Here's how to get your theatre fix while social distancing.
In a time when physically going to the theatre goes against government advice, many are going online for their stage fix. With a number of established institutions offering online alternatives, stars of the stage turning to social media, and streaming services filled with a variety of options, here’s our guide to streaming the best theatre directly into your home.
Updated: 5 September 2020
Adapted from the full-length play written by acclaimed playwright and performer Arinzé Kene, good dog stars Anton Cross as Boy as he narrates the past and present, chronicling coming of age in a multicultural community. Set during the early ’00s, good dog delves into the everyday injustices that drive people to take back control. Directed by Andrew Gillman and Natalie Ibu, the film was comissioned by The Space and supported by BBC and Arts Council England.
Recorded in January at The Boulevard Theatre, the fully improvised These Folk builds an unexpected world through songs and music. Originally set to run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe over the summer, creators Susan and Justin instead opted to release this condensed version online before stages reopen.
Based in New York City, the world-renowned Lincoln Centre is hosting a number of performances on their YouTube channel, alongside concerts for kids and pop-up classrooms.
The channel is now hosting a performance of Carousel, featuring acclaimed actors Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn, Stephanie Blythe, Shuler Hensley, Jason Danieley, Jessie Mueller,Kate Burton, John Cullum and New York City Ballet dancers Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck.
The 2020 Platform Presents Playwright’s Prize winner will be announced on Saturday 15 August at 18:00. Founded in 2017, the award which includes ongoing mentoring and a £5,000 cash prize was designed to nurture rising talent, with a particular interest in female voices. This year over 200 plays were submitted. Stars like Aimee Lou Wood, Dianna Agron, Kyle Soller, Phoebe Fox, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Aki Omoshaybi and George MacKay are supporting the event with self-filmed video excerpts from the finalist plays.
As part of the BBC’s Culture In Quarantine initiative, see a special presentation of Almeida’s hit production Albion from Sunday 16 August 2020 at 22:10. Originally running in 2017, it was directed by Rupert Goold and stars Victoria Hamilton, who played the Queen Mother in The Crown. The cast also includes Nigel Betts, Edyta Budnik, Wil Coban, Margot Leicester, Nicholas Rowe, Helen Schlesinger, Angel Coulby, Dónal Finn, Geoffrey Freshwater and Daisy Edgar-Jones, who recently received acclaim as Marianne in the TV adaptation of the novel Normal People.
Featuring the original cast from the on-board production, Disney Cruises have revealed a full stage version of Tangled: The Musical on YouTube. Following the tale of Repunzel, with Elisha Ainsley in the main role, the 2015 production features three new songs not featured in the 2010 Academy Award nominated film, written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.
Created during lockdown by Waitress star David Hunter and singer-songwriter Caroline Key, The Space Between has been released in full to support the Theatre Artists Fund. Communicating over Whatsapp, Hunter and Kay wrote the musical in three weeks and arranged the video in collaboration with musical supervisor Nick Barstow.
The Old Vic continues to make full-length productions available for free. From 19:00 on Wednesday 5 August 2020, fans can access Jekyll and Hyde, directed and choreographed by award-winner Drew McOnie (Jesus Christ Superstar, Strictly Ballroom). The production will star Daniel Collins as Dr Jekyll, Tim Hodges as Mr Hyde and Rachel Muldoon as Dahlia, alongside Ashley Andrews, Joao Carolino, Carrie Taylor Johnson, Anabel Kutay, Ebony Molina, Fraya Rowley, Alexzandra Sarmiento, Barnaby Thompson and Jason Winter.
BBC iPlayer is hosting Culture In Quarantine in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company, offering eight full-length productions. Fans can access streams of the playwright’s The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Merchant Of Venice, Romeo And Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing throughout the summer.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Show Must Go On series concluded with a re-run of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring Donny Osmond. The YouTube channel continues to present clips throughout the summer from productions such as Cats, The Phantom Of The Opera, and Hairspray, before returning in the near future with an all-new season of full-length productions.
The National Theatre has presented some of the best theatre to the masses through their At Home service, including One Man Two Guvnors, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. The theatre’s YouTube channel continues to host trailers and exclusive behind the scene footage.
If you’re part of a UK educational institution, you may be able to access The National Theatre’s archives. This free educational resource is full of high-quality recordings of past stage productions from recent critical darlings to fondly remembered shows from decades ago. So whether you’re a student wondering what to do now your exams are postponed or a teacher putting together some distance-learning material, you can always put a few hours aside for yourself and emulate a day at the theatre.
Having cancelled the physical event, a virtual West End Live took place on 20 – 21 June 2020 and was streamed on Facebook. Both days featured some of the most memorable performances from across the last five years.
West End Live has also been posting activities around the performances, with quizzes, live piano requests, and more. Find more information on the official West End Live website.
Ovalhouse has been presenting 360° plays filmed by LIVR. In total, four plays will be available to watch – Koko Brown’s critically acclaimed productions, WHITE and GREY, Mike Kenny’s Random Selfies, and Derailed. Enjoyed in full 360° as if fans were sat in the auditorium, also offering an immersive VR experience, Derailed remains to be streamed. Full details, including timings, can be found on the Brixton House website.
The Royal Opera House is hosting a series of full-length productions on their YouTube channel, including Faust, Romeo And Juliet, and more.
Having premiered a number of productions, Bristol Old Vic are hosting an At Home hub including a family arts hub, means to stay connected, and the Bristol Arts Channel hosting discussion, films, and virtual tours.
Taking place on Saturday 6 June 2020, the Barn Theatre celebrated the work of Elliot Davis. The event welcomed performances from Aimie Atkinson (Six), Luke Bayer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Tsemaye Bob-Egbe (Tina), Busted and Son of Dork singer James Bourne (co-writer of Loserville), Lucie Jones (Waitress), Aaron Lee Lambert (Hamilton), Sam Lupton (Avenue Q), 2020 musical theatre graduate Jordan McMahon, Jamie Muscato (Heathers), Aaron Sidwell (Wicked) and Jos Slovick (Spring Awakening).
Elliot Davis’ work includes Loserville, Out There and Best Friends And Butterflies.
Southwark Playhouse have launched Southwark Stayhouse, an online collection of full-length theatre shows from their archives, available to watch until the theatre physically opens its doors once again. The series includes the likes of Wasted, Bound, Twelfth Night, and The Beast Will Rise.
The English National Ballet are hosting a number of performances on their YouTube channel, including a series of short dance films, a number of dance classes, and ballet highlights.
London’s most iconic playhouse is streaming from their archives full of recordings of world-class productions. Check out their website for a season full of Shakespeare including The Two Noble Kinsmen, Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as a number of YouTube premieres and links to BBC iPlayer.
Cirque Du Soleil are hosting an online content hub which includes everything from opportunities to indulge in the company’s celebrated music, to behind the curtain episodes for a number of their shows, and DIY guides for kids and adults alike, including face paining, fitness and dance. There are also a number of Cirque Du Soleil specials, including 60 minute specials with footage from the live performances.
Featuring the music of Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Graeae Theatre Company’s Reasons To Be Cheerful will be available for two months from 3 June 2020 until 3 August 2020. The 2017 production includes songs such as Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Plaistow Patricia and Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll.
With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child set to continue to dazzle fans in the heart of the West End, some famous faces (and voices) have been reading through the first Harry Potter book, including Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Fry and Eddie Redmayne.
Narrated by Angela Scanlon, the documentary follows Amy-Mae Dolan and the cast of Riverdance as they prepare for the 25th Anniversary show at Dublin’s 3 Arena. The episode aired on BBC One on Wednesday 13 May 2020 and is now available to watch online.
UK based theatre company Headlong teamed up with a number of prominent playwrights to create new, digital plays. Confirming new works by fourteen playwrights, the productions are available to view on BBC iPlayer. The impressive list of writers include James Graham – renowned for his West End plays Quiz, Ink, Labour Of Love and This House – alongside the likes of Jennifer Haley, Duncan Macmillan and Jasmine Lee-Jones.
The full series will star the likes of Gemma Arterton, James Norton, Lennie James, Hulian Barratt, Rory Kinnear, Meera Syal and Alison Steadman.
Soho Theatre’s On Demand service is offering fans the opportunity to rent the live version of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s multi-award winning and highly acclaimed Fleabag. All proceeds from the rental fee will be donated to support charities leading the fight against Covid-19.
Beginning life as the one-woman comedy-drama stage show, Fleabag has gone on to become a prominent BBC production spread across two seasons. It stars Waller-Bridge in the title role alongside an equally brilliant turn by Academy Award winner Olivia Coleman.
The West End production of Les Misérables have revealed a behind the scenes documentary starring Michael Ball, Alfie Boe, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Matt Lucas.
Daniel Sparrow Productions have made a recording of the new musical Only The Brave available to stream in its entirety, completely free of charge. The rousing original musical tells the story of the soldiers that won the D-Day landings in the Second World War, forever cementing their legacy as heroes.
Audiences are able to enjoy the Made At Curve and Theatre Royal Bath co-production of What The Butler Saw on the Curve Theatre’s website. Written by the late Joe Orton, the Nikolai Foster directed production was first performed to mark 50 years since the passing of the Leicester playwright.
Wind In The Willows are streaming their entire musical in aid of several theatre charities that will be crucial in providing relief for professionals in the industry right now. Available to rent for just £2.99, you can follow the beloved characters from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book in this colourful and energetic retelling.
Fans of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society should can head on over to iPlayer to check out The Goes Wrong Show. Written and produced by the team behind The Play The Goes Wrong, this series sees the fictional ramshackle theatre group put on a pilot for a different TV genre with each episode. Expect to see inaccurate WW2 dramas, low budget period pieces and one misguided Christmas special.
A new collective of over 60 theatre professionals came together to support a number of charitable organisations helping people in the industry affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Theatre Together organised the online event All The Web’s A Stage, which took place on 23 April 2020 and included performances from David Hunter, Joanne Clifton and Marisha Wallace.
The YouTube channel is hosting regular live-stream performances by a range of musical stars, including Kelli O’Hara and Rachel Tucker.
On Sunday 26 April 2020, the channel hosted a celebration of the work of Stephen Sondheim, including appearances by Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani, Iain Armitage, Stephen Schwartz and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage Company, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.
The theatre company is releasing a whole host of their previously recorded shows, with a new play airing every two weeks. The series includes Oh, The Night, Night Of The Living Dead (17 April), Arrivals And Departures (1 May) 6 Degrees Below The Horizon (15 May) and Yorkshire Electric (29 May) with more to be announced.
The Met Opera are providing daily new operas to stream for 20 hours, selected from their extensive archives of past productions, and completely free of charge. Check it out each night to see the greats from Puccini, Verdi, Donzetti, Bizet and more.
Gecko Theatre Company have a select number of full-length productions on their YouTube channel. Their shows range from 30 minutes to well over an hour, devising some of the best physical theatre around.
What do you do when you can’t go and see your favourite Shakespeare plays? Get your friends together and read them! Robert Myles is doing just that via The Show Must Go Online YouTube channel. Having started with Two Gentlemen Of Verona, a collective of actors read through the plays in the order they were written.
Starkid Productions, a collective of theatre creators, have been writing and sharing their musicals for the last ten years, starting from when they were students together at the University Of Michigan. They rose to online fame with the release of A Very Potter Musical, a parody of the stories about the boy wizard starring a pre-Glee Darren Criss in the title role.
Since then, they’ve produced a number of original musicals, including parodies of the ’80s video game The Oregon Trail and the cult sci-fi film Starship Troopers, and hosted them all on their YouTube channel free of charge.
Remember to follow your favourite theatres, art spaces, productions, and stage stars across social platforms to be one of the first to know about any exciting future online events.