All the world’s a stage, so they say… all right, not right now, they’re not. Yes, sadly, London’s Theatreland has pulled down the rafters, with West End productions postponing performances for the foreseeable future. Of course, it won’t be that way forever; soon enough, you’ll be able to book at recreational and corporate accommodation London again – and take in a show during your stay there. But until then, how to ger your theatre fix? The answer is online – via streaming…
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Fans of Lloyd Webber’s back-catalogue are in for a treat because, via a YouTube channel called ‘The Shows Must Go On’, the musical theatre giant’s currently streaming performances of some of his best-loved creations – in the form of some of their most popular productions – each Friday evening at 7pm (BST). That means, each weekend, you’ve 48 hours to catch the likes of The Phantom of The Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lucky old you.
The National Theatre
Through its online ‘At Home’ service, the South Bank-based National Theatre is sharing some of its best-received fare of recent years. Streaming of the Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller double-header that was its stage adaptation of Frankenstein may have finished earlier this month, but – if you’re quick – you should still be able to catch Simon Godwin’s production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, featuring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo.
For more of the Bard, look no further than the Globe – or, to be precise, its web-based offerings. On a fortnightly the basis, the Thameside venue is delivering the equivalent of a springtime Christmas for Shakespeare lovers, by streaming a host of world-class productions from its enormously extensive archive. Presently, those who are fast on the draw can catch versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, all of which are set to stream until the end of May.
The best of Broadway
YouTube’s where to head for the best of stage fare, Big Apple-style. Broadway’s own channel on the video-showing platform is presently live-streaming a regular series of performances from a selection of its brightest musical theatre artists, such as Kelli O’Hara and Rachel Tucker. Moreover, late last month it hosted a star-studded celebration of the legendary Stephen Sondheim’s contribution to the stage, which included the likes of Christine Baranski, Kristin Chenoweth, Maria Friedman, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Stephen Schwartz and, yes, Meryl Streep
Star-studded new digital plays
Available through the BBC’s digital services from this month onwards, a slew of new plays is coming to screens everywhere, courtesy of UK theatre company Headlong and a team of 14 playwrights. Under the banner ‘Unprecedented: Real Time Theatre from a State of Isolation’, the plays will be written by the likes of James Graham, Jennifer Haley, Duncan Macmillan and Jasmine Lee-Jones, while featuring performing talent including Gemma Arterton, Julian Barratt, Lennie James, Rory Kinnear, James Norton, Alison Steadman and Meera Syal.
It may be a cultural phenomenon now thanks to its hugely acclaimed two-season-TV iteration, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag started out as a one-woman-show and it’s this version – if you need more of it, having binge-watched the heck out of the TV show – that you can now indulge in via Soho Theatre’s on-demand service. It perhaps ought to be noted that the entire rental fee you’ll have to stump up for the experience will be donated to charities helping to combat Covid-19.
Available online until May 24th is Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre production of the Grammy-nominated, multi-Tony award winning musical Fun Home (which was previously staged at the Young Vic). Dating from 2017, this version of the show may not be new, but really, how better to spend a weekend evening when you can’t splash out on a delicious meal experience at West End restaurants?
Royal Opera House
Pop over to ROH’s YouTube channel or Facebook page for its exciting #FromOurHouseToYourHouse online series – each and every Friday, right now, you can watch an entire opera or ballet, previously performed at the hallowed Covent Garden venue.
The Met Opera
Actually, arguably even better, if you’re an opera fan or ballet buff, is the fact that ROH’s NYC equivalent, the Met, is streaming a performed production from its enormous archive every day for up to 20 hours. It’s also free of charge; you can’t say fairer than that for getting access to the greatest works of Puccini, Verdi and Bizet, and more, in your own living room.
Only the Brave
With the opening of this month taking in the 75th anniversary of VE Day, our minds may well be drifting back to memories of when, comparable to so many healthcare workers today, many of our countrymen and -women made sacrifices for millions during the Second World War. So, you may be in the mood to check out (again, in its entirety) a pre-recorded performance of an original musical about Allied soldiers involved in 1944’s D-Day landings – if so, be sure to catch Only the Brave, courtesy of Daniel Sparrow Productions.
The Wind in the Willows
Scheduled to be running at the London Palladium right now – and a fantastic day out in the capital like an Indian afternoon tea London – this vibrant, fun-filled musical production of Kenneth Grahame’s timeless children’s story is, instead, available to be streamed for just £2.99, with the proceeds going to help theatre professionals currently out of work due to lockdown. A fun way to spend the afternoon of which Mr Toad, himself, would surely approve!
Patrick Stewart reads Shakespeare’s sonnets
Finally, how to get your fill of a world-renowned thesp delivering his shtick to the masses when you can’t make it to an awesome auditorium because you can’t stay in any of the luxury hotels in London West End? Why, by popping on to Sir Patrick Stewart’s Twitter feed and enjoying any of his daily uploaded readings (in his deep, honeyed tones) of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which he’s delivering to all and sundry every day during lockdown. Make it so, he clearly thought – and he did!
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