The best theatre to stream this month: Billie Holiday’s blues, McKellen’s Lear and Newsies

<span>Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

Broadway stage sensation Audra McDonald – the winner of more Tony awards than any other performer – flew into London’s West End for one night only at the Palladium in September, singing her own selections from “the great American songbook”. That concert has been filmed for future distribution – and happily there’s already a film of her superb performance as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s musical play Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, seen in London in 2017 and recorded at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans. Available from BroadwayHD.


Maimuna Memon was the talk of the Edinburgh fringe this summer with her award-winning show Manic Street Creature, intimately staged as part of Paines Plough’s Roundabout season. Here’s one she made earlier: another piece of gig-theatre probing mental health issues, it has music and lyrics by Memon and a script by James Meteyard. Electrolyte is presented by subscription service LIVR in 360-degree VR.


It’s taken 10 years for this Tony award-winning Broadway musical to reach the UK; an in-the-round production opens at the Troubadour in London in November. A tale of publishing, protest and passion – with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman and book by Harvey Fierstein – it revolves around a gang of newspaper hawkers in New York. This staging was filmed in Hollywood with original cast members including Jeremy Jordan. On Prime Video.

Dance Umbrella

London’s essential international dance festival went online in 2020 with a lineup of short films and talks that are still available in its archive. Under new artistic director Freddie Opoku-Addaie, the 2022 edition of the festival also boasts a wide-ranging digital programme with the option to buy a pay-what-you-can pass to watch the whole lot. Highlights include a pair of films by the brilliant Belfast choreographer Oona Doherty. Available 7-31 October.

Francesco Gabriele Frola and Ida Praetorius in Nureyev: Legend and Legacy.
Francesco Gabriele Frola and Ida Praetorius in Nureyev: Legend and Legacy. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Nureyev: Legend and Legacy

Natalia Osipova, Francesca Hayward and Cesar Corrales were among the extraordinary lineup for this gala in honour of Rudolf Nureyev, introduced by Ralph Fiennes and staged at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London in September. A collection of extracts from ballets connected to the revered dancer, it left the stage “ready to pop with all the fizz” wrote our own Sanjoy Roy. Available from Marquee TV.

The New Gospel

One of European theatre’s most vital and radical talents, director Milo Rau has a new book about the social impact of theatre and the new season at NTGent, which he has run for five years, includes his collaboration with author Édouard Louis on The Interrogation. Released last year, and still available online (with English subtitles), The New Gospel is his dramatisation of the crucifixion story, filmed in Matera in southern Italy, whose local life is also documented as an essential part of the drama.


A dizzyingly ambitious, weeklong drama unfolding in real time through live-streamed performance, TV and on social media, Galwad (part of the Unboxed festival) culminates on 2 October with a four-hour Sky Arts special. The broadcast offers a chance to catch up on the story, which follows the journey of teenager Efa who believes she has swapped with her future self, 30 years from now, and travels from Swansea to Blaenau Ffestiniog in north Wales, where the final live stream takes place.


After all the industry talk during lockdown about the importance of reaching new audiences online, the Orange Tree deserves recognition as the only major London theatre that consistently streams new productions. They are usually made available online just after the stage run has ended. The latest is Dael Orlandersmith’s Pulitzer-nominated two-hander Yellowman. Available 11-14 October.

King Lear

Recently added to the vast NT at Home archive is Chichester Festival theatre’s 2017 production of King Lear, starring Ian McKellen and directed by Jonathan Munby. Returning to the role almost 10 years after he took it on for the Royal Shakespeare Company – and more than 40 after playing Edgar in the tragedy – McKellen gave what Michael Billington called “a superbly detailed performance, a permanent closeup of a soul in torment”.

Mrs Wickham

Audible, best known for audiobooks and podcasts, has released a set of new theatrical offerings including versions of Ali Stroker and Amber Iman’s one-woman stage shows and Cush Jumbo performing her own script Gilly Gilly, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Playwright Sarah Page’s Mrs Wickham, a spin on Pride and Prejudice, stars Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn. Page calls it a “romantic, optimistic and seductive comedy” that reminds us to “treat each other with kindness”.