Dirty Dancing, The Terminator, La La Land and more are scheduled.
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: Thursday 21 May 2020
Andrew Lloyd Webber has wrapped up the first run of his productions, including The Phantom Of The Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Webber’s self-proclaimed “disaster musical”, By Jeeves. Fans can now look forward to the Emmy Award-winning 2016 production of Hairspray, available for 48 hours from Friday 29 May 2020.
The National Theatre is bringing some of the best theatre to the masses through their At Home service. From Thursday 28 May, This House by celebrated writer James Graham will be available to stream online, followed by Tom Hiddleston starring in Coriolanus. The videos will be released at 19:00 on the given day, and available to view for 7 days.
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.
The Royal Opera House has confirmed another month of full-length productions, launching at 19:00 on the given day. The Cellist will be available from 29 May, followed by Il trittico from 5 June. La Fille mal gardée will premiere on 12 June, with The Magic Flute scheduled for 19 June 2020.
From Friday 5 June 2020, The Old Vic will be making full-length productions available for free, beginning with Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls, directed by Sally Cookson.
A socially distanced production of Lungs will also be live-streamed from the empty Old Vic, presented live to audiences on a nightly basis throughout rehearsals. The Old Vic will then host a full line-up of play readings from its empty auditorium.
Premiering at 19:00 on the given day, Bristol Old Vic have confirmed a series of three shows to be made available for free. Starting on 29 May, fans can access the 2017 production of Messiah, directed by the venue’s artist director Tom Morris. A Monster Calls will be available from 7 June, with hit musical The Grinning Man scheduled for 26 June 2020. Further productions are expected to be announced.
Having cancelled the physical event, a virtual West End Live will take place on 20 – 21 June 2020, streamed on Facebook. Both will feature performances from previous years, available to watch for 24 hours following the premiere.
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 is hosting a new performance via their YouTube channel every Wednesday as part of their #WednesdayWatchParty. From Wednesday 27 May 2020, the company are streaming Derek Deane’s iconic Swan Lake featuring lead principals Isaac Hernández as Prince Siegfried and Jurgita Dronina as Odette/Odile.
Every two week’s, London’s most iconic playhouse is streaming a different play from their archives full of recordings of world-class productions. Check out their website for a season full of Shakespeare running until June, including productions of Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Cirque Du Soleil have launched 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.
Based in New York City, the world-renowned Lincoln Centre will be streaming musicals free of charge throughout June, including Carousel, The Nance, and Act One.
From 5 June 2020 fans can watch Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel starring Kelli O’Hara, Nathan Gunn and more. Nathan Lane stars in The Nance from 12 June 2020, and Jame Lapine’s Act One – telling the tale of Moss Hart – runs from 19 June 2020.
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) are 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 are teaming up with a number of prominent playwrights to create new, digital plays. Confirming new works by fourteen playwrights, the productions will be premiered later this month (full details to be revealed soon). 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 series will star the likes of Gemma Arterton, James Norton, Lennie James, Hulian Barratt, Rory Kinnear, Meera Syal and Alison Steadman. Eleven of the digital plays will be broadcast on BBC Four across three nights with all fourteen available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
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.
Adapted from comedian and acclaimed children’s writer David Walliams’ book of the same name, The Midnight Gang is available to stream free of charge for one month from 30 April 2020, courtesy of Chichester Festival Theatre.
Chichester Festival Theatre are also streaming a new version of Beauty and the Beast, available for 30 days from 21 May 2020. Directed by Dale Rooks and based on the fairy tale by Anna Ledwich, the production promises a fair few surprises as it adapts the original story.
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.
Following twin showgirls as they navigate the often contradictory world of glamour and darkness, Emma Rice’s adaptation of Angela Carter’s novel is available to stream in full on BBC iPlayer.
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.
Eugenius The Musical have released a recording of the entire musical on their Facebook page to raise money for the charity, Acting For Others. Following Eugene, Janey and Feris as they find the superhero within, this musical is packed with unforgettable songs and gut-busting laughs.
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.
London’s Royal Court Theatre are hosting a filmed version of Cyprus Avenue by David Ireland. The production is available to watch for free on the Royal Court website, their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. The filmed version comprises a combination of captured theatre performance and on-location footage, and stars Stephen Rea and Vicky Featherstone.
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.
The Theatre Café is hosting a Leave A Light On concert series. Twice a day, fans are able to tune into a 45-minute set from established and emerging names from the West End. For a small fee fans can watch these special online concerts and support the arts in these difficult times. At the time of writing, they have raised over £12,000 in just two weeks from tickets bought by fans to see the likes of Lucie Jones, Cassidy Janson and Layton Williams perform. Keep checking back to see their upcoming line-ups.
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.
Half Moon, one of the UK’s leading young people’s venue and touring company, is presenting a new full-length family friendly show every Wednesday. As well as the full shows, families can also access backstage interviews and further information on virtual opportunities over the coming weeks. The list of available shows includes the award-winning What Once Was Ours – an immersive show about identity and belonging – as well as the poignant Boys Don’t.
The accessible theatre company will be presenting three online productions in both spoken English and British Sign Language, starting with Love’s Labour’s Lost.
In partnership with The Guardian, Hampstead Theatre productions will be available to stream via their At Home service. The series includes Beth Steel’s Wonderland, which first showed in 2014 and took audiences into every facet of the UK Miners’ Strike in the 1980s, and Drawing The Line by Howard Brenton – a passionate dive into the chaotic partitioning of India.
Few companies can boast of making as many as 24 theatre productions available to watch for free. Belarus Free Theatre’s YouTube channel is releasing a new show every weekend across three months, spanning its entire history. This year it celebrates 15 years of making accessible theatre as well as launching a new fairy tale inspired campaign, #LoveOverVirus.
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.
Hosting a new show every week – having started with My Perfect Mind – Told By An Idiot capture the absurdity of the human condition, providing much-needed escapism times like these. Keep checking back with them to see what they upload for us to watch next.
Sir Patrick Stewart is ensuring nobody goes without their daily dose of Shakespeare by reading a sonnet a day on Twitter. It’s one thing having a read of these iconic poems yourself but it’s something else hearing them in Patrick’s honeyed tones.
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. And you don’t have to merely sit and listen, there’s also the possibility to join the readings yourself.
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.
Netflix hosts John Mulaney and Nick Kroll’s hit show Oh, Hello On Broadway sits somewhere between stand-up comedy and a two-hander play. There’s also Barbra: The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic!, celebrating Streisand’s glittering career, and John Leguizamo’s hilarious one-man show Latin History For Morons.
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.