by Paul Gordon (Jane Eyre) and director John Caird (Les Misérables). The project was shot remotely during the pandemic, using green screens and other technological workarounds. The cast of Broadway pros also includes Clifton Duncan, Lauren Patten, Carolee Carmello, Patrick Page and—as Estella’s famous ancestor Ebenezer—the beloved Danny Burstein. The show lifts characters and story ideas from several Dickens works beyond its principal source, A Christmas Carol. Tickets cost $25 for a three-day rental.
The Rattlestick presents an hour-long benefit of songs and scenes from Soldiergirls, Em Weinstein and Emily Johnson-Erday’s two-person musical—based in part on letters and found texts—about lesbian love amid the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. Among the talented performers taking a WAC at the material are Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Ezra Menas, Melanie Field, Jessie Shelton, Anna Crivelli, Danielle Chaves, Hannah Van Sciver and Madeleine Barker. Proceeds benefit SPART*A (Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All), an advocacy group for transgender members or veterans of the armed forces.
The incompetent intelligence officers behind the Iraq War form a support group and sing about it in a dark-minded musical by director-composer Marshall Pailet and librettist A.D. Penedo (based on an unproduced screenplay by J.T. Allen). The show had a brief Off Broadway run in 2015, then returned for a longer one, under the slimmer title Baghdaddy, in 2017. This Australian production, directed from New York by Neil Gooding, was created and performed live in June, with the actors performing in separate rooms of the same complex; the cast includes Blake Erickson, Doug Hansell, Phillip Lowe, Laura Murphy, Matthew Predny, Adam Rennie, Katrina Retallick and Troy Sussman. A recording of one of its live performances becomes available for streaming today, with tickets priced at $16. (The show will also be available on BroadwayHD starting November 16.)
The Tony Awards provide a national showcase and public record of performances that are otherwise local and fleeting, and the most memorable numbers from Broadway musicals on the Tonys can echo in theater history for decades to come. But which are the best of the best? We've surveyed every televised number from a nominated musical or musical revival since the very first Tony telecast in 1967 to create this list of the all-time classics.
The Metropolitan Museum streams a 2019 recording of soprano Julia Bullock singing her new arrangement John Adams and Peter Sellars’s Christmas oratorio El Niño, which incorporates text from the King James Bible as well as sources including gnostic gospels, a Martin Luther sermon and modern poetry. This site-specific performance in the Fuentidueña Chapel at the Cloisters marked the NYC debut of the American Modern Opera Company; Bullock is joined by three other vocalists—mezzo J'nai Bridges, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and bass-baritone Davoìne Tines—and a dozen instrumentalists.
The streaming service Hulu debuts its documentary about Freestyle Love Supreme, the improv hip-hop group whose notable alums include Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs and Thomas Kail (who directed FLS’s very enjoyable Broadway run last year). Filmmaker Andrew Fried started documenting FLS performances back in 2004 so there should be a wealth of nostalgic material to draw on. Hulu costs as little as $6 a month; if you don’t subscribe already, the first month is free.
Kate Douglas and Shayfer James star in their The Ninth Hour: The Beowulf Story, their dark rock-opera reimagining of the Old English epic poem. Directed by Kevin Newbury and choreographed by Troy Ogilvie, the show was staged site-specifically at the Fuentidueña Chapel at the Cloisters last year; now the Metropolitan Museum is streaming a recording of that performance for free.
The web series Stars in the House, which has been helping to distract and focus theater expats nearly every day since New York's theaters got shut down in March, went all-out on Tuesday, November 3 with a 10-hour marathon of conversations, rare videos and live performances featuring dozens of Broadway and television luminaries. Amng the guests: Chita Rivera, Josh Groban, Martin Short, Lea Salonga, Betty Buckley, Jessie Mueller, Karen Olivo, Jeremy Jordan, Laurie Metcalf, BD Wong, Stephanie J. Block, Melissa Manchester, Megan Hilty, Michael Cerveris and Joel Grey.
No living musical-theater artist is more revered than Stephen Sondheim, and for good reason: from his lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy to his full scores of shows including Sweeney Todd, Follies, A Little Night Music, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George, Sondheim has sculpted a peerless body of work. So it makes sense that this concert tribute features a truly astonishing galaxy of stars. Produced and hosted by the intense, cavern-voiced leading man Raúl Esparza, the show is a fund-raiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty). Technical difficulties delayed the premiere for more than an hour, but now you can watch or rewatch t without the tension and just enjoy the wonderful songs by an astonishing group of performers: Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Josh Groban, Ben Platt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, Lea Salonga, Sutton Foster, Neil Patrick Harris, Katrina Lenk, Annaleigh Ashford, Laura Benanti, Michael Cerveris, Randy Rainbow, Aaron Tveit, Judy Kuhn, Linda Lavin, Melissa Errico, Beanie Feldstein, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani and recent Pacific Overtures revival cast members Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma. Did we mention the a memorable rendition of "The Ladies Who Lunch" by Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski? No? Now we have. Enjoy.
The exceedingly charming Jay Armstrong Johnson has won audiences' hearts in shows including On the Town, Hands on a Hardbody and The Most Happy Fella, and in recent years he has also created a string of Hocus Pocus-themed shows for Halloweens. For this virtual edition, he ups the ante with an elaborate filmed concert that finds the movie’s witchy Sanderson Sisters—Johnson as Winifred, flanked by Allison Robinson and Amanda Williams Ware—corralling other film baddies to join in a wicked scheme. Among the Broadway types joining the fun are Todrick Hall, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Drew Gehling, J. Harrison Ghee, Robyn Hurder, Julia Mattison, Eva Noblezada, Ahmad Simmons and Will Swenson. The stream is free, but proceeds from donations benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Broadway players get extra playful at the beloved annual burlesque extravaganza Broadway Bares, where the Great White Way's hottest chorus guys and gals bump and grind to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The benefit can't be held in the flesh this year, so Broadway's sexy feast of titillations and assistance is offering a virtual edition that includes new routines recorded remotely as well as video highlights from past editions of Broadway Bares. (Click here to see photos of recent Broadway Bares events.) You can watch it on the Broadway Bares website or through one of the event's many media partners, including Time Out.
One of the great Broadway leading ladies of all time, Chita Rivera came to New York in the early 1950s, and the rest is razzle-dazzle history: starring roles in the original casts of West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago; 10 Tony nominations (and two wins); the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors. She’s often called a legend, but she’s determinedly real. In tonight’s live-only fundraiser, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is streaming a recording of the 2013 concert evening Chita: A Legendary Celebration, recorded at the August Wilson Theatre when Rivera was a mere 80 years old. Written by the late Terrence McNally and directed by Graciele Daniele, the event features performances by Rivera, Tommy Tune and Ben Vereen, as well as a video appearance by the great Broadway tunesmith John Kander. The BC/EFA broadcast also includes new interviews with Rivera, conducted remotely by Richard Ridge.
The New York Times presents the first edition of its new digital series, which offers performances and discussions about how the theater world is adjusting to the great pause. Cast members from Broadway’s Company, including Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone, sing the show’s opening number; Elizabeth Stanley (Jagged Little Pill) and Mare Winningham (Girl from the North Country) perform songs from their suspended shows, and Mary-Louise Parker shares a monologue from The Sound Inside, which played earlier in the season. Times writers set up the prerecorded segments and talk with subjects including Slave Play author Jeremy O. Harris, Moulin Rouge! choreographer Sonya Tayeh and Six creators Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. Newly added to the program is an introductory panel discussion with Adrienne Warren, Daniel J. Watts, Celia Rose Gooding and director Kenny Leon about the impact of the global protest movement.
In a history that spans more than 150 years, the Cooper Union’s stately Great Hall has played host to orators including Abraham Lincoln, SusanBb. Anthony, Thurgood Marshall and Betty Friedan. In this benefit for the East Village institution, some of those words will be shared by a highly distinguished group of actors that includes Alfre Woodard, Kathleen Chalfant, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tracey Ullman, Alan Cumming, Margaret Cho, Jody Long, Arian Moayed, Tokala Clifford, Kimberly Guerrero and Michael Kelly. Augmenting the speeches are musical performances by Ben Folds, David Wain and Bobby Cannavale, the Broadcast, Amy Engelhardt, Jen Malenke, Kimberly Marable, Doña Oxford and Aléna Watters. Read more about it here.
The New York Times presents the third edition of its new digital series Offstage, which offers performances and discussions about how the theater world is adjusting to the great pause. First, Hillary Clinton reflects on her love of theater and some of her favorite experiences there; then, reporter Michael Paulson moderates a roundtable discussion with Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessie Mueller and Danielle Brooks. (Previous episodes of the series can be found here.)
The new advocacy group Broadway for Biden throws its first concert fundraiser under the aegis of Ben Cameron’s popular series Broadway Sessions. In honor of the selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate, the heavy-hitting lineup consists entirely of women, including Judy Kuhn, Laura Bell Bundy, Hailey Kilgore, Saycon Sengbloh, Shaina Taub, Nikki Renée Daniels, Ryann Redmond, Betsy Struxness, Angela Birchett, Krystal Joy Brown, Ashley Loren, Sharone Sayegh and Marisha Wallace. Contributions to the Biden campaign are warmly encouraged.
This special episode of Stars in the House, an edited encore of an episode that originally aired in late June, celebrates Marlo Thomas’s beloved early-70s cross-media project Free to Be…You and Me, which helped teach a generation of kids about sexual equality, self-actualization, generosity and general human goodness. In addition to Thomas, guests include Gloria Steinem, Harry Belafonte, Audra McDonald, Drew Barrymore, Benj Pasek, Debra Messing and Marlee Matlin—plus Sara Bareilles, who has released a cover version of the title song, and Michael McElroy and the Broadway Inspirational Voices, who cover “Sisters and Brothers.”
In March, when Broadway darling Laura Benanti asked students from across the country to share performances from their canceled school productions with the hashhtag #SunshineSongs, the result was an awwwww-inspiring outpouring of talent. Now she has compliled dozens of the resulting videos into several anthologies of promise deferred, showcased in free online specials.
The Broadway cast of the suspended Alanis Morissette jukebox musical Jagged Little Pill, which traces the fault lines in a seemingly happy suburban family, reunites remotely in a one-hour concert benefit for the Actors Fund, hosted by Morissette herself. Along with musical numbers by the ensemble cast—led by Elizabeth Stanley, Sean Allan Krill, Celia Rose Gooding, Derek Klena, Lauren Patten, Kathryn Gallagher and Antonio Cipriano—the event features appearances by book writer Diablo Cody (Juno), director Diane Paulus, choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and musical arranger Tom Kitt.
Michelle Visage and Tyler Oakley host this well-produced concert event co-presented by the West Village’s historic Stonewall Inn and RuPaul’s Drag Race producers World of Wonder. The goal is to raise money for the Stonewall Initiative, which provides grants to gay nightlife professionals who have lost their livelihoods during this crisis. Performers include Cyndi Lauper, Todrick Hall, Rufus Wainwright, Troye Sivan, Alan Cumming and John Cameron Mitchell, among many others; Kristin Chenoweth and Shoshana Bean share a famous Judy-Barbra duet.
Hugh Jackman hosts this ninth annual benefit evening for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the screen performers’ equivalent of the Actors Fund. Angela Bassett, Jason Bateman and Danai Gurira tell the stories of real people whose lives have been helped by MPTF.
Billy Eichner and Lilly Singh host this glam-packed GLAAD fundraiser for LGBTQ centers across the country. Performers include Kesha, Melissa Etheridge, Alex Newell, the cast of Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill and recent Little Shop of Horrors costars Mj Rodriguez and George Salazar; other participants include Pete and Chasten Buttigieg, Matt Bomer, Adam Lambert, Bebe Rexha, Dan Levy, Wilson Cruz, Kathy Griffin, Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, Michelle Visage, Javier Muñoz, Sean Hayes, Sharon Stone, and Tatiana Maslany, Billy Porter, Rosie O’Donnell, Jonathan Van Ness, Brian Michael Smith, Ross Mathews and Tyler Oakley.
Brooklyn’s Irondale Ensemble assembled more than 100 participants on April 23 for an eight-hour Zoom session in honor of Shakespeare’s 456th birthday. Performers range from famous actors and Irondale performers to amateur volunteers, each of whoms deliver their choice of 14-liners from among the Bard’s 154 sonnets. Well-known participants include Ralph Fiennes (Sonnet 129 at 2:09), Lea DeLaria (Sonnet 8 at 7:07), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Sonner 23 at 1:34), Cady Huffman (Sonnet 60 at 2:40), Michael Musto (Sonnet 30 at 0:50), American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside (Sonnet 20 at 1:05) and Sopranos actor John Ventimiglia (Sonnet 116 at 6:05–6:09), who amusingly doesn't realize that he's live for the first few minutes he's on. Musical settings are provided by Rufus Wainwright (Sonnet 20 at 4:12) and Kenyon Phillips (sonnet 66 at 0:47). Irondale cofounder Jim Niesen presides, with supassing gentleness, over most of the event.
For 12 years, the Duplex's second-floor showroom played home on Friday nights to Mostly Sondheim, a late-night open-mic showtune fest that served as a zany, joyful, frequently overseved second home to many hardcore musical-theater enthusiasts. The show had multiple hosts over the years, including Brandon Cutrell, Kate Pazakis, Marty Thomas, Emily McNamara, Ben Cameron, Todd Buonopane, Molly Pope, Colleen Harris and Eric Michael Krop—with piano wizard Brian Nash at the keys for most of the run. Here they all reunite for a live virtual concert, joined by a bunch of longtime regulars. Expect nostalgic mayhem. (You can tip the artists via Venmo at @MostlySondheim.)
This concert benefit for Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater centers on performances of songs by such past Apollo stars as Patti Labelle and Steve Wonder. It includes appearances by Celisse Henderson, Dionne Warwick, Kool & the Gang, Michael McDonald, Vernon Reid, Gary Clark Jr., Ziggy Marley, Keb’ Mo’, Lil Buck and Jon Boogz, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Doug E. Fresh, Teddy Riley, “Captain” Kirk Douglas (of the Roots), Robert Randolph, Infinity’s Song, Ray Chew, Warren Haynes, Roy Wood Jr. and DJ Reborn.
Performers, writers and directors join forces virtually to share original short works created in response to the current antiracist movement. The cast comprises Birgundi Baker, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Bryan Terrell Clark, Neil Brown Jr, Keith Eric Chappelle, Kevin R. Free, Alfie Fuller, Marcus Henderson, Chris Herbie Holland, Ty Jones, Patina Miller, Lori Elizabeth Parquet, Esau Pritchett, Michele Shay, Hailey Stone, Will Swenson, TL Thompson and Lynn Whitfield. Proceeds benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Bail Project and other charitable organizations.
Hailey Kilgore, who made a memorable Broadway debut in the 2017 Broadway revival of Once on This Island when she was just 18, corrals a terrific lineup of fellow musical-theater lights to raise funds for the Educational Theatrical Foundation, which supports arts education in low-income communities and communities of color. Hosted by Playbill, the event includes performances and appearances by Lea Salonga, LaChanze, Brandon Victor Dixon, Javier Muñoz, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ali Stroker, Saycon Sengbloh, Colman Domingo, Chita Rivera, Don Cheadle, Vanessa Williams, Audra McDonald and Will Swenson, Jordan Fisher, Jenna Ushkowitz, Peppermint, Jamie Brewer, Celia Rose Gooding, Adam Jacobs, Ana Villafañe, Rodney Hicks, Jon Rua, Telly Leung, Quentin Earl Darrington, Jelani Alladin, Robin Roberts, Whoopi Goldberg, Eden Espinosa, Nikki Renée Daniels, George Salazar and many more.
For a decade or so, surprisingly talented wanna-be stars competed in Stonewall Sensation, an American Idol–style weekly contest at the West Village’s legendary Stonewall Inn. Now the gang gets back together for a marathon reunion concert that doubles as a fundraiser for Stonewall staff members. Participants include the show’s hosts—the irrepressible Brandon Cutrell and drag star Ariel Sinclair—pianists Brandon James Gwinn, Stonewall stalwart Melissa Driscol, multiple former contestants, and regular judges including singer Erik Sisco, nightlife veteran Susan Campanero and Time Out's own Adam Feldman.
In honor of its town’s aural similarity to Duck Soup’s fictional country of Freedonia, the State University of New York at Fredonia hosts an annual Marx Brothers celebration called Freedonia Marxonia. This year’s virtual edition features a free multimedia presentation by Noah Diamond, who adapted and starred as Groucho in a 2016 Off Broadway revival of the brothers’ obscure 1924 play I’ll Say She Is. In Home Again, he combines illustrated lecture and live performance in a survey of the Marxian relationship to New York City.
Frank DiLella, the host of Spectrum News NY1’s weekly theater show On Stage, hosts this massive two-part special to raise awareness and money for the Actors Fund, which originally ran on April 11 and 12 but still viewable on NY1’s Facebook page: The first part is here and the second is here. Both halves feature check-ins with and performances by an amazing list of Broadway luminaries, including—you may want to sit down for this—Annaleigh Ashford, Sierra Boggess, Jason Robert Brown, Betty Buckley, Tituss Burgess, Kristin Chenoweth, Jenn Colella, Gavin Creel, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, Fran Drescher, Colin Donnell, David Foster, Cheyenne Jackson, Nikki M. James, Ramin Karimloo, Andy Karl, Judith Light, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Katharine McPhee, Debra Messing, Jerry Mitchell, Matthew Morrison, Jessie Mueller, Patti Murin, Kelli O’Hara, Orfeh, Ashley Park, Andrew Rannells, Chita Rivera, Lea Salonga, Christopher Sieber, Elizabeth Stanley, Ali Stroker, Marisa Tomei, Sergio Trujillo, Alysha Umphress, Brandon Uranowitz, Ben Vereen, Ana Villafañe and Adrienne Warren.
In What the Constitution Means to Me, writer-performer Heidi Schreck revisits her teenage years, when she earned money giving speeches about the U.S. Constitution, and examines the document's effect on women—such as one of her foremothers, a mail-order bride who came to a mysterious end. Oliver Butler directed the piece, with a cast that also includes Mike Iveson and two teenage girls with high-school debating experience. "Schreck has crafted a powerful argument that uses everything at hand: legal analysis, a dive into history, a consuming rage at sexual-assault statistics and her own very personal reasoning," wrote Helen Shaw in her five-star Time Out New York review. "Here is something that every citizen must see: It’s theater in the old sense, the Greek sense, a place where civic society can come together and do its thinking and fixing and planning." Amazon’s Prime Video offers a version that was filmed in full by director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) during the final week of its Broadway run. Read more about it here.
Writer-performer Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman) returned to Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in 2018 to play multiple characters in Until the Flood, a solo show about the fatal 2014 shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The play is inspired by interviews with residents of St. Louis, where it debuted in 2016; Neel Keller directed the NYC premiere, which was filmed for WNET’s All Arts wing.
From the fertile mind of Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns, a post-electric play) springs the new audio drama Shipwreck, in which a group of liberal friends gathered for dinner at an upstate farmhouse get tossed on the sharp rocks of candid conversation. Divided into four podcasts, all of which go live today, the piece is directed for the Public Theater by Saheem Ali, who also helmed the company’s four-part radio-play version of Richard II this summer. The very fine cast includes Raúl Esparza, Joe Morton, Mia Barron, Brooke Bloom, Phillip James Brannon, Rob Campbell, Sue Jean Kim, Jenny Jules, Bruce McKenzie, Jeremy Shamos, Rich Topol and Bill Camp as Donald Trump.
To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the death of Black teenager Emmett Till, whose brutal murder caught the conscience of the nation, Los Angeles’s Fountain Theatre revisits its acclaimed 2010 production of Ifa Bayeza’s powerful The Ballad of Emmett Till. Director Shirley Jo Finney is reunited with original cast members Bernard K. Addison, Rico E. Anderson, Lorenz Arnell, Adenrele Ojo and Karen Malina White. AThe reading will be available on demand through the end of the year; tickets cost $20.
Leicester’s Curve Theatre, located more or less smack dab in the middle of England, presents a free stream of a dress-rehearsal recording of its 2019 production of My Beautiful Launderette, adapted by Hanif Kureishi from his own screenplay for the groundbreaking 1985 Stephen Frears film. The production, which features original music by the Pet Shop Boys, is directed by Nikolai Foster and stars Omar Malik and Jonny Fines as characters named, coincidentally, Omar and Johnny: a young Pakistani-British man who runs a laundromat in London and the fascist thug with whom he develops an unexpected bond. Gordon Warnecke, who played Omar in the film (opposite Daniel Day-Lewis) plays his father here.
The brainchild of U.K. actor Robert Myles, The Show Must Go Online presented free weekly Zoom readings of all of Shakespeare’s plays, in what is believed to be the order in which they were written, from the beginning of the shutdown crisis in March through the end of November. Now you can watch them all in whatever order you like. (The finished count of 36 plays does not include Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen, to which the Bard’s contributions are questionable.)
The Public Theater's free annual Shakespeare in the Park, held at the beautiful open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park, is one of New York City's most cherished cultural traditions. While this year’s edition had to be canceled, the Public is teaming up with WNYC to keep the experience alive in a new way: with a radio-play production of what was to have been the 2020 festival’s first offering, Richard II. Rarely seen in full productions, Shakespeare’s history play depicts the overthrow and eventual regicide of the last of the direct-line Plantagenet kings, a prickly man with a knack for making powerful enemies. While the plot is heavy on medieval politics, the writing contains some of the most beautiful verse that the Bard ever crafted. André Holland plays the title role in this audio production, directed by Saheem Ali; the large and excellent supporting cast includes Phylicia Rashad, Estelle Parsons, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Douglas Thompson and Miriam A. Hymna; Lupita Nyong’o provides narration and historical context. The play was spread out over four successive nights, and the entire four-part series is now available as podcast. (The script is here if you want to follow along.)
Writer-performer Drew Droege, beloved for his online impersonations of Chloë Sevigny, follows up on his hilarious and poignant 2016 solo show Bright Colors and Bold Patterns with another boozy look at modern gay culture. This time the occasion is a 41st birthday party populated by the main character's friends, frenemies, exes and more. The stage version, directed by Tom DeTrinis, has now been filmed in quarantine by Jim Hansen for the subscription streaming service BroadwayHD.
The story of Matthew Shepard is intertwined with those of other historical victims of bigotry in 20th-century America—plus Oscar Wilde—in Jon Bastian’s six-hour epic Strange Fruit, presented as part of LA Writers Center’s BIPOC-forward virtual readings series Breathe. Martin Bedoian and Che’Rae Adams direct a cast of 20.
Anyone can miss Broadway spectaculars, but true theater fans may also find themselves missing the super-weird comic experimental fare that gets incubated at the New York City’s Off-Off Broadway hatcheries for odd birds. Title:Point helped you scratch that itch with Everything of Any Value, a bizarro work that was presented at the 2018 Exponential Festival and which is still available on YouTube; now the Brick streams its equally offbeat sequel, Post:Death, a zany collage about mortality directed by Theresa Buchheister.
The masterful Liev Schreiber reads Plaguey Hill, a new work by the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Paul Muldoon that is structured as an interlocking series of 15 sonnets. The 15-minute piece deals with life in upstate New York during the COVID-19 crisis while harking back to a cholera epidemic in Belfast in the 1830s. The Irish Rep is streaming the event for free, with a $10 suggested donation.
In honor of the centennial of women’s suffrage in America, the New York Times presents a reading of Finish the Fight, a commissioned theater work by Ming Peiffer (Usual Girls) that is adapted from an upcoming book (by Veronica Chambers and other Times journalists) about lesser-known and nonwhite figures in the struggle for sexual equality. Whitney White directs a cast that includes Harriett D. Foy, Zora Howard, Q'orianka Kilcher, Leah Lewis and Chelsea Rendon.
Joseph Stern’s Matrix Theatre Company has been a staple of Los Angeles’s small-theater scene since the 1970s, and in the past decade it has focused on theater that actively engages with questions of race. To rise to the current moment, the company is now streaming its 2019 West Coast premiere production of Geraldine Inoa’s Scraps. The first hour looks at four young adults in Bed-Stuy, a few months after an unarmed friend was killed by the police; the last third takes a sharp tonal swerve into the surreal, superheated nightmare of an eight-year-old boy battered by pain about the future that awaits him. At its best, this bold play has the urgent appeal of a passionate voice screaming to be heard. Stevie Walker-Webb directs a cast that includes Stan Mayer, Tyrin Niles, Ashlee Olivia, Damon Rutledge, Ahkei Togun and Denise Yolén.
The toy-theater specialists of Great Small Works, which was founded in 1995, have recently taken their annual puppet pageants to Facebook in a series of virtual mini-spectaculars. In this special, they use their noodles to create a virtual edition of their monthly Spaghetti Dinner series, in which artists share projects over dinner. Created as a benefit for the Brooklyn arts community Building Stories, the event features more than a dozen performances by artists including BoxCutter Collective, The People's Puppets of Occupy Wall Street, Chinese Theatre Works, the Inanimate Intimists, Nathan Leigh, Raphael Mishler, Marina Tsaplina, Jacqueline Wade and, of course, Great Small Works itself. As a bonus, company member Roberto Rossi shares his recipe for the pasta dish that gives the night its name.
Justin Sayre keeps the camp fires burning with another original black comedy: Pussy Fright!, in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Tom Lenk plays a sad heiress whose plan to leave her fortune to her cat gets her entangled in multiple webs of nefarious intrigue. The cast, directed by Tom DeTrinis, includes some of America’s funniest actors: Larry Owens (A Strange Loop), Drew Droege, Jeff Hiller, Rob Maitner, Sam Pancake, Ryan Garcia, Leslie-Ann Huff and Jenn Harris as the cat. Viewers can donate via Venmo (@PussyFright) to benefit the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and New York’s Ali Forney Center.
The Brick Theater continues its Archival Streaming Series with a genre-bending abstract work by the early–20th century Russian experimentalist Daniil Kharms, directed by Timothy Scott and Nicolás Noreña for Brooklyn’s The Million Underscores. The show, which engages with questions of dreaming and industrialization, premiered at the Brick on March 11 before the pandemic curtailed its run.
In this 2014 piece, Joseph Silovsky revisits the nation-dividing Sacco and Vanzetti murder trial of the 1920s in an inegenious production that employs found materials, robotics, puppetry and projections. “Don’t seek clarity in the shambolic, outstanding Send for the Million Men,” wrote Helen Shaw in her Time Out review. “Silovsky is mainly interested in the elusive quality of multiplying details, and even the work’s obvious synergy with current events remains diffident and sly. The scrappy-magical, shaggy-dog chaos builds to an ending in which Silovsky cedes the stage to Vanzetti’s lyrical prison letters, some of the greatest, angriest works written on American justice.”
Krista Knight's puppet play Crush was originally meant to be featured in this year’s Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. When that was canceled, she and collaborator Barry Brinegar reimagined the piece as an animated work, using 3D technologies to match a voice-over by actor Ben Beckley. The piece, which features a cockroach bugging out in beat poetry, was released in very brief installments over the course of several weeks; all six episodes are now live, so you can watch the whole work at once.
The Brick shares that it presented as part of the Exponential Festival in January 2020: Peggy Weil and Varispeed’s musically variegated work-in-progress song cycle, based on conversations between the online chatbot MrMind and various web users attempting to prove that they are indeed human beings. Members of the Brick team join in to chat during the premiere; the stream is free, but donations are encouraged to help keep the Brick from sinking.
The Brick Theater continues its Archival Streaming Series with title:point’s wild 2015 comedy, Biter (Every Time I Turn Around), which the venue hosted as part of the first Exponential Festival in 2016. “Ryan William Downey and Spencer Thomas Campbell's lunatic farce feels cold and fresh, a bracing change from an experimental scene that can seem to have lost its teeth,” wrote Time Out’s Helen Shaw in her rave 2015 review. “But Biter's got bits that go back generations—its hilarious central act is basically a tarted-up Abbott & Costello routine, if those two had stumbled onto a Richard Foreman set and been horribly murdered there.”
The Brick Theater began its Archival Streaming Series with the video premiere of Ryan William Downey’s offbeat dark comedy, which had a well-received run at the Williamsburg Off-Off Broadway destination in December, produced by Title:Point. Characters named Billy the Kid and Zodiac journey through a twisted and violent landscape of western masculine myth-making. Expect cowboys, killers and ghosts, plus a short musical set at the start. (The stream is free, but donations to the Brick are encouraged to help keep it from sinking.)
WNET’s All Arts platform presents a collection of short plays by seven writers: Cyrus Aaron, Niccolo Aeed, Natyna Bean, Tyler English-Beckwith, Jay Mazyck, Deneen Reynolds-Knott and Mario (Mars) Wolfe. Filmed earlier this year, this event was the centerpiece of the 11th annual edition of the Fire This Time Festival, which showcases early-career African-American playwrights. All Arts has rolled out one playlet every day onits YouTube channel.
The Brick Theater continues its Archival Streaming Series with a performance piece that it presented as part of the Exponential Festival in January 2020: Ann Marie Dorr and Paul Ketchum’s highly personal, extremely loose adaptation of a major poststructuralist text by the mind-scrambling theorists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. (The stream is free, but donations are encouraged to help keep the Brick from sinking.)
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.
A Chicago producer-director named Brando Crawford has set up his own charity called Acting for a Cause, and has been gathering very impressive casts of young Hollywood stars for super-casual live Zoom readings of classic plays. This installment stars Ruby Rose—who had just made international headlines for her dramatic departure from the CW’s Batwoman—as Viola in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's ever-popular comedy of cross-purposes, cross-dressing and cross-gartered stockings. Joining her in the cast are Brandon Thomas Lee, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Froy Gutierrez, Nicole Kang and Dear Evan Hansen graduates Will Roland, Taylor Trensch and Ben Levi Ross. Donations are welcome, and proceeds benefit Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
The Louisville-based poet, author and activist Hannah L. Drake curates this free night of spoken word poetry, essays and songs that celebrate resistance and resilience. The cast includes Drake as well as local artists Erica Denise, Janelle Renee Dunn, Robin G, Sujotta Pace and Kala Ross.
Justin Sayre's original camp comedy 5, 6, 7, 8—DIE! borrows from sources that range from Dario Argento’s Suspiria to—horror of horrors—Dance Moms. The cast, directed by Tom DeTrinis, includes Lauren Weedman, Jeff Hiller, Sam Pancake, Ryan Garcia, Isaac Oliver, Drew Droege, Jenn Harris, Rob Maitner, Michael Cyril Creighton, Leslie-Ann Huff and Daniele Gaither. A donation of $20 is suggested, which viewers can send via Venmo (@SweetNellProd); a portion of the proceeds go to bail funds for Black Lives Matter protesters.
Camp guardians Charles Busch (The Confession of Lily Dare), Del Shores (Sordid Lives) and Josh Grannell (a.k.a. San Francisco drag queen Peaches Christ) star in a live reading of the 1981 classic Mommie Dearest, about Hollywood royalty whose daughter treats the beautiful dresses she buys her like dishrags. Proceeds benefit the Trevor Project.
In response to the current crisis, Alabama Shakespeare Festival commissioned 22 Southern playwrights to write short monologues on the theme of “home,” which is appropriate given the number of Americans currently sheltering in place. Participating playwrights include Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Audrey Cefaly, Pearl Cleage, Lisa D’Amour, Lauren Gunderson, Topher Payne and Will Arbery (whose Heroes of the Fourth Turning just won the 2020 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play).
The Brick Theater continues its Archival Streaming Series with Sarah Graalman and Brick leader Theresa Buchheister’s wacky exploration of gender performance, filmed in 2012 at the East Village’s late, lamented Incubator Arts Project. The stream is free, but donations benefit the Marsha P Johnson Institute.
Miniaturist maestros convene virtually on the Facebook page of Great Small Works for a delightful celebration of micropuppetry curated by Trudi Cohen. Individual artists and groups from across the country have filmed and submitted their teensy creations. This sixth edition follows closely on the heels of the fifth. Any money raised will go to the Black Puppeteer Empowerment Grant and Creative Research Residency.
For ten weeks starting at the end of April, Washington, D.C.’s Round House Theatre challenged a different local playwright to write an episode of the company’s web serial, Homebound, whose plot continues from each installment to the next. Ryan Rilette and Nicole A. Watson are the directors; the playwrights run from Alexandra Petri to Caleen Sinnette Jennings. You can catch the entire series, which stars Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and Craig Wallace, on YouTube now.
From the wacky brains of playwright Matt Cox and “geek friendly” producers the Ultra Corporation—who previously collaborated on the long-running Off Broadway not-officially-a-Harry-Potter-comedy Harry Potter comedy Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic—comes an original series about a 14-year-old girl on a quest to save to universe. Adapted from the upcoming two-part stage show The Kapow-i GoGo Saga, the series is inspired by anime and video games. Subsequent episodes will be released on Ultra’s YouTube page.
The hilarious Cole Escola hosts the 65th annual edition of the Obies in this celebration of Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway achievements in the 2019–2020 theater season. Along with this year’s awards, the pre-recorded virtual ceremony includes performances by songwriters Michael R. Jackson and Shaina Taub, Fela!’s Saycon Sengbloh and Sahr Ngaujah, and members of three casts—the original and two revivals—of the Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along.
The New York Drama Critics' Circle usually gives out its annual awards at a private ceremony, but this year the group is pulling back the curtain as a benefit for the Actors Fund in a special episode of the web series Stars in the House. Time Out’s own Adam Feldman, who is the president of the Circle, plays host to presenters including John Mulaney, Michael Shannon, Heidi Schreck, Jeremy O. Harris and Brian Stokes Mitchell. This year’s honorees are Will Arbery for Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Best Play), Michael R. Jackson for A Strange Loop (Best Musical), David Byrne and the Broadway production of American Utopia, Deirdre O’Connell for career excellence including her performance in Dana H., and the New York theater community for perseverance in the face of loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tonys may be in a state of indefinite suspension, but their cousins the Drama Desks—like the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards and the Lucille Lortel Awards before them—are moving forward after a two-week postponement. NY1’s Frank DiLella hosts an hourlong special in support of the Actors Fund; the virtual presenters include Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tituss Burgess, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Andrew Rannells, Jane Krakowski, Cynthia Nixon, Santino Fontana, Ashley Park, Susan Stroman, Ali Stroker, Beanie Feldstein and James Corden. In addition to this year’s awards in 42 categories, the Drama Desks’ inaugural lifetimes achievement honor will be awarded posthumously to Hal Prince, after whom it will henceforth be named.
The Tony Awards are still in indefinite limbo, but Broadway Black steps up to fill some of the void with its own Juneteenth awards show, dedicated to celebrating the achievements of Black theater artists. The Antonyo Awards nominees are drawn from both Broadway and Off Broadway productions, and the acting categories are not separated by gender. Along with the competitive prizes, the evening features musical numbers and a Lifetime Achievement Award for the formidable actor Chuck Cooper. Among those scheduled to appear are Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess, Alex Newell, LaChanze, Jordan E. Cooper, Teyonah Parris, James Monroe Iglehart, Jelani Alladin, Ephraim Sykes, Derrick Baskin, Nicolette Robinson, Christiani Pitts, Amber Iman, Shereen Pimentel, Kirsten Childs, Aisha Jackson, Griffin Matthews, Michael McElroy, Jocelyn Bioh and L Morgan Lee.
Mario Cantone hosts the 35th annual edition of this awards ceremony on May 3 to celebrate great work in Off Broadway productions. This year’s virtual version doubles as a benefit for the Actors Fund. Presenters include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Nathan Lane, Marisa Tomei, Debra Messing, Kelli O’Hara, Phillipa Soo, Tatiana Maslany, Michael Urie, Rachel Dratch, Jackie Hoffman and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Playwright-performer Anna Deavere Smith and departing Playwrights Horizons leader Tim Sanford receive special awards for career achievement.
American Ballet Theatre stays on its toes with a free virtual program that includes the world premieres of four works that the company’s dancers have filmed from “ballet bubbles” of quarantine. The program includes: a solo created by Pam Tanowitz for principal dancer David Hallberg; a same-sex duet by Christopher Rudd, Touché, danced by Calvin Royal III and João Menegussi; Convivium, a new piece by Gemma Bond; and Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Indestructible Light, set to music by Duke Ellington.
City Ballet concluded its month-long virtual fall season concludes with a bang: a festival of five world premieres, the first four of which were filmed by director Ezra Hurwitz in locations around New York City. The offerings are all free to watch and will remain viewable indefinitely. The collection includes the first commissioned work by a black woman in the history of the company—Sidra Bell’s pixelation in a wave (Within Wires)—as well Pam Tanowitz’s Solo for Russell: Sites 1-5, Andrea Miller’s new song, Jamar Roberts's Water Rite and Justin Peck's Thank You, New York.
Lincoln Center shares two works by the venerable Ballet Hispánico, which turns 50 this year. Pedro Ruiz’s Club Havana, is a celebration of Cuban dance including the conga, rumba, mambo and cha cha; Gustavo Ramírez Sansano's Carmen.maquia, which was the company’s first evening-length narrative ballet, is based on the classic Bizet opera and incorporates Spanish paso doble and flamenco.
Mark Morris and his joyous ensemble spread a little light in the darkness of isolation with a special Zoom program that includes the premieres of four short works choreographed by the inventive modern dance master. Rehearsed and filmed remotely, the pieces are Lonely Waltz, Lonely Tango, Anger Dance and Sunshine. A second collection of Morris works, released in November, can be viewed here and features "videodances" of Empire Garden Mvt. I, The Lovers’ Demise, Offertorium, Allegro Molto and Promenade Sentimentale.
The terrific dancer Robbie Fairchild has been on an odyssey of self-discovery in the past few years that has taken him, among other things, from New York City Ballet principal to Broadway leading man (An American in Paris) and cinematic Muskustrap (Cats). Now he ventures into the realm of digital short films with In This Life, an exploration of grief that he has co-created with director Bat-Sheva Guez. The piece is divided, à la Kübler-Ross, into five sections, with a different choreographer for each: James Alsop, Warren Craft, Andrea Miller, Christopher Wheeldon and Fairchild himself.
Szeglowski and her company, cakeface, pay oblique homage to the 1980s cable-access talent show Stairway to Stardom, whose hapless performers made up in ardency what they may have lacked in talent. Absorbing and suggestive, this 2017 dance-theater piece is less campy and more disciplined than one might expect; performed by an impressive cast of five women in disco-ball-silver outfits, it weds sharp synchronized choreography (partly inspired by moves from the series) to equally tight deadpan delivery of interview-based textual fragments about aspiration and mundanity. Jagged video and sound design add to the sense of determined disconnect.
The 12th annual Erasing Borders Dance Festival took its celebration of Indian dance to the digital realm in September. Over the course of eight days, eleven artists from around the world shared pieces in dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi. Now the pieces remain viewable on YouTube. Visit the festival's website for details about the performers and works.
The company formerly known as New York Theatre Ballet, which turns 40 this year, offers favorites from its archives. FEatured choreographers include Jerome Robbins, Agnes De Mille, Robert La Fosse, Pam Tanowitz, Steven Melendez and Frederick Ashton.
Choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi returns to Lincoln Center for the tenth annual iteration of its memorial tribute to 9/11, described as a performance ritual for peace and invocation for peace. The event usually features more than 100 dancers circling the Revson Fountain. This year, it begins with a new, live, on-site prologue in which two dozen dancers at Lincoln Center are joined by electric violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain and spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph; this is followed by an excerpt from Buglidi’s 2001 work Requiem, the premiere of a short film called Études (culled from submissions by dancers around the world), and a video of the full 2019 version of Table of Silence Project 9/11. The stream will remain viewable on demand after the live presentation.
In the fall, Dance Now usually offers a massive festival of short works by 40 dance makers of every stripe, all challenged to mount five-minute pieces on the teeny stage at Joe's Pub. To celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, and in light of current constraints the festival has adopted a different format: the artists are stretched over six shows, spaced out roughly monthly through May. The first three are currently available for streaming; tickets cost $10.
The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi streams a video of a beautiful durational performance-installation event it hosted in 2016: Lars Jan’s trippy Holoscenes, in which a series of costumed performers inhabit a 13-foot aquarium whose water levels rise and fall around them, often submerging them completely. Intended to evoke humankind’s struggle to adapt to climate change, Jan’s visually arresting work is almost five hours long, but you can watch as much or as little of it as you like; the director-conceiver and members of the company hold a live Q&A session halfway through it. To get a sense of the piece, check out this trippy one-minute time-lapse video. Tip: It's best viewed on a very big screen.
American Ballet Theatre superstar Misty Copeland and her former ABT colleague Joseph Phillips are the forces behind Swans for Relief, an effort to raise funds for dancers in need during the pandemic crisis. In a lovely six-minute video released on YouTube, Copeland and 31 other étoiles from around the world swan out in sequence to Camille Saint-Saën’s Le Cygne, played on cello by Wade Davis. If you enjoy watching it, consider donating to the group’s GoFundMe campaign.
The Indian classical dance company Nrityagram presents Samhāra Revisited, a collaboration with Sri Lanka’s Chitrasena Dance Company. Choreographed by Surupa Sen and set to original music by Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, the show was staged site-specifically at the Temple of Dendur in 2018; now the Metropolitan Museum is streaming a recording of that performance for free.
In this show, presented at Joe's Pub by Dance Now in 2019, Israeli-American contemporary choreographer Zvi Gotheiner reprises a work inspired by Jack Kerouac's novel and his company's retracing of its narrator's cross-country journey. His multimedia piece, performed by four dancers, is set to music by Jukka Rintamki and features Americana-themed video by Joshua Higgason.
La MaMa's annual festival La MaMa Moves! runs riot with dance every summer, and for the time being it is moving online. La MaMa den mother Nicky Paraiso curates and hosts this collection of works-in-progress, longer versions of which are planned for later in the summer. Four shows are on the lineup: Body Concert, a stripped-limb solo work by the extraordinary avant-puppeteer Kevin Augustine (The God Projekt); Norwegian choreographer Kari Hoass’s Be Like Water—the distant episodes, described as “a series of digital dance haikus”; Anabella Lenzu’s solo dance-theater piece The night that you stopped acting/ La noche que dejaste de actuar; and Tamar Rogoff’s A Plague on All Our Houses, a look at four dancers in their homes that was created in response to the quarantine.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art streams a recording of Silas Farley’s site-specific dance piece Songs from the Spirit, which was performed in the museum’s galleries in March, 2019. The piece, which explores questions of bondage and grace, is set to traditional spirituals as well as new songs written by inmates at San Quentin State Prison. Dancers Cassia Farley, Rachel Hutsell, James Shee, Taylor Stanley, Claire Kretzschmar, and Alizah Wilson are joined by soprano Kelly Griffin and tenor Robert May.
Broadway legends André De Shields (Hadestown) and Lillias White (The Life) face off head to head—spoiler alert: everyone wins!—in a benefit inspired by the pandemic webcast sensation Verzuz. Mounted by the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and hosted by Amber Iman from a studio at New World Stages, the event includes conversations with the stars as well as performances of songs from shows on their long résumés, including The Wiz, Dreamgirls, Hercules and Full Monty. Proceeds go toward funding future BIPOC leadership in the theater industry through the Cody Renard Richard Scholarship Program and other initiatives.
The House Seats series of WNET’s All Arts wing shares its recording of a February concert at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall, mounted by the nonprofit Women of Color on Broadway in honor of Black musical-theater stars Melba Moore (Purlie) and LaChanze (Once on This Island). Performers include Moore (performing “I Got Love”) as well as Celia Rose Gooding, Kimberly Marable, Kuhoo Verma, Aléna Watters, Anastacia McCleskey, Barbara Douglas, Darlesia Cearcy, Kayla Davion, Linah Sta. Ana, Alexia Sielo and Genesis Collado.
Young Broadway pros break out the blue notes in a virtual edition of Corey Mach's Broadway Sings concert series, featuring arrangements of pop and theater hits by ace musical director Joshua Stephen Kartes. Performers on the stage of the East Village’s Kraine Theatrer include Jessica Vosk, Tamika Lawrence, Kate Rockwell, Keri René Fuller, Mary Kate Morrissey, Kyle Taylor Parker, Dee Roscioli, Raena White and Mach himself. Proceeds benefit the Biden campaign.
Before she ascended to mass-culture superstardom, Ariana Grande was a theater geek who made her Broadway in 2008’s 13, a musical by one of musical theater's leading composers: Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County), who combines insinuating heightened-pop melodies with intelligent lyrics. The show didn’t run, but a Grande always pays her debts. Here she sings Brown's "I'm Still Hurting," from The Last Five Years, to help raise money for the East Village arts venue SubCulture, where he has held court in a monthly musical residency for, well, the last five years. Also along for the ride is the big-voiced Shoshana Bean (Wicked), an accomplished Brown interpreter and frequent guest.
Carnegie Hall continues its online series with a tribute to the late, forever notorious RBG, who was a longtime opera enthusiast. Mezzo Isabel Leonard hosts the event, which includes performances by fellow songbirds Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves and Patrice Michaels.
The latest edition of Bruce Kimmel's Kritzerland series celebrates the songs John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriting team behind Cabaret, Chicago and so much more. The cast includes Brent Barrett, Debbie Gravitte, Karen Ziemba, Karen Mason, Kerry O’Malley, Peyton Kirkner, Hartley Powers, Sami Staitman, Robert Yacko and that comic dynamo Jennifer Simard. Proceeds benefit NoHo theaters in financial jeopardy.
Chicago’s Porchlight celebrates 25 years of championing musical theater in the Windy City with a three-night virtual music festival that looks back on some of the songs it has presented over the years. The celebration concludes with a tribute to Broadway icon Joel Grey (Cabaret), featuring highlights from his career as well as salutations from a bevy of musical-theater stars including Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Kristin Chenoweth and Raúl Esparza. Linda Madonia is the music director, and the singers include Andres Enriquez, Erica Evans, Cory Goodrich, Christopher Kelley, Laura Savage and Joey Stone.
Singer-songwriter Adam Blotner gather stars of stage and screen to share songs from his 2018 album Country for Liberals in a free concert described as “a foot-stompin’, knee-slappin’ jamboree of progressive values.” (Warning: Leg injuries from stomping and slapping may not be covered by America’s terrible current health insurance system.) The roster of performers includes Bonnie Millgian (Head Over Heels), Grey Henson (Mean Girls), Amy Jo Jackson, Darius Harper, Sam Underwood, Valorie Curry, Josh Daniel and Jenny Pinzari.
Carnegie Hall continues its online series with a live concert-and-interview set by Judy Collins, who sings with a radiant decency that verges on holiness and uses her voice like a fine crystal vessel: to elevate and beautify but also to expose. A folk-pop icon since the 1960s, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall more than 50 times. Joining her for this virtual engagement are Shawn Colvin, Alan Cumming, Steve Earle and Jimmy Webb; expect Collins originals as well as songs by Stephen Sondheim, whose "Send in the Clowns" she made into an unlikely popular hit in 1975.
Cabaret producer Scott Siegel, well known for his multiple concert series at the Town Hall and Feinstein’s/54 Below, has developed a promising model for his virtual programming: He crowdsources funding in advance so he can actually pay the performers who are singing remotely. In this seventh episode, recorded and edited in advance, Siegel serves as host for a lineup that includes Karen Ziemba, Emily Skinner, Kerry O’Malley, Tony DeSare, Mark Nadler, Michael Winther, Ben Jones, Dongwoo Kang, Q-Lim, Anais Reno and Luana Psaros.
Carnegie Hall continues its online series with a live concert-and-interview set by the great Broadway leading lady and Tony hoarder Audra McDonald, a dazzling interpreter whose virtuosic technique doesn’t get in the way of her natural warmth. Expect some recent additions to her repertoire. Joining her is CBS Sunday Morning wag Mo Rocca and musical director Andy Einhorn.
Christina Bianco is a comic firecracker with a pyrotechnic voice and a great gift for mimicry, which broke her out when a video of her performing "Total Eclipse of the Heart"—as sung by 19 different divas—went megaviral. Last year, she earned rave reviews as Fanny Brice in a revival of Funny Girl in Paris. In this YouTube benefit concert, she delves into her deep reserves of vocal impersonations to raise money for TDF's Lifeline Campaign, with guest help from her erstwhile Forbidden Broadway costar Michael West.
Joe’s Pub continues its rollout of hits from its archives. This offering is a Hanukkah-themed 2019 set by Ari Hest and Julian Velard, in which the Jewish duo—Jewo?—refracts the story of the Maccabees through a prism of pop tunes from the ’70s and ’80s.
The actor, writer and producer Bruce Kimmel has been an essential font of show tunes for decades, notably as the force behind the labels Bay Cities, Varese Sarabande, Fynsworth Alley and now Kritzerland. Since 2010, he has also assembled and hosted monthly cabaret shows with high-level casts, most recently at Feinstein’s Upstairs at Vitello’s. The cast of this virtual version includes Norm Lewis, Emily Skinner, Jason Graae, Kerry O’Malley, Daniel Bellusci, Hartley Powers, Sami Staitman, Adrienne Stiefel and Robert Yacko. Proceeds benefit NoHo theaters in financial jeopardy.
Before he captured America’s heart as the outrageously self-obsessed Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tituss Burgess partied under the sea in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid and rocked the boat in Guys and Dolls. Now the well-practiced divo brings his high-flying, super-riffy vocals to Carnegie Hall (virtually, of course) in the first edition of the iconic concert venue’s new online series. In addition to sharing his fabulous singing, Burgess answers questions via social media, interviews a couple of top-drawer guests—Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County, The Last Five Years) and soprano Angel Blue (Bess in the Met’s Porgy & Bess last year)—and get interviewed himself by NY1’s Frank DiLella.
Carnegie Hall continues its new online series with a live set by the magnetic international chanteuse Ute Lemper. When performing in cabarets, her style is perversely polymorphic: One moment she might tear into a song with predatory hunger, then she might purr out a dreamy croon or toss back her head for a brassy squeal of jazz. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), she marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps with songs of resistance and hope that were written during the Nazi era.
92Y pays tribute to the great jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who died of coronavirus complications on April 1 at the age of 94, with an archival recording of this 2011 edition of the cultural center’s venerable Lyrics & Lyricists series. Bucky’s son, singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli, and his wife, singer-actor Jessica Molasky, lead a celebration of a career that stretched back to the 1930s and brought him into collaborations with some of the great vocalists and musicians of the 20th century. Judy Kuhn and Darius de Haas provide additional vocals, and Martin Pizzarelli (also Bucky’s son) is at the bass.
In this 2019 Joe's Pub set, the stalwart and justly celebrated covers act Loser’s Lounge, which has been haunting New York City for more than 25 years, tries its collective hand at the oeuvre of Aretha Franklin. More than 20 vocalists join in to pay their R-E-S-P-E-C-Ts to the late Queen of Soul.
After many years as something of a cult musical-theater figure, pop-rock showtunesmith Joe Iconis had a breakout year in 2019, when his teen-oriented musical Be More Chill rode viral success to a run on Broadway. His rowdy cabaret shows, often stuffed with longtime friends and collaborators, have a joyous sense of community. In this 2020 American Songbook concert, he shares new material as well as favorites from his career so far (we'd be disappointed if he didn't include Smash’s "Broadway, Here I Come!") with help from musical-theater royals Betty Buckley and Annie Golden.
Carnegie Hall continues its online series with a live concert-and-interview set by venue habitué Michael Feinstein, the popular and polished standard-bearer of American song. This episode salutes Cole Porter, the worldly wit and musical magpie behind such shows as Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate and such songs as "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine" and "Just One of Those Things." Along for the ride this time are vocalists Storm Large and Catherine Russell.
The essential downtown arts destination Joe’s Pub has been opening its archives on Thursday through Saturday nights to stream some of its most memorable past shows. This one is a 2018 set by the accomplished singer-songwriter and theater composer Shaina Taub, a Joe’s Pub resident performer who wrote the score for the Public Works productions of Twelfth Night and As You Like It.
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.
Melissa Errico is a smart-edged musical-theater leading lady whose silvery voice has brightened such shows as My Fair Lady, Amour and the Off Broadway revival of Passion. In this concert, recorded for archival purposes last year at East Hampton’s Guild Hall in East Hampton, she sets her mind on songs by newly nonagenarian show-tune deity Stephen Sondheim, from the familiar (“Send in the Clowns”) to the relatively unknown (“Goodbye for Now”). Tedd Firth is the musical director.
The bright-eyed, bouncy-kneed Scottish stage-and-screen actor Alan Cumming plays fast and louche with the cabaret format, sprinkling naughty words into long comic stories and putting a completely fresh interpretive spin on familiar songs. He became an American citizen in 2008, a decade after taking New York by storm in Cabaret, and this 2018 Joe's Pub set explores his immigrant experience. Venmo tips to Cumming’s band are welcome.
The actor, writer and producer Bruce Kimmel has been an essential font of show tunes for decades, notably as the force behind the labels Bay Cities, Varese Sarabande, Fynsworth Alley and now Kritzerland. Since 2010, he has also assembled monthly cabaret shows with high-level casts, most recently at Feinstein’s Upstairs at Vitello’s. The cast of this virtual version includes Brent Barrett, Kerry O’Malley, Christiane Noll, Daniel Bellusci, Hartley Powers, Sami Staitman, Adrienne Stiefel and Robert Yacko; Kimmel is the host, and Richard Allen serves as musical director.
Feinstein’s/54 Below has been streaming shows from its archives, but this one is different: a live-from-home edition of a series conceived and hosted by Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof), in which Broadway performers get a chance to dreamcast themselves in parts they will probably never get to play. Performers include Elizabeth Stanley, Julia Murney, Drew Gehling, Nicholas Barasch, Robyn Hurder, Samantha Massell, Isabelle McCalla, Jelani Remy, Kirsten Scott, Matthew Scott and Nik Walker. Ben Caplan serves as musical director.
In this Carnegie Hall home offering, soprano superstar Renée Fleming returns to one of her signature pieces, Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, and talks with WQXR’s Elliott Forrest. Joining the fun as a special guest is Rufus Wainwright, who pulled off one of the most memorable stunts in the venue’s history in 2006 when he recreated Judy Garland’s legendary 1961 concert there.
Gutsy musical-theater neodiva Johnson (Kinky Boots) had a cabaret breakthrough with 2011's Relentless at Joe's Pub, and has been rocking New York City nightlife ever since. Even inquartantine, her birthday extravaganza promises to be a rollicking night of song, sex and showbiz excess.
Scott Siegel hosts a lineup of singers that includes Debbie Gravitte, Christine Andreas, Danny Gardner, Allison Semmes, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Kelly Sheehan, Bryan Hunt, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Jeanine Bruen, Sophie Rapeijko and Gigi Encarnacion.
Max Vernon is a rising musical-theater composer who has proved equally adept at capturing the sounds of 1970s glam rock (The View Upstairs) and modern Korean bubblegum (KPOP). This 2019 Joe's Pub concert, directed by Ellie Heyman, features an impressive roster of guests, including Michael Longoria, Jo Lampert, Andy Mientus, Gianna Masi, Fancy Feast, Sophia Ramos, Helen Park and Leah Lane.
As part of its Pride Month programming, Joe's Pub shares this 2018 show, in which the flirty, sly, dark-elfin Australian baritone Kim David Smith departs from his Weimar-inflected signature set, Morphium Kabarett, for a special salute to Aussie dance-pop icon Kylie Minogue. Tracy Stark is the musical director.
In this Pride Month offering, filmed at Joe's Pub in 2019, the hirsute drag queen Martha Graham Cracker—the creation of Dito van Reigersberg, who cofounded Philadelphia’s excellent Pig Iron Theatre Company—and her four-piece band offer rollicking alt-cabaret shenanigans through songs by artists including Prince, Lady Gaga, Black Sabbath and Nina Simone. The virtual tip jar is Venmo (@DitoVanR).
Carnegie Hall continues its online series with a live concert-and-interview set by venue habitué Michael Feinstein, the popular and polished standard-bearer of American song. This episode salutes the master tunesmith Irving Berlin, the man behind such all-time earworms as "Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Puttin' on the Ritz,""White Christmas" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." Along for the ride are big-time Broadway guest stars Kelli O'Hara, Cheyenne Jackson and Tony Yazbeck.
The saucer-eyed costar of Difficult People and At Home with Amy Sedaris, the brilliantly funny Cole Escola, has dropped an hour-long online version his perpetually sold-out solo sketch comedy act, which continues to reveal new facets of a talent that gleams with scrappy razzle-dazzle. Blending boyish mischief with dark neurosis and the ruthless coyness of a starlet bent on fame, Escola’s comic persona suggests a street urchin raised by The Match Game. It's an hour of silly wigs, genre parodies, absurdist humor and refreshing pseudo-honesty that you won't soon forget.
An avatar of retroqueer cultivation, the sharp-tongued Justin Sayre delighted New Yorkers for years as host of the Meeting*, a variety series that combined hilarious rants with musical numbers and sometimes passionate advocacy. In this 2018 Joe's Pub show, the writer-performer sees red, white and blue in a show that tries to save America from itself.
Joe’s Pub celebrates Pride Month with a 2018 “sit-down comedy” show by Isaac Oliver, the author of the compulsively readable Intimacy Idiot. If David Sedaris and Fran Lebowitz had a baby who wrote about subways, theater patrons and blow jobs, he might be a lot like Oliver; the hilarious and poignant comic essayist is also a deft deliverer of his own work.
The shameless drag legend, nightlife pioneer and Wigstock founder Lady Bunny responds to the pandemic as only she can: with a potty-mouthed comedy special. Beneath her trademark towering wigs, Bunny knows her mind and isn't afraid to say what's on it. Expect irreverent humor and multiple changes of costume. Tickets cost $10.
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.
As part of the Nick Cordero Memorial Tribute, past castmates of the late Broadway star, who died in July, sing backup to a recording of Cordero singing "One of the Great Ones" from A Bronx Tale. It's a heartbreaking tribute to a talent that was taken from the world far too early.
If you’ve been feeling less than your best, watch this four-minute video of one of the great Broadway feel-good songs of all time: “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” the triumphantly peppy and defiant finale of Hairspray. The video is a massive undertaking, with more than 150 actors, dancers and musicians contributing from home—starting with Tracy originators Ricki Lake and Marissa Jaret Winokur and eventually including (among many others) Harvey Fierstein, Michael Ball, Matthew Morrison, Darlene Love, Martin Short, Andrea Martin, Jackie Hoffman, Billy Eichner, Randy Rainbow, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Butler, Laura Bell Bundy, Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Teri Hatcher, Bruce Vilanch, Garrett Clayton, Ephraim Sykes, Keala Settle, Alex Newell, Maddie Baillio, Nikki Blonsky, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It pulls out all the stops, and it's unbeatable.
Harry Francis, who has appeared in multiple productions of Cats, has assembled 333 (!) alums of Andrew Lloyd Webber's feline spectacular for the most epic Jellicle Ball of the quarantine era, if not ever. Performing remotely, Cats veterans from the U.K., the U.S. and all around the world—France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, South Korea, South Africa, the Netherlands, Canada, Russia, even the Royal Caribbean cruise line—re-create six minutes of Gillian Lynne's dynamically slinky original choreography in a gigantic video celebration. (Participants include three performers from the original London production and six from the original Broadway.) Some are alone, some are in small groups; some are in costumes, some in human-dancer togs; all are in the joyful moment. If you love the spirit of theater, this right here is catnip.
It's no secret anymore that Jake Gyllenhaal has serious musical-theater chops, as he demonstrated in the 2015 City Center concert of Little Shop of Horrors and the 2017 Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George. In this one-off offering from the ongoing 24 Hour Plays series on Instagram, he sings a touching original song about quarantine romance, written by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Good People). If you have four minutes to spare gazing dreamily into Jake Gyllenhaal's eyes as he sings to you, it's as tender a four-minute ballad about cruising a stranger across the street as one could wish.
One of the most memorable Broadway numbers of the 2010s was comic treasure Andrea Martin’s show-stopping rendition of the age- and gravity-defying “No Time at All” in 2013’s fabulous dark-circus revival of Pippin, for which she mounted a flying trapeze and won her second Tony Award. Now director Diane Paulus’s American Repertory Theater, where the revival originated, has released a clip of Martin’s high-flying and adored performance. It’s six minutes of show-tune joy.
Need a little sun in your life? This new video may help. Andrea McArdle, the original star of Broadway's Annie, leads a rousing rendition of that show's optimistic anthem, "Tomorrow," in an adorable and inspiring group sing-along to benefit for Shields for Heroes, which provides protection for healthcare workers and others in harm's way during the pandemic. Participants includes Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Christopher Jackson, Alan Cumming, Bridget Everett, Billy Eichner, Mary Testa, and Ana Gasteyer.
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 a fund-raiser for the Actors Fund, so please make a donation.)
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.
Several New York City entertainers have been taking to their windows and roofs to serenade their neighbors of late, but no one else is Broadway leading man, Actors Fund chairman and civic treasure Brian Stokes Mitchell. This Facebook video captures his glorious April 18 rendition of "The Impossible Dream (The Quest") from the Don Quixote musical Man of la Mancha, in which he starred in 2002.
The inventive, queer-edged NYC opera company Heartbeat Opera gathers more than 30 alums for a storring virtual chorus of the finale from Leonard Bernstein and Richard Wilbur's Candide. In real life last year, the song was the climax of the troupe's sixth annual drag extravaganza, Hot Mama: Singing Gays Saving Gaia.
Perhaps no other death attributed to the Covid pandemic hit the Broadway community quite as hard as that of Nick Cordero, who succumbed to the virus in July after an extended and grueling fight. Just 41 years old, Cordero had marked himself as one of his generation’s great musical-theater talents in shows including Toxic Avenger, Bullets Over Broadway, A Bronx Tale, Brooklynite and Waitress. Now Cordero’s family, friends and castmates have assembled virtually for a memorial celebration of his life and legacy. Broadway On Demand is offering the tribute for free; donations to the Save The Music Foundation in Cordero’s memory are encouraged.
The hugely talented songwriter Adam Schlesinger died on April 1 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.