Theater queens, we feel your pain. But we’ve also got good news: Right now, even while you’re self-quarantined, you can enjoy the best shows and stars ever to hit the boards thanks to streaming live performances and live-from-isolation videos.
Musicals, dramas, dance, experimental theater, and opera can be savored through platforms like Broadway HD and Marquee TV—both of which offer extended free trials—and, on a mostly rental and purchase basis, Amazon. Bonus: All of them have iOS and Apple TV apps.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. OntheBoardsTV is offering its edgy and avant-garde fare for free through the end of April. The nonprofit Broadway Sings for Pride, which raises funds for LGBTQ organizations like the Hetrick-Martin Institute through its concerts, is sharing an unreleased performance daily until April 11 on its Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. (Check out Aladdin’s Telly Leung and NewNowNext’s own Michael Musto on Monday, March 30.)
Ticket holders for select canceled performances around the country—like Arlington, Virginia’s Signature Theatre production of Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes—will instead be able to stream them over the coming weeks. And Broadway stars like Todd Buonopane and Seth Rudetsky are turning their quarantine into a stage.
Meanwhile, piano bar queens itching to belt out a showtune or 10 can join a nightly live-streamed sing-a-long hosted by NYC’s beloved Marie’s Crisis through their private Facebook group, Maries Group—and yes, the pianist takes requests! Just don’t forget to drop a tip into the staff’s Venmo accounts.
Okay, we know this can be overwhelming for even the most die-hard show-mo. So to get you started, here are our picks for what to stream, from the 2016 revival of the gay musical Falsettos (starring Andrew Rannells!) to the original stage version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Because they’re now, forever, and inescapable, henny.
Andrew Rannells and Christian Borle led the 2016 revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s Tony-winning 1992 musical about a gay couple and their unconventional, completely neurotic family. Taking place between 1979 and 1981, at the ominous onset of AIDS, the show will make you laugh, cry, and stan for the Ran. (Broadway HD; $8.99 per month or $99.99 per year with a seven-day free trial)
If you need a dose of upbeat “we’re in this together” inspiration decked out in fierce drag lewks, Harvey Fierstein, Cyndi Lauper, and director Jerry Mitchell’s hit musical will do the trick! Billy Porter, who originated the role of drag queen Lola on Broadway, isn’t in this filmed version (shot in 2018 during the show’s London West End run starring The Voice U.K. finalist and Olivier winner Matt Henry), but it has all the glitter, heart, and heels you need right now. (Broadway HD)
After dreaming about playing the role for years, Bette Midler finally got to star as Rose in this 1993 TV movie adaptation of the classic Broadway musical about a stage mother and the two reluctant daughters she attempts to push into the biz. This version’s dream cast also includes Christine Ebersole, Andrea Martin, Tony Shalhoub, and late, great, gay Tony and Emmy winner Michael Jeter. (Broadway HD)
You get all of the Jellicles but none of the creepy, bulge-erasing CGI in this specially restaged and choreographed version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s T.S. Eliot–inspired romp. Shot in 1997 at London’s Adelphi Theatre, it features cast members from several international productions, including Broadway’s Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy, the West End’s Elaine Paige as Grizabella, and Sydney’s Jason Gardiner as Alonzo. You can even watch it sober! (Broadway HD)
The Best of Oscar Wilde
The U.K.-based Classic Spring Theatre Company is celebrating Oscar Wilde Season (shouldn’t it always be, though?) with four of the queer Irish wit’s best plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and Lady Windermere’s Fan. BYO absinthe. (Marquee TV; $8.99 per month or $69.99 per year with a 30-day free trial)
Alexander Ekman’s A Swan Lake
While Matthew Bourne’s all-male, queer AF Swan Lake isn’t streaming anywhere yet (it wrapped a tour in NYC last month), Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s theatrical, thoroughly reimagined contemporary version of the Tchaikovsky classic—filmed at Norway’s Oslo Opera House—incorporates comedy, camp, queerness, near-naked men, a water-filled stage, and 1,000 rubber ducks. Sold! (Marquee TV)
Voted 2006’s “Sexiest Man in the Universe” by the U.K.’s Pink Paper, former Doctor Who star David Tennant headed up the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2013 production of the Bard’s play, which was filmed live and screened in movie theaters that year. This version underscores its homoerotic subtext with a big gay smooch between Richard and Aumerle (Oliver Rix). (Marquee TV)
George Orwell’s 1984 might seem redundant now that we’re living it, but this visually stunning 2015 take from Northern Ballet, the U.K.’s “foremost narrative ballet company,” and choreographer Jonathan Watkins is still worth your time. (Marquee TV)
Sir Elton John and Stephen Daldry are two of the gay talents behind the smash-hit musical, captured live during a very special performance at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre in 2014. In this version, Elliott Hanna plays Billy and Zach Atkinson is his scene-stealing gay friend Michael—their jubilant cross-dressing number, “Expressing Yourself,” gives us life!—while the finale features 25 current and former Billys from around the world. (Amazon; rental and purchase prices vary)
If you missed Broadway’s 12-year run of the late Jonathan Larson’s reimagining of La Bohème—about queers and bohemians living and loving in 1989 NYC—this 2008 film of its final performance (which also screened in movie theaters) is like snagging a front-row seat. Even better than a Marvel post-credits tag, the curtain call includes a “Seasons of Love” reprise with the original cast, including Anthony Rapp. (Amazon)
Into the Woods
Sure, we love Disney’s big-budget 2014 movie adaptation, but Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s original 1987 Broadway production with Bernadette Peters as the Witch (who else, hunty?), Chip Zien as the Baker, and Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife still takes the cake. Check out this 1989 taping for PBS’ American Playhouse—and while you’re at it, read this Playbill gem, in which the original cast spills tea about the show’s run. (Amazon)
John Waters’ 1960s-set comedy about Tracy Turnblad, a chubby girl who dreams of becoming a star on a local dance TV show while fighting against segregation, is the gift that keeps on giving. A 1988 movie! A 2002 Broadway musical! A 2007 movie musical! And NBC’s 2016 live television special, which featured Harvey Fierstein reprising his Tony-winning role as Tracy’s mom, Edna, plus Darren Criss, Sean Hayes, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Rosie O’Donnell, Kristin Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, Paul Vogt, and Billy Eichner. (Amazon)
Main image: Andrew Rannells and Christian Borle in Falsettos.