GREAT THEATER, DANCE AND CLASSICAL MUSIC TO TUNE INTO WHILE STUCK AT HOME ·

(Published 3/20 in The New York Times; via Marit Shuman.)

If you’re stuck at home and hankering for the fine arts, there’s plenty online. Since the coronavirus pandemic began temporarily shutting down performing arts venues and museums around the world, cultural organizations have been finding ways to share their work digitally. Performances are being live-streamed, archival material is being resurfaced and social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook are serving as makeshift stages, concert halls and gallery spaces.

Here’s a list of some of what’s streaming and otherwise available on the Internet. The offerings are increasing by the day, so be sure to check in with your favorite arts institutions to see what they’re providing as things develop. And check back here for updates.

Theater

“The Rosie O’Donnell Show” will return for one night only on Sunday at 7 p.m., in support of the Actors Fund. Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Stephanie J. Block and other Broadway stars will appear or perform. The broadcast will be on Broadway.com and the site’s YouTube channel.

The Sirius XM host Seth Rudetsky and his husband, James Wesley, are also producing a daily online mini-show called “Stars in the House,” with actors performing from home, to raise money for the Actors Fund.

Tickets to watch a video of Ren Dara Santiago’s “The Siblings Play” at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater are now available.

At Berkeley Repertory Theater, ticket holders for Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Culture Clash (Still) in America” will be able to access a production broadcast of the show through BroadwayHD.

American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco is offering the opportunity for ticket holders to watch Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s “Gloria” and Lydia R. Diamond’s “Toni Stone” from home on BroadwayHD.

Irish Repertory Theater is releasing videos of its actors performing songs, poems and monologues on its social media channels.

Melissa Errico’s concert performance of her “Sondheim Sublime” album will stream on Sunday at 4 p.m. on the Guild Hall’s YouTube channel.

Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater is offering a free series of live-streamed and archival performances on its YouTube channel.

The 24 Hour Plays, a group that brings actors, writers, directors and composers together to produce new work in a single day, released “Viral Monologues,” videos that paired performers like Hugh Dancy and Bobby Moreno with playwrights including Stephen Adly Guirgis and Jenny Rachel Weiner.

HERE Arts Center is hosting weekly watch parties of full-length past productions, as well as collaborative live-streamed creative activities led by HERE artists and staff members.

Dance

New York Live Arts has posted three full-length performances from its back catalog online.

The Paris Opera Ballet will broadcast “Swan Lake” and its “Tribute to Jerome Robbins.”

All Arts, an arts and culture channel from WNET, offers dance videos on its site.

Members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater banded together to perform “I Been ’Buked,” a section of Alvin Ailey’s masterpiece, “Revelations,” which is now available on Instagram.

Boston Ballet has posted a collection of clips from canceled productions on YouTube.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Samantha van Wissen shared instructional videos to guide dancers at home through the choreographer’s seminal piece “Rosas danst Rosas.”

Mariana Oliveira posted a video on Vimeo of Carolina Ballet performing her piece “Blue Jay Eyes,” whose run was interrupted.

Bayerisches Staatsballett will offer a streamed performance of “Jewels” by George Balanchine from March 21 at 2:30 p.m. to March 22 at 6:59 p.m.

Classical and Opera

The Metropolitan Opera features “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” which are free encore Live in HD presentations. Tune in on Monday for a week of Wagner.

Berliner Philharmoniker is offering free access to all concerts and films in its “Digital Concert Hall.”

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is regularly releasing online playlists of chamber music concerts and events from its archive.

On Site Opera, a company that performs in site-specific settings, is hosting live-streamed “watch parties” of past productions through mid-April.

The 92nd Street Y’s streaming archives have recordings of classical concerts, and there are upcoming live streams from the likes of the Junction Trio (the violinist Stefan Jackiw, the pianist Conrad Tao and the cellist Jay Campbell) and the pianist Jonathan Biss.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s “Keeping Score” project is streaming on the Symphony’s YouTube channel. Episodes are being released in weekly batches and make a good alternative for those who planned on attending Thomas’s final Carnegie Hall performances as the Symphony’s music director this month, before they were canceled.

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TERRENCE MCNALLY, TONY-WINNING PLAYWRIGHT, DIES OF CORONAVIRUS COMPLICATIONS ·

NEW YORK — JANUARY 31, 2014: Playwright Terrence McNally, works with actors on “Mothers and Sons,” at the Roundabout Theatre Company rehearsal studios on January 31, 2014 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL NAGLE

(Richard Natale’s and Brent Lang’s article appeared in Variety, 3/24; via Pam Green.)

Terrence McNally, the playwright behind “Master Class” and “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” has died of complications from coronavirus. He was 81.

The four-time Tony Award winner was a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic COPD. He died on Tuesday at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.

McNally’s resume was notable for its range, barrier-breaking depictions of gay life, and interest in subjects such as middle-aged romance and opera considered taboo by the commercial theater. His career moved from farces like “The Ritz” to thought-provoking, award-winning dramas such as “Love! Valor! Compassion!” and “Master Class.” McNally is one of the first major celebrities to die from coronavirus complications. Broadway and New York theaters have been closed for more than a week due to the pandemic — it’s a public health crisis that threatens the institutions where McNally lived, worked, and received great acclaim.

Though his debut on Broadway, “And Things That Go Bump in the Night,” was universally panned, McNally buckled down and slowly developed his reputation through successful one-act productions, eventually triumphing on Broadway and winning four Tonys, two for dramatic works “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class,” and two for the musical books of “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Ragtime.”

McNally developed a home at the Manhattan Theater Club, where many of his Broadway productions were developed and refined. And while musical productions “Kiss” and “Ragtime” were bigger hits than any of his plays, he was nonetheless one of the few consistent dramatic voices on a Broadway otherwise dominated by lavish musicals and stage versions of hit movies. He was clearly devoted to the theater and worried about the fate of drama on the commercial stage, authoring numerous articles in which he discussed his fears.

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STARS ON SONDHEIM: DONNA MURPHY REVEALS HER INTENSE PREPARATION FOR A SONDHEIM AUDITION ·

(by Broadway.com Staff,  Mar 22; Photo: The New York Post; via Pam Green.)

March 22 marks Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday. It’s impossible to state the great contribution and influences this titan of the stage has made to musical theater, but we’re taking a stab at it by reaching out to some stars who have appeared in his many shows to share their personal experiences.

Donna Murphy may have received her first Tony Award in 1994 for playing the lovesick Fosca in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Passion, but the two-time Tony winner auditioned for Sondheim three times before that. Her first time was for Into the Woods in 1987. She went in for the Witch and got a callback. “I was too unsettling, too scary, and they were worried about how thin I was,” she recalled with a laugh. That role went to Bernadette Peters. Years later, in 2012, Murphy did play the Witch in Into the Woods at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park (which also starred Amy Adams, Denis O’HareJessie Mueller and original Broadway cast member Chip Zien). Here, Murphy discusses the profound impact Sondheim had on her life, and the best note he ever sent her.

Describe your first meeting with Sondheim.
My first meeting with Sondheim would be when I auditioned for the original Broadway production for Into the Woods for the Witch. That was ’87. A year later, I was brought in to audition for the Baker’s Wife. I had a great audition reading with Chip Zien. They came back and said, “We’re not gonna go with Donna. We’re gonna go with somebody that Steve and James has worked with.” I never got to speak with Steve. Then, two-and-a-half years later, I auditioned for a production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Arena Stage [in Washington, D.C.]. They originally called me in for Gussie, and I said, “I want to be seen for Mary, too.” I didn’t get either role but the casting director wrote me and said that Steve had gone on and on about my talent saying, “She should be a theater star. I hope the theater doesn’t lose her to television.” I remember what that note meant to me, mostly in terms of him seeing me because I felt like he got what I was doing. My choices, my efforts—that note made it all worth it.  The first time I spoke with Steve was when I auditioned for the workshop of Passion. I remember after I sang, “I Read,” he said, “Well that was very nice.” I had really gone for it. I’d been basically Fosca at home for about three days—not washing my hair, not showering, just trying to immerse myself in what I imagined this woman’s life to be like. I remember my husband saying, “Honey, you do not have the job yet. Do I really have to have breakfast with Fosca?” After that, it became a more personal collaboration with Steve during Passion.

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OBERAMMERGAU PASSION PLAY CANCELED AS CORONAVIRUS LOCKS DOWN GERMANY ·

(The post Oberammergau Passion Play Canceled as Coronavirus Locks Down Germany appeared first in The New York Times; Photo: The New York Times; via Pam Green.)

Over 400 years ago, villagers swore to stage the play every decade, as long as God spared them from the plague.

In 1633, as the plague swept Europe, the villagers of Oberammergau prayed to God. They promised to perform the story of Jesus’s Passion — his life, death and resurrection — every 10 years, as long as God spared them from the horrors of the disease.

Since then, the people of Oberammergau, in what is now Germany, have largely kept up their end of the bargain.

But, on Thursday, the organizers of the play — which has a cast of some 2,500 and can feature 900 people onstage at once — announced they were canceling this year’s edition of the Passion Play, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first of the 103 daylong performances had been scheduled for May 16. The production will be delayed until 2022, the organizers said in a statement.

Germany is on lockdown because of the virus, with large gatherings banned. On Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel used a rare televised address to plead with people to obey restrictions and self-isolate.

“This is serious,” Ms. Merkel said. “Take it seriously. Since German reunification — no, since World War II — our country has never faced a challenge where we depended so much on our collective actions and solidarity.”

(Read more)

 

FILM ACADEMY MIGHT CHANGE OSCAR RULES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS ·

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 04: Oscar statue at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on February 04, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

(Brandon Katz’s article appeared in the Observer, 3/20;  via Pam Green.)

We’re such Oscar fanatics that mere days after this year’s ceremony we began predicting the nominees and winners of the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards. But with major theater chains closing its doors for weeks on end due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear how the 2021 Oscars will proceed. Films both major and independent are cancelling or delaying their debuts left and right. To compete in the prestigious ceremony, a movie actually needs to be, you know, released.

In response to the Hollywood downturn, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is considering rule changes for qualification. Typically, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles theater to qualify for the Oscars. But with hordes of films being re-routed to video-on-demand and other at-home platforms, that may need to change temporarily.

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LIFE SKETCHES (SHORT SCENES AND MONOLOGUES) “AT THE DOG PARK”3 ·

By Bob Shuman

SCENE: A wet dog park in the Bronx.  

(MARY JANE, early 70’s, sits on a bench in the dog run. Using a launcher, SHE plays fetch with her spaniel, Lantern—although CHRISTIE (male), late 50’s, is throwing most of the balls today (to LANTERN and one of CHRISTIE’S two Jack Russell terriers, JASPER. The other, JUNO, sits on the ground near MARY JANE. ) 

CHRISTIE: Come on, Lantern, come back.  Don’t go down so far.

MARY JANE: Lantern, come back.

CHRISTIE: Jasper got it.

MARY JANE: He knows not to go very far when I’m throwing the ball!

CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.)  I’m trying to get it to you.

MARY JANE: I used to think he was smart.

CHRISTIE: I can’t throw it that far.

MARY JANE: Lantern, Christie’s wearing two pairs of gloves and has the ball in a plastic bag!

CHRISTIE: He missed it.

(Silence.)

CHRISTIE: Lantern, come back this way.

MARY JANE: A hospital ship is being sent to the East Coast.

CHRISTIE: (Explaining to Lantern.) Jasper will intercept it if you go too far downfield.

MARY JANE: Another one is going to the West Coast.

CHRISTIE:  I don’t have the arm for that.

MARY JANE: The problem is they only have 5,000 ventilators in New York.

CHRISTIE: How many do they need?

MARY JANE: 30,000.

(Pause.)

MARY JANE: Do they give one to the 40-year-old—or do I get it, with underlying conditions?

(Silence.)

CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) Stay up here.

MARY JANE:  It used to be a disease would wipe out segments of the population—but we’re not used to that.  We got too smart in eradicating disease.

CHRISTIE: (To Lantern.) Forget it, Lantern—I’m not a professional quarterback!

MARY JANE: They were looking at the people who died in Italy.  The largest group had cases in the elderly population with three or four underlying conditions.  The second group had two–

CHRISTIE:  It’s like fires out West.

MARY JANE: Exactly. 

(The dogs suddenly begin to bark at children outside the fence.)

CHRISTIE: (To the dogs.) That’s enough, that’s enough. (About the dogs, to the children.

MARY JANE:  Lantern, stop barking.   

CHRISTIE: (To the children and nanny.) They’re just saying good morning.

MARY JANE: All the children are off from school.

CHRISTIE: (To the children, about the dogs.) They’re just saying hello.  You don’t have to be scared of them.  They’re just big talkers.

(The nanny and children move on and the dogs stop barking. Silence.)

MARY JANE: How is your son?

CHRISTIE: Still in Edinburgh. Going on lockdown.  He doesn’t want to come home. Says it’s as bad over here as it is there.

(Silence.)

MARY JANE: You know in Venice, without all the tourists there, the canals are like glass.  Crystal clear. Blue. You can see all the way to the bottom.

CHRISTIE: Lantern, you got the ball!

(End)

(C) Copyright 2020 by Bob Shuman.  All rights reserved.

15 BROADWAY PLAYS AND MUSICALS YOU CAN WATCH ON STAGE FROM HOME ·

(Logan Culwell-Block’s article appeared on Playbill.com,  3/18 and 10/6; photo: Playbill.com; via Pam Green.)

(Don’t forget  the current free Nightly Opera Stream from the Met Opera.) 

From Newsies to Sweeney Todd, we’re running down some of the best filmed Broadway shows—and where to find them.

This article has been updated as of March 16, 2020.

While it used to be a rare treat when a Broadway show was filmed live on stage, it’s becoming more and more common today—great news for Broadway fans. Now, if you can’t make it to New York City or just want to see a show you may have missed, there’s an ever-growing list of productions available to watch wherever you are.

READ: 11 Musical TV Shows to Binge While Self-Quarantined During the Coronavirus Outbreak

More and more, live musicals are being filmed for PBS or streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BroadwayHD and more. Productions of Off-Broadway’s Puffs to Broadway’s Indecent to the West End’s An American in Paris, new captures of stage productions regularly become available.

READ: Join Playbill March 20 for a Movie Night With Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella Starring Lesley Ann Warren

Let’s take a look at some of the best filmed Broadway shows to know about and where to find them.

READ: 17 Must-Watch Documentaries for Broadway Musical Fans

Rent

Jonathan Larson’s Rent updates the story of Puccini’s La Boheme, setting it in New York City’s East Village. As most theatre fans know, it made a splash on Broadway, and the level of devotion its biggest fans carried had never really been seen before. It was the first major Broadway show to offer rush tickets, and fans would camp out overnight to get inexpensive front row tickets. The production won four 1996 Tony Awards including Best Musical, along with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It enjoyed a run of 12 years and over 5,000 performances.

Though it was adapted into a motion picture in 2005 featuring much of the original Broadway cast, the final performance of the Broadway production was captured and shown in movie theatres as well, later released on DVD and Blu-ray. At the time of the filming, the cast was not exceptionally well known, but looking back now, it’s pretty much an all-star cast, including performances by Renée Elise Goldsberry, Adam KantorWill ChaseMichael McElroy, Rodney Hicks, Tracie Thoms, Eden Espinoza, and Telly Leung.

Available on Amazon PrimeGoogle PlayVudu, and YouTube, as well as on DVD/Blu-ray from Amazon.

Cats

Once Broadway’s longest-running musical, everybody has an opinion on this Andrew Lloyd Webber show, but what can’t be denied is that Cats is like almost no other musical to ever play the Main Stem. Based on a book of poetry by T.S. Eliot, Cats is about… well, cats! The production features an iconic costume and set design by John Napier, leglendary make-up design by Candace Carell, fabulous choreography by Gillian Lynne, and of course the anthem “Memory,” one of the more successful songs to come from a musical in the last 40 years.

Cats wasn’t filmed on Broadway, but the original production was captured on a stage in London in 1998, with original West End star Elaine Paige no less.

Available to stream on BroadwayHD, Amazon Prime, and on DVD from Amazon.

Company

Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company broke all the rules when it opened on Broadway in 1970. Instead of offering a linear plot, Company explored the concept of marriage through a series of scenes between Bobby, a 35-year-old bachelor, and a variety of his married friends. The show gave us such songs as “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “Sorry Grateful,” “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” and “Being Alive,” and ushered in a new era of daring musical theatre on Broadway.

The original production was never filmed for home release—though there is a fascinating documentary (Original Cast Album: Company) that captures the original cast album’s recording session—but a 2006 Broadway revival directed by John Doyle and starring Raúl Esparza was filmed for broadcast on PBS. There’s also a New York Philharmonic concert staging available that features an all-star cast, including Neil Patrick HarrisPatti LuPone, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, and more. And, of course, IFC’s Documentary Now! famously spoofed the documentary of the cast recording in Original Cast Album: Co-Op with John Mulaney as a Sondheim substitute.

The 2006 Broadway revival production is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and on DVD.
The 2011 concert production is available on DVD.
Original Cast Album: Co-op is available on Netflix and IFC.com.

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