The Best Virtual Theatre Shows to Watch Now
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Though theatres remain closed for the foreseeable, play lovers need not despair – there is a plethora of world-class shows streaming online for your entertainment and virtual viewing pleasure.
Where to Watch the Best Virtual Theatre Online
Swan Lake Bath Ballet
While stages are off limits, ballet dancers have taken to performing elsewhere – including in the bath. Corey Baker Dance’s new short film entitled Swan Lake Bath Ballet sees 27 world-class ballet dancers from around the world performing a modern-day Swan Lake from their own home filled bathtubs. Baker – a chorographer in residence at the Royal New Zealand Ballet – put the whole thing together remotely, with dancers filming their performances on their phones. The film was created as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine programme, a virtual outlet created during lockdown. Watch on BBC iPlayer.
Lawrence Batley Theatre
Following a hugely successful West End run last year, Nigel Slaters’s Toast returns to the Lawrence Batley Theatre as a brand-new online play this July. Based on Slater’s award-winning biography, the play recreates his childhood through the tastes and smells he shares with his mother, culminating in his young escape to London. Giles Cooper, a close friend of Nigel’s who starred in the original play, will be reprising his role alongside Lizzie Muncey, Stephen Ventura, Marie Lawrence and Jake Ferretti.
Now Showing: Toast is available to watch from 1-31 July
Grange Park Opera, Surrey
Since being founded in 1998, Grange Park Opera has established itself as an integral part of the British summer season. And while we sadly won’t be able to enjoy its delights in person this year, founder Wasfi Kani has devised a season of entirely new content for us to watch from home. The Found Season consists of 15 performances free to view online, running from six weeks from 4-12 July, featuring over 70 of the world’s leading singers, muscians and dancers.
Thanks to the Globe Player, the iconic theatre’s free YouTube channel, you needn’t leave the sofa to get your Shakespeare fix. The Globe will be screening some of the Bard’s best-loved works, to change every fortnight.
Now Showing: The 2020 production of Macbeth
Donate to to safeguard the Globe’s future here
The National Theatre
Though the National Theatre will remain closed until June 30, live performances of popular shows will be streaming weekly on the theatre’s YouTube channel as part of the National Theatre at Home initiative. What’s more, educational institutions such as schools, universities and libraries can access the National Theatre Collection online, showing everything from classic Shakespearean dramas to avant-garde productions from the Donmar Warehouse and Bridge Theatre.
Now Showing: Les Blancs, a powerful story of hope and tragedy in a revolution, penned by pioneering 1960s Reneaissance woman Lorraine Hansberry.
You can support the National Theatre through its closure by making a donation here.
If you missed out on those coveted Fleabag tickets, now’s your chance to see Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s astonishing one-woman show on screen. It is available to screen now through Soho Theatre on Demand with a range of payment option. Proceeds will go directly to charities supporting those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the National Emergency Trust and the newly set up Fleabag Support Fund, for UK-based freelancers in the theatre industry. We propose rounding off the experience by re-watching both seasons of Fleabag in quick succession.
If one Shakespeare play every two weeks isn’t cutting it, you can stream 17 more – including Othello, King Lear and Anthony & Cleopatra – Royal Shakespeare Company productions through Marquee TV. The streaming platform is currently offering viewers a free 30-day trial, hopefully enough to get theatre fans through the lockdown with their sanity intact. BBC Four is also has a number of RSC productions available to view now.
Now Showing: BBC Four’s Culture in Quarantine programme currently has a number of RSC productions available to stream on iPlayer, including Romeo & Juliet and the 2018 production of Macbeth, starring former Doctor Christopher Eccleston.
You can support the RSC through the company’s closure by making a donation here
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go On!
In an announcement to delight musical theatre lovers worldwide, Andrew Lloyd Weber – the mind behind some of the world’s best-known musicals, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera amongst them, Andrew Lloyd Webber has said that some of his most famous shows will be streaming in full on YouTube. The free screenings will be available for 48 hours, before being replaced by a new musical. Past shows include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar, with many more in the works; so settle in and prepare to sing along.
Next Showing: Hairspray
The Royal Opera House
While not strictly theatre, it’s nonetheless thrilling news that the Royal Opera House will be bringing a selection of spectacular past operas and ballets to our screens. The ROH’s YouTube channel is hosting weekly screenings of world-class performances, with the full schedule available on the ROH website.
The New York City Ballet
One of the (admittedly very few) perks of the current crisis is that we can now access world-class performances from cultural institutions around the world. For those who have never had the pleasure of visiting, The New York City Ballet is kindly streaming historical recordings of some of its most iconic performances.
Now Showing: All Balanchine Programme: a breathtaking compilation of highlights from the ballet master’s landmark works – unmissable for fans of classical dance.
Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation
A digital theatre initiative by BBC Arts, Unprecedented will showcase a series of new digital plays written in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The new plays explore community experiences and the changes the pandemic has wrought on education, work, family, relationships and culture in general. A starry cast list has already been announced, and the plays are set to be broadcast in May as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine programme.