Missing live theatre? Stream these eight old favourite plays and musicals this autumn.

As most theatres remain indefinitely shut in this age of coronavirus, discover the best streaming shows and platforms to get your thespian fix. London’s West End and New York’s Broadway have rifled through their archives to release old favourite plays, alongside some new productions, online. Revel in the incredible sets, costumes and legendary performances, which you can now often access free digitally. While you can’t support theatre in person at the moment, you can do the next best thing: watch these superlative performances in the comfort of your own sitting room.

The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster


The Globe Player


When government advice stops you physically getting to the theatre, browse the net for your culture hit. The Globe Player is renting online full productions, including Sam Wanamaker’s Playhouse’s opening production, The Duchess of Malfi, starring Hollywood star Gemma Arterton. She plays the title role in John Webster’s 1612 tragedy about a doomed love affair between a Duchess and one of her servants. Renting via the Globe Player allows you access to stream the video online for seven days. You can also rent Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.


The Twits, Roald Dahl


The Unicorn Theatre


Online until 30 November
Remember the gruesome twosome? And their monstrous practical jokes? And the magnificent Roly-Poly Bird? Children, and grown-ups alike can now watch online the unabridged theatrical reading of The Twits, filmed at the Unicorn Theatre in London. Directed by Ned Bennett and performed by storytellers Martina Laird and Zubin Varla, this three-part-series of the classic tale is available to watch on YouTube until 30 November. As part of Unicorn Online, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Unicorn Theatre is offering online theatrical experiences aimed at children.


As You Like It, William Shakespeare


Southbank Centre/ Marquee TV


Until 30 December
The online stage streaming service Marquee TV (currently offering a 14-day free trial) is now partnering with the London Philharmonic Orchestra to produce some of the first shows staged at the Southbank Centre since lockdown. The site is showing a selection of Royal Shakespeare Company plays including As You Like It, Richard II and Antony and Cleopatra. ‘It is Marquee TV’s core mission to offer arts organisations a global, digital platform that connects their performances with audiences worldwide. This historic moment has made a live-digital model like ours a necessity for the continued development and growth of the creative sector and our much-loved arts venues, companies and performers,’ says CEO and co-founder Simon Walker.


Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda


Disney Plus


Couldn’t get seats for the hottest musical in the world right now? No problem. You can now nab yourselves the best seats in the house (your own sofa) to watch Hamilton. Tune in online to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal, Pulitzer prize-winning musical about the ’10-dollar founding father without a father’. The original Broadway show had been scheduled for a 2021 cinema release but due to Covid, was fast-tracked to the Disney+ streaming service.


The Red Shoes from Home, Matthew Bourne


YouTube


When Matthew Bourne’s dance production UK tour was cancelled because of coronavirus, the cast recorded the dance production in their own sitting rooms and gardens. The result is a 12-minute isolated performance. ‘Although its creation came out of a sad loss for the show being unable to complete its tour of the UK, it was important to the company that we celebrated and created a lasting piece that would exist in its own right, out of lockdown,’ said Bourne. ‘Whilst putting it together, we didn’t restrict to it being any particular length, as we really wanted to capture all of the passion, talent, humour and personalities that make New Adventures so unique.’


Oscar Wilde Season


West End/ Marquee TV


This autumn, wind back in time and embrace the old classics. From the comfort of your sitting room, you can now stream four great Victorian plays in Classic Spring’s Oscar Wilde season in the West End. On offer online is An Ideal Husband (starring Edward and Freddie Fox), Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest and A Woman of No Importance. Catch these golden oldies via the online service Marquee TV, which currently offers a 14-day free trial.

The Wind in the Willows the Musical, Julian Fellowes


willowsmusical.com


Did you miss The Wind in the Willows the Musical when it was streamed during lockdown? Not to worry, you can now rent it online and stream the film at a time that suits you in your own sitting room. Watch Julian Fellows, George Stiles and Anthony Drew in the new version of Kenneth Grahame’s show, filmed at the London Palladium in 2017. Rufus Hound is Mr Toad. You can rent it online for just £4.99 and while you’re at it, you can donate to help provide emotional and financial support to theatre workers.


The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd-Webber


Amazon


Probably one of the world’s most successful and longest-standing musicals, The Phantom of the Opera is now available to rent on Amazon. Ramin Karimloo plays the Phantom and Sierra Boggess is Christine. Earlier in the year, The Royal Albert Hall production had been streamed online free, as part of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s series The Show Must Go On. Andrew, who has worked on twenty-one musicals and been in the theatre industry for fifty years, is unsure if the West End will recover from these unprecedented times, unless the government offers help.

Annabel Jack
October 2020

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Annabel Jack

Contributing Editor

Annabel is a regular contributor to The GWG, with a taste for finest in food, fashion and interiors.

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