How to watch theatre, dance, comedy and classical music online

Jessie Thompson
·6-min read
<p>The Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will livestream two new editions</p> (Isha Shah)

The Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will livestream two new editions

(Isha Shah)

We’re back in lockdown and theatres are once again closed indefinitely. It’s hardly the start to the year that we’d hoped for, but the good news is that many venues are continuing to make shows available online.

Although nothing can compare to sitting in a hushed auditorium as the lights go down, there’s more than enough on offer to keep any theatre lover occupied while we hope for brighter days. From Shakespeare to brand new musical theatre, here’s the best of what’s available to watch online.

Theatre

Inside/Outside

Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre will livestream a series of six new short plays: playwrights Deborah Bruce, Joel Tan and Joe White will focus on the theme of ‘inside’, while Sonali Bhattacharyya, Zoe Cooper and Kalungi Ssebandeke will be exploring ‘outside’. Expect big themes: loneliness, isolation, hope and despair. March 25-27 and April 15-17; orangetreetheatre.co.uk

Emilia

Saffron Coomber, Clare Perkins and Adelle Leonce in EmiliaHelen Murray
Saffron Coomber, Clare Perkins and Adelle Leonce in EmiliaHelen Murray

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s barnstorming play about the life of Emilia Bassano, said to have inspired Shakespeare’s sonnets and as well as being a poet herself, will be available to watch online again for all of March on a ‘pay what you can’ basis. March 1-31; emilialive.com

Black Matter

Olivier-award winning actor Giles Terera, who was London’s first Aaron Burr in the West End production of Hamilton, has written a song cycle about observing London from his window over the last year in lockdown. A filmed version of him performing it at Crazy Coqs will be available to stream later this month. March 24-31; fane.co.uk/giles-terera

Royal Court: Living Newspaper

The Royal Court’s initiative - to ask a group of writers to take over the Sloane Square building and create a ‘living newspaper’ based on that week’s events - kicked off at the end of last year, but changes to restrictions meant audiences could no longer attend in person. Now it returns with two forthcoming livestreamed editions, with Bukky Bakray, Travis Alabanza, Tanika Gupta, Nathaniel Martello-White and Anthony Neilson among the writers taking part. From March 29 royalcourttheatre.com

Good Grief

Is it a play? Is it a film? It’s both. Sian Clifford and Nikesh Patel star in Lorien Hayne’s study of grief, and it’s well worth watching. Until April 15, originaltheatreonline.com

BKLYN - The Musical

Missing the hustle and bustle of city life? This musical explores the stories of street performers in New York City, and has a top notch musical cast featuring Marisha Wallace and Jamie Muscato. March 22 - 4 April; stream.theatre

Barnes’ People

Michael Wharley
Michael Wharley

This set of masterful monologuesare just as good as Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, says our critic Nick Curtis, but much less well known. Get to know them with these brilliantly captured performances, starring Adrian Scarborough, Matthew Kelly, Jemma Redgrave and Jon Culshaw. Until July 31: originaltheatreonline.com

National Theatre at Home

It’s Netflix for National Theatre fans: after hugely popular weekly livestreams in the first lockdown, the NT listened to pleas from around the world and made some productions available to watch on-demand. The current selection includes Three Sisters, Amadeus, Medea and the Young Vic’s award-winning Yerma, as well as its lockdown-struck panto, Dick Whittington. Viewers can pay a monthly subscription fee for access to the whole catalogue, or rent productions individually. ntathome.com

Shakespeare’s Globe

Whether you’re in homeschooling hell or just missing the sound of iambic pentameter, Shakespeare’s Globe has a packed online catalogue of productions available to rent. From Michelle Terry as Hamlet to Gemma Arterton in The Duchess of Malfi, there’s enough here to ensure you’ll never get bard (sorry). globeplayer.tv

Musicals: The Greatest Show

An impressive set of musical theatre stars got together to perform our favourite songs for one night only, and the concert is on BBC iPlayer for the rest of the year - hurrah! Recorded at the London Palladium and hosted by Sheridan Smith, it featured all of the best belters in the business, from Michael Ball to Nicole Scherzinger. Available on BBC iPlayer

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This rehearsed reading of Shakespeare’s mad, magical comedy is set to be a special occasion, with Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall, Luisa Omielan and Sara Kestelman in its star cast. Put it in your diary – it’s for one night only. March 31; shakefestival.com

Southwark Playhouse

Throughout the recent months of the pandemic, Southwark Playhouse has punched above its weight by offering a range of live streamed productions. Its previous hit revival of musical The Last Five Years is still available to watch on-demand, and forthcoming live streams include Philip Ridley play The Poltergeist and new British musical The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda in HamiltonDisney
Lin-Manuel Miranda in HamiltonDisney

Yes, we know you know all the words. Yes, we know you’ve already watched it 100 times. But this exquisitely captured recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical theatre masterpiece is on Disney+, so why not watch it again? disneyplus.com

Classical music

Wigmore Hall

Wigmore HallPA
Wigmore HallPA

Its doors may be closed, but Wigmore Hall is keeping the music playing. A number of concerts recorded at the venue will be broadcast on its website throughout January, and will be available on-demand for 30 days thereafter. wigmore-hall.org.uk

Comedy

Soho Theatre on Demand

There’s lots of stand-up to be found on streaming platforms, but none is quite so evocative of the stand-up experience as Soho Theatre’s catalogue of shows. Directly available through Soho’s website and now also on Amazon Prime, you’ll almost feel like you really are in a dingey basement, glugging wine and trying to avoid the front row so you don’t get picked on. Jessie Cave, Dane Baptiste and Lucy Susan are just a few of the comic delights on offer. sohotheatreondemand.com or Amazon Prime

Rose Matafeo: Horndog

Provisions to fulfil our desperate need for laughter have also been made by the BBC: it will broadcast a performance of Rose Matafeo’s sell-out show Horndog. It won her the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2018, which is a recommendation and a half. BBC iPlayer

Dance

Royal Ballet

Zenaida Yanowsky as Marguerite and Roberto Bolle as Armand©Tristram Kenton
Zenaida Yanowsky as Marguerite and Roberto Bolle as Armand©Tristram Kenton

Throughout the pandemic, the Royal Ballet has broadcast its previous productions as part of the Royal Opera House’s popular #OurHouseToYourHouse programme. Up next will be Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand, performed in 2017. Zenaida Yanowsky’s performance as Marguerite was her last with the company after 23 years. From Jan 15, roh.org.uk

ENB at Home

The English National Ballet has a comprehensive on-demand platform which includes a huge catalogue of shows alongside a series of ballet training classes, keeping you both entertained and active. Productions can be rented for three days and include Akram Khan’s Giselle, Le Corsaire and La Sylphide. ondemand.ballet.org.uk

Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage

Alongside performances, workshops and dance classes, there’s the chance to do a deep dive into esteemed choreographers such as Kate Prince and Hofesh Schecter on Sadler’s Wells’ website. Videos will take you through their techniques and the thinking behind their shows. sadlerswells.com

Opera

Royal Opera House

Joyce DiDonato as CendrillonBill Cooper / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL
Joyce DiDonato as CendrillonBill Cooper / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

Alongside regular ballet broadcasts, the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse programme offers the chance to see a past opera production. Next up will be Joyce DiDonato in Massenet’s playful operatic take on Cinderella, Cendrillon. From Jan 22; roh.org.uk

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