Stephen Radosh: How to Cure Theatre Withdrawal

The King and I

Here we are in May and still being asked to keep ‘Social Distance’ (a good idea while seeming to be a total oxymoron to me).  It’s been 2 months since I last attended a show and, if you’re like me, that feels like an eternity, especially when you are used to going as often as 3 times a week.  So other than listening to the Broadway Channel on SiriusXM, what’s a theatre addict to do? 

Well happily there are some alternatives.  They’re not the same as sharing that live, in-person experience with a theatre full of people being magically transported to another place and, often, time.  But under the circumstances, they are a pretty good alternative.  In fact, the choices are too many to mention all of them here but at least this will give you a good start in getting that much needed theatre fix.

Stars in the HouseFor those who lean towards musical theatre try Seth Rudetsky’s STARS IN THE HOUSE. Seth, a popular host on SiriusXM’s Broadway channel and a gifted musician along with his husband, producer James Wesley, have created a wonderful daily live-streamed series to support The Actors Fund and its services. It’s free but donations to the Actor’s Fund will be gratefully accepted. Every day, they bring together various stars of the theatre for a fun and entertaining podcast complete with personal anecdotes, musical performances and some good dishy gossip.  You can find these podcasts at https://www.starsinthehouse.com.  While you’re there, check out their sister podcast, PLAYS IN THE HOUSE where on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11:00 AM Pacific Time, a different play is presented in a live reading, often with most, if not all, of the original or a recent revival cast. Of course the assemblage is a virtual one achieved through ZOOM, as all the participants are broadcasting from their own homes.

Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago will be streaming their production of the 5 time Tony winning musical FUN HOME from May 12-24. Fun Home is a groundbreaking story inspired by Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir. In this intimate musical, Alison sets out to unravel the many mysteries of her childhood through a series of memories and conversations – from her coming out to her moving journey to acceptance.  This touching and often funny musical is something special.  There is a fee of $20 to stream this show but hey, it’s a lot cheaper than the $150 you’d pay to see it in person!  Check it out at Victorygardens.org

Starting tonight (Friday May 8, 2020) at 8PM and available for 48 hours, Lincoln Center Theatre will be having a free streaming of their Tony-winning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I (2015), directed by Bartlett Sher and starring Kelli O’Hara, Ken Watanabe, and Ruthie Ann Miles!  Even if you’ve seen THE KING & I before, this is a really strong production of the show with an amazing performance by Ms. O’Hara and worth the visit.  And for free, what have you got to lose?  Check out Lincoln Center Theatre’s other shows as well at www.LCT.Org.

Broadway HD has several wonderful productions available for streaming including one of my personal favorite shows, SHE LOVES ME, starring Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, and Gavin Creel.  It is one of the most charming, romantic and funny musicals and was the first musical to ever be streamed live to theatres all over the world.  Jane Krakowski is hilarious as Ilona and Laura Benanti, in the role originated by Barbara Cook, has the voice of an angel and is not too shabby in the comedic acting department either.  There is a one week free trial available now.  Check it out at www.BroadwayHD.com.

If your tastes run more in the classical vein, take a look at what’s available at the National Theatre in London.  They are currently streaming (for free) ANTONY & CLEOPATRA starring Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo and FRANKENSTEIN starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  Find them and other shows on their Youtube channel [here].

Well that should hold you for a while.  But if you still want more, do some surfing on the web and you’ll be amazed at how much good theatre there is available right in your own living room. You can even munch on your favorite snacks and have a cocktail while you’re watching!  Ooops…. Got to run, the popcorn is burning!  See you all again soon.