The art and business of live theatre have taken an enormous hit in the wake of COVID-19. Broadway went dark on March 12. Soon after, regional theaters all over the U.S. sent their performers, crews and musicians home, boarding up their doors on the way out. High schools and universities canceled their spring productions, and many college theatre students have spent the last few months learning and performing in their living rooms via Zoom.
However, the theatre community is innovative and resilient. Although theaters must remain dark for the time being, there are always ways for the show to go on from the safety of your own home. From platforms like Disney+ to Netflix, from BroadwayWorld to The Actors Fund, there are endless ways to access some great theatre online. Ranging from musical theatre, Shakespeare and at-home concerts, here are 10 picks for theatre-related content to stream and binge during the quarantine.
1. Movie Musicals on Netflix:
If you have a subscription, Netflix is a pretty great platform to watch some classic movie musicals as well as some high-quality recordings of Broadway shows. The streaming service currently has some fun options like “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Jersey Boys” and “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Netflix also has a recorded stage production of “Shrek the Musical” and “Oh, Hello On Broadway,” which is an absolutely hilarious two-man show starring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll.
2. “Living Room Concerts” on Broadwayworld.com
Head over to BroadwayWorld.com to watch a series of songs performed by musical theatre stars from their homes. Some of the most beautiful performances include Joel Montague from the West End cast of “Waitress” singing “Out There” from Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Beth Malone from the original cast of “Fun Home” singing “Ring of Keys.”
3. “The Disney Family Singalong” on Youtube
Although a lot of people already tuned in to watch this celebrity singalong when it aired on ABC, all the clips are available on ABC’s YouTube channel for those who missed it or just want to watch it again. It’s definitely worth checking out, even if you’re just going back to re-watch Ariana Grande and Darren Criss sing their own backup vocals in “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” and “I Wanna Be In Love.”
4. Broadway Classics on Amazon Prime
For those who have an Amazon Prime subscription, there are some great movie musicals to choose from on this platform. A lot of classics and older musicals such as “Funny Girl,” “Hair,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Fiddler on the Roof” are available. They also have “Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway,” which is an amazing documentary detailing the creation of the musical “Hamilton” and its path to the stage.
5. Feinstein’s/54 Below At Home
Feinstein’s/54 Below, coined “Broadway’s Supper Club,” usually offers elegant dining and performances by some of the biggest names in musical theatre in NYC. However, following the COVID-19 outbreak, the club began live streaming a few past performances for free on YouTube as one-time-only events. One notable upcoming live stream is Lea Salonga’s cabaret show that will air on the 54Below YouTube channel on Saturday, June 13. For a detailed schedule of their upcoming events, visit the 54Below website.
6. “Great Performances” on PBS
PBS has a large collection of past episodes of “Great Performances,” a series in which they air some high-quality stage production recordings. On their website, they’re now offering a few of these recordings at a time for free, and a subscription to PBS Passport will unlock the whole collection to be streamed right from the PBS website or app. Currently, some of the fantastic free stage productions include a 2009 limited engagement run of “Macbeth,” starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, and a production of the Opera “Orphée et Eurydice,” which is produced by Lyric Opera of Chicago in collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet.
7. Animated Nostalgia & Waiting for “Hamilton” on Disney+
Not everyone has a Disney+ subscription, but for those who do, it’s definitely an excellent way to stream some musical theatre from home. There are plenty of classic animated Disney musicals, as well as some of their new live-action counterparts, like “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” They also have the fantastic recorded stage production of “Newsies” starring Jeremy Jordan, as well as movie musicals like “Into the Woods,” “The Sound of Music” and the 1999 “Annie.” However, the biggest appeal of this platform is probably the stage production of the hit musical “Hamilton.” On July 3, a recording of the original Broadway cast, starring Lin Manuel-Miranda, will be released on Disney+.
8. “The Shows Must Go On!” on YouTube
This YouTube channel live streams a full-length recording of a past theatre production every Friday and leaves it available for viewing for 48 hours. “The Shows Must Go On!” was first set up with the intention to stream an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical each week. However, after airing six Lloyd Webber productions, they announced that they’ll continue the weekly live streams with other productions as well. Since making this decision, they’ve streamed shows like “Hairspray Live!” and “The Sound of Music Live.” They post trailers and teasers for their next live stream on their channel, so keep an eye on it to see which musical they’re airing next.
9. “Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration” on YouTube:
In honor of Stephen Sondheim turning 90 years old, Broadway.com hosted a virtual tribute to the brilliant and accomplished composer. From Josh Groban to Patti LuPone to Lin Manuel-Miranda, some of the biggest stars of film and theatre performed gorgeous and unique renditions of Sondheim songs; their at-home clips were skillfully woven into the official livestream video that aired April 26 on Youtube. Luckily for all of us, the entire video is up on Broadway.com’s YouTube channel, so anyone can check it out and enjoy clips like Bernadette Peters’ performance of “No One Is Alone” from “Into the Woods” and Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep and Audra McDonald singing “The Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company.”
10. “Stars in the House” on YouTube:
This live streamed series began in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak not only to make theatre accessible online to everyone stuck at home but also as a fundraiser for The Actors Fund, which is a national human services organization providing emergency financial assistance and social services to those in the performing arts industry. So far, the hosts, Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, have had fantastic guests like Kristen Chenowith, Jason Alexander and Jeremy Jordan to chat and perform live from their homes. There have also been some heartwarming episodes dedicated to reuniting the cast of a Broadway or TV show, like Episode 58: “GLEE Cast Reunion” and Episode 27: “Reunion with the Broadway Cast of Fun Home.” There are currently more than 84 hour-long episodes, which can be found on The Actors Fund’s YouTube channel where viewers are given the opportunity to make a donation. “Stars in the House” plans to continue live streaming new episodes until Broadway opens back up.
No matter how long theaters have to stay closed to ensure public safety, it seems like this will be enough content to keep the theatre community satisfied, entertained and inspired.
Rachel Golkin is an Entertainment Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.