Worldwide icon-chevron-right The best theatre to watch online right now
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein (National Theatre Live)
Photograph: Catherine Ashmore Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein

The best theatre to watch online right now

Stream these amazing plays, musicals and dance shows at home – because right now, your couch is the best seat in the house

By Time Out editors
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Many thousands of theatres across the globe lie empty, devoid of performers, audience, artistry and applause. The worldwide shutdown has hit actors, dancers and other performing artists hard, and shut spectators away in isolation. Luckily, the internet has opened up a lifeline, allowing performing arts institutions to keep the lights on – virtually, at least. From New York’s Broadway and London’s West End to the vibrant Australian theatre scene and beyond, digital stages have been opening their archives and broadcasting legendary past performances featuring star actors, boundary-pushing directors and incredible sets and costumes. And although you can’t be there in person, these online streaming theatre, dance and opera shows have some advantages over the IRL theatre experience: you’ll always get the best view in the house, and it’s often for free.

Like you, we can’t wait to get back out there and support the theatre in person. But for now, here are the best ways to bring the experience home.

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The best theatre shows streaming now

Michael James Scott in Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney on Broadway
Photograph: Courtesy Monica Simoes

The best New York theater to stream online, updated daily

Theatre

Time Out New York’s lead theater critic, Adam Feldman, rounds up the best theater, opera, dance and cabaret shows from New York City and beyond that you can watch at home every day – from Broadway concerts to the best of the underground theater scene.

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Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in Frankenstein (National Theatre Live)
Photograph: Catherine Ashmore

The National Theatre streams a free play every Thursday night

News Theatre & Performance

The National Theatre in London has the greatest archive of cinema-quality recordings of stage plays of any theatre on the planet, thanks to its formidable NT Live programme. From April 2, every Thursday will see a new National Theatre play released – and free to watch for one week.

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By Jeeves
Photograph: Courtesy the Really Useful Company

Watch Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biggest musicals free on YouTube

News Theatre & Performance

Starting on Friday April 3, Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, in partnership with Universal, will offer free access to his back catalog of hugely successful musicals. A different Lloyd Webber show will stream each week on YouTube.

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Kabuki at National Theatre, Tokyo
Photo: National Theatre, Tokyo

Watch one of Japan’s best kabuki plays for free

News Theatre & Performance

Tokyo’s National Theatre had to close at the end of February, so this performance was recorded in March without an audience. Until April 30, you can watch the three main acts of the kabuki drama ‘Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees’ ('Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura') on the theatre's official YouTube channel.

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Scenesaver: fringe theatre streaming platform
Photograph: Scenesaver

Stream fringe theatre from around the world

It’s not just major institutions that are making their catalogues available online to theatrophiles. A whole host of smaller venues and companies have uploaded videos to Scenesaver, a new pay-what-you-wish streaming website giving independent, fringe theatre a presence during lockdown. The productions are mostly from the UK but also include shows from Ireland, the USA and even Namibia.

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‘I Due Foscari’ at Festival Verdi
Photograph: Teatro Regio Parma

Stream classic operas by Verdi, Mozart and Puccini for free

News Theatre & Performance

Streaming platform OperaVision has vastly expanded its free online programme in the wake of the global lockdown, and has just announced twice-weekly streams starting on April 3. This month the theme is Italy, the birthplace of opera, and its continuing influence around the world.

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Balletboyz: Deluxe, Sadler’s Wells 2020
Photograph: George Piper

London’s home of dance is streaming shows for free

News Theatre & Performance

London’s most famous dance theatre, the legendary Sadler’s Wells, has had its entire programme suspended. Fortunately, it’s opening up its substantial digital vaults during our current crisis, presenting new content on its streaming platform Digital Stage.

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Richard II, RSC, 2013, David Tennant
Photograph: Kwame Lestrade

Watch shedloads of plays with a Marquee TV trial

News Theatre & Performance

Marquee TV has a huge amount of top-notch Royal Shakespeare Company stuff, Oscar Wilde plays, ballet work and operas – and it’s offering a 30-day free trial. Whatever happens, we’re all gonna come out of this terrible thing a lot more cultured.

Clare Halse in 42nd Street
Photograph: Courtesy Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

Watch classic musicals with a BroadwayHD trial

Theatre

A streaming service specifically aimed at theater lovers, BroadwayHD offers a slate of almost 300 whole, high-quality, professionally filmed live  performances from Broadway, the West End and beyond. Subscriptions cost just $8.99 a month – and for new subscribers, the first week is free.

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Also streaming: concerts by top musical artists

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