Miss Broadway? Here’s How to Stream Great Theater to Your Home

"Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" at the Wyndham's Theatre in the West End

By Jonathan Spira on 6 April 2020
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Socially distanced and sequestered.  New phrases entering the vocabulary reflect the reality of the Broadway world.  No doubt composers of musical theater are already thinking of songs featuring those very words.

What survived hurricanes, blizzards, and SARS, hadn’t met Covid-19:  The promiscuous way in which the virus spreads led to an almost worldwide closing of live theater and there is no end in sight.

Fortunately, the pandemic is occurring in an age where high-speed Internet at home is virtually the norm and theater fans can still enjoy an evening at home with perhaps a friend and a separation of six feet (two meters), unlike what the options for Londoners were in 1606 during an outbreak of bubonic plague, when that city’s theaters were shuttered.  You can also watch the same performance with a friend or loved one sequestered elsewhere and text back and forth.

“The King of I” at Lincoln Center

In other words, there’s no reason to miss out on some of the best that Broadway and the West End has to offer, without leaving the comfort of your home. As Prospero said at the end of “The Tempest,”  “our revels now are ended,” but new revels await you online.

Here follow our reviews of two services that bring great theater to your home.

BROADWAYHD

The aptly-named BroadwayHD service has the largest catalog of shows on the Web.  Without leaving home, I was able to see Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in the stage adaptation of “Driving Miss Daisy,” Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe in “The King and I” and, Andrew Rannells and Christian Borle in the Lincoln Center revival of “Falsettos,” Audra McDonald as the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” and the 1999 National Theater production of “Oklahoma!”

BroadwayHD also has the entire library of the 1970s “American Film Theatre,” a service I wasn’t overly familiar with but which used movie theaters to present plays “translated to the film medium, but with complete faithfulness to the original play script.”  These include Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh” with Lee Marvin and Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” starring Katharine Hepburn.

The service has a comprehensive library of older made-for-television movies as well. Want to see Julie Harris reprise her starring role in the 1976 television production of the Broadway play “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” or the 1973 PBS production of “Steambath,” a play in which the afterlife is a steambath and God is the steambath attendant?  All these and a few dozen more are available on BroadwayHD.

Available for Apple TV, Apple iOS devices, Android, Fire TV, Roku, and Web browsers.

MARQUEE TV

“Every Night is Opening Night” is a new initiative offered by online broadcaster Marquee TV in partnership with the Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company, in addition to its standard fare of theater, ballet, opera, and dance performances.

If you missed seeing Gregory Doran’s 2013 “Richard II” starring David Tennant, or perhaps Doran’s 2016 production of “The Tempest,” as well as “La Traviata” and the double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, this is an excellent service and it offers a 30-day trial.

We’ve found excellent and recent productions of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Lady Windermere’s Fan” on the service as well as the Royal Ballet’s performance of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the Bolshoi’s production of “Swan Lake.”

A particularly enjoyable documentary (the service offers over two dozen) is “The Highest Level,” which chronicles Lang Lang and the Berlin Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle as they record Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, the most famous and most performed of Prokofiev’s five, in which with hand-crossing and very tricky fingering the composer pushes the pianist to his limits.

Available for Apple TV, Apple iOS devices, Android, Fire TV, Roku, and Web browsers.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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