Are we feeling merry yet? The Turkey Day tryptophan has barely worn off and the countdown is already beginning to Hanukkah (Dec. 10-18 this year) as well as Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year. And this week’s virtual theatrical offerings offer plenty of signs of the season, even amid a pandemic and the reminder of another, with World AIDS Day, and range from the family-friendly to the outré, the filmic to the improvisatory.
So fire up the Netflix fireplace and the laptop (unless your smart TV can put all this content on a big screen—mileage may vary) and see what the nation’s theatremakers have crafted for direct delivery.
Western Connecticut State University’s New Works – New Voices Festival is offering five full-length virtual productions, streaming over the course of 10 days. This virtual production series is dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalized and underrepresented playwrights and composers. Among the productions will be the world premiere of The Radium Girls: A Jaw-Dropping New Musical, a female-driven, horror-laced dark comedy inspired by the stories and spirits of the incredible young women who worked the factory line at the United States Radium Corporation in the 1920s, written by Amanda D’Archangelis, Sami Horneff, and Lisa Mongillo, directed by Tim Howard, and music directed by Justin P. Cowan. That streams Fri., Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. E.T and Sun., Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. E.T. Tickets to individual streams are $5 and can be purchased here, and a flex pass for access to all five productions in the festival is $20 and can be purchased here.
Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta is offering Improvised Made-for-TV Christmas Movie, featuring Amber Nash, Kevin Gillese, and a ringer of sorts: bona fide Hallmark Channel writer Topher Payne. Laugh at the silly tropes of these studiously inoffensive direct-to-basic-cable gems—and learn why they resonate. This show will be performed live Fri.-Sat., Nov. 27-Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. ET. Tickets are $15.
The first production of Philadelphia-based Theatre Exile’s 2020/21 season is the world premiere of D-Pad, written by Jeremy Gable and directed by Brey Ann Barrett. The show explores the world of independent gaming through the lens of a wunderkind developer as she creates something beyond entertainment. The show will have live performances at various showtimes Fri., Nov. 27-Sun., Dec. 13. Tickets range $15-45 and be purchased here.
Her Honor Jane Byrne, J. Nicole Brooks’ play about the time Chicago’s first female mayor moved into the housing project Cabrini-Green, barely got onto the stage of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre in March when the pandemic hit. So the company partnered with WBEZ, Chicago’s National Public Radio station, to turn it into a radio play, which aired on Thanksgiving and will reair on Sat., Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. CT.
New York City’s PlayCo is partnering with a far-reaching ensemble of U.S. theatres, including D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth, Harvard’s American Repertory Theater, Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater, and Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival to present Amir Nizar Zuabi’s This Is Who I Am, directed by Evren Odcikin. Separated by continents, an estranged father and son reunite over Zoom from their respective kitchens in Ramallah and New York City. Previews air at various times Sun., Nov. 29-Fri., Dec. 4, and the play’s full run comprises various times Sun., Dec. 6-Sun., Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets start at $15.
For a sobering reminder, as we weather the worst of this pandemic and wait for help from a vaccine, that the last great pandemic never went away (and still has no vaccine): Worlds AIDS Day is still Dec. 1, and to mark the occasion, an online revival of the celebrated series of songs and monologues Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, will be streamed, starring a bevy of Broadway, television, and film favorites, is set to stream on World AIDS Day, Tues., Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. ET. The virtual production will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Created in the face of one pandemic and revived in another, Elegies features a book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Janet Hood. The show will be available through Saturday, Dec. 5.
Also for World AIDS Day, Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre, in concert with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, will stage Clarinda Ross’s play Love, M., a story about mothers, sons, and activists in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Actor and activist Lamman Rucker stars, along with Broadway icon Terry Burrell. It will be free to view here on Tues., Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET, and will feature a post-show conversation moderated by journalist Patrick L. Riley.
Tilted Frame, an improv troupe that has been producing digital comedy shows since 2002, will present its new multi-media show @Home on Tuesday evenings Dec. 1-29, 6-6:45 p.m. PT. Several of the company’s original members, including Jonathan Baumgaertner, Diana Brown, Misa Doi, and Jaimie Paulson, will assemble to virtually perform together from their respective cities across the country. Matthew Quinn will host, David Svengalis will serve as design manager, and Miles Berman will be the stream manager. Tickets are $8.
Montreal’s Talisman Theater offers two webcasts of its newly created show, Habibi’s Angels: Commission Impossible, on Wed., Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. ET and Sun., Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. ET. With staging by Sophie Gee and an all-female cast, the show tackles contemporary feminism and diversity in a bilingual creation (with subtitles). The Dec. 2 performance will be followed by a live chat with the artists. Tickets are on a sliding scale.
New York City’s Moonlight Theatre Company will debut Crossroads, Six short plays about love, pain, passion, and joy by Israela Margalit. Performances will stream Thurs., Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET and Sun., Dec. 6 at 2:30 p.m. ET (with an encore presentation Dec. 24-31). Tickets are free but donations are encouraged (and go to support Frigid New York).
Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins, Minn., is offering ’Twas the Night: Out of the Box, a “self-paced holiday viewing adventure,” featuring exclusive limited time access to a video feature performance, paired with sweets, treats, and props to interact with the show. Each box also includes access to a live story time via Zoom with Santa, directly from the North Pole! It’s $85 per box and advance reservation is required to allow time for your box to arrive; available through Jan. 1, 2021.
Broadway Across Borders announces an encore streaming of their virtual production of Spring Awakening, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Berlin and available to view for free Fri., Nov. 27-Sun., Nov. 29. Unable to safely create the show in person, it was made collaboratively and virtually over the summer by an international cast and team. It’s free but registration is required.
Like an expert soccer player, Philadelphia Theatre Company has pivoted their highly anticipated production of Sarah DeLappe’s already classic 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Wolves into a virtual, streaming production. Directed by Nell Bang-Jensen, the show is being offered to stream on a pay-what-you-can basis. Audiences can access the play for two-day virtual “rentals” through a dedicated streaming link, Fri., Nov. 27-Sun., Dec. 20.
For family viewers, Chicago’s Eleanor Management is offering on online version of Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish—The Musical, which had its world premiere last year. The story of a rag doll named Eleanor who lives in the magical world of the North Pole, it’s based on the book of the same name by Chicagoan Denise McGowan Tracy, and is available to stream Fri., Nov. 27-Sun., Dec. 27 for $25 per household.
WaterTower Theatre in Addison, Texas, is offering a new holiday concert Ella’s Swinging Christmas, A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, with Feleceia Wilson performing 17 of Fitzgerald’s iconic arrangements of Christmas classics, as well as other hits. The show is available on demand Fri., Nov. 27-Sun., Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets are $16 for single viewers or $26 for a multiple viewers (family style).
Jefferson Mays’s one-man rendition of A Christmas Carol made a splash at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse two years ago, and now he’s returning to the Dickens classic for a virtual presentation to benefit community, amateur, and regional theatres all over the U.S. Directed by Michael Arden, Mays’ Carol (which he adapted with Arden and Susan Lyons, in a production conceived by Arden and Dane Laffrey) was filmed at New York’s United Palace. The production begins streaming on Sat., Nov. 28 and is available through Sun., Jan. 3, 2021. Tickets are $57.50.
The next offering of the national theatre podcast Playing on Air will be Andrew Massey’s comedy The Thompsons, about the families we love, break, and remake. Featuring William Jackson Harper, Sue Jean Kim, April Matthis, and Amy Ryan, and directed by Arin Arbus, it will be available for free via all podcast apps as well as the Playing on Air website beginning the morning of Sun., November 29.
Meanwhile, bringing its beloved production of A Christmas Carol to your ears only is Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, whose audio play version—adapted by Tom Creamer and further adapted for audio by Neena Arndt, Jessica Thebus, and Richard Woodbury, and directed by Thebus—will again feature the theatre’s beloved Scrooge, Larry Yando. It’s streaming free Tues., Dec. 1-Thurs., Dec. 31.
New York City’s La Femme Theatre Productions will present a recorded reading of Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana, directed by Emily Mann, as a benefit for the Actors Fund. The on-demand offering stars Dylan McDermott, Phylicia Rashad, Roberta Maxwell, Austin Pendleton, and Jean Lichty, and will stream Wed., Dec. 2-Sun., Dec. 6. Tickets range $10-250.
Portland, Ore.-based Profile Theatre continues its virtual season with an audio play of the early Lynn Nottage play Las Meninas (published in the July 2001 edition of American Theatre, if we may say so). Set in the court of Louis XIV, it tells the “probably true story” of the Spanish Queen Marie-Thérèse and her affair with Nabo Sensugali, a little person from Dahomey. Directed by Dawn Monique Williams and featuring New York City-based actor Rance Nix as Nabo, it will be available to stream Wed., Dec. 2-Tues., Jan. 5, 2021 for Profile Theatre members. Season memberships, which run $150, unlock Profile’s entire 2020-21 season, with plays by Nottage, Paual Vogel, and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse is offering its next Digital Without Walls (WOW) production, You Are Here: A Homebound Travelogue, a new Playhouse-commissioned piece by renowned immersive artist Marike Splint. You Are Here invited patrons on a road trip around the world via Google Earth, delivering a documentary-style production that took its viewers down forgotten roads of personal geographies, the back alleys of memory, and the highways to wished-upon places. The piece is available to stream through Thurs., Dec. 31 on a pay-what-you-wish basis.
American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., is taking its annual family holiday show virtual with Jack and the Beanstalk: A Musical Adventure, an original Zoom musical for kids aged 4 and up that takes us on an epic journey through Storyland. Written by Julia Riew and Ian Chanfor and directed by Rebecca Aparicio, it’s available on demand through Mon., Jan. 4, 2021. Household tickets are $20 with a pay-what-you-can option.
Los Angeles-based New Musicals Inc. is offering a streaming presentation of Michael Gordon Shapiro’s Gideon and the Blundersnorp, a family-friendly musical adventure following stable boy Gideon and his dreams of being a knight, and featuring top stage talent from L.A. and Broadway. The show went live on Thanksgiving Day, and will stream for free through the holidays.
Brooklyn’s saucy Company XIV is offering streaming entertainment and a curated cocktail kit in time for the holiday season with their Nutcracker Rouge Cocktails & Burlesque at Home. The company has recorded eight new signature acts at Théâtre XIV that are dropping weekly, starting with Thanksgiving weekend and shimmying through New Year’s Eve. Packages start at $150.
Broadway On Demand is now offering exclusive streaming of Submissions Only, an online comedy showing viewers what really happens offstage. Following the friendship of an actress and a casting director as they try to build careers in the notoriously tricky and often absurd world of Broadway, it was co-created by Kate Wetherhead and Andrew Keenan-Bolger. The first two seasons are available for free, and Season 3 goes for just $3.99.
As part of its Keeping Live Theatre Alive! initiative, Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point, N.Y., is streaming short performances by renowned actors including Bryan Cranston, Tony Shalhoub, Dan Lauria, André De Shields, John Lithgow, Priscilla Lopez, and Laurie Metcalf. Upcoming contributors include Ed Asner, John Cullum, Christine Ebersole, Judd Hirsch, Judith Light, and Alfred Molina.
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