From Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s stage production of Fleabag, we’ve been truly spoiled with streamable culture during lockdown. Fortunately, while we eagerly await the reopening of theatres across the nation, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks.
In fact, our selection includes some truly quintessential opera, unmissable summer theatre and sell-out productions. Even better – they’re available for the fraction of the admission cost. Spend that spare change on an ice cream or two, why don’t you?
On with the show...
For a fantasy opera: The Magic Flute at the Royal Opera House
David McVicar’s exquisite 2017 production of Mozart’s celebrated opera pulls out all the stops – from the spellbinding set to exhilarating orchestral numbers that will have you air-violining on your sofa. Swiss tenor Mauro Peter makes his Royal Opera House debut as leading man Prince Tamino, who, accompanied by his trusty sidekick Papageno (award-winning British baritone Roderick Williams), promises the Queen of the Night that he will rescue her daughter, Pamina, from evil enchanter Sarastro. Expect dancing animals, flying machines and some of the most spine-tingling soprano performances in operatic history.
For a Windrush-era epic: Small Island at the National Theatre
Following a sold-out run in 2019, you don’t want to miss the National Theatre’s stage adaptation of Andrea Levy’s best-selling novel about the Windrush experience. Following the lives, hopes and dreams of Jamaican husband and wife, Gilbert and Hortense, and their English landlady, Queenie, throughout the 1940s, it’s a tumultuous epic that places the real challenges and racism faced by first-generation Jamaican immigrants front and centre. Expect impassioned speeches that obliterate the fourth wall, poignant songs and, above all, deeply moving performances that will stay with you long after the (virtual) curtain falls.
Stream Small Island on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel from 18-25 June
For summer comedy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe
Enjoying a little alfresco theatre is a must in the summer months – and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably the very best for it. While we might not be able to go to the Globe, we can still take a tablet or laptop and find a green space to enjoy the 2013 production from artistic director Dominic Droomgoole. Follow him into the fairytale forest for his energetic and anarchic take on the much-loved Shakespearean comedy. Vivid, inventive and just a little bit naughty – it’s a real crowd-pleaser.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is available to stream now via YouTube
For a socially distanced comedy: LUNGS at the Old Vic
The Old Vic have really spoiled us by uploading past performances for free on their YouTube channel, but their latest creative venture is a return to live theatre. The new ‘In Camera’ series is a run of smash hit plays performed live to an empty auditorium and streamed to up to 1,000 audience members at a time. Kicking it off is Matt Smith and Claire Foy starring in a socially distanced version of LUNGS – a hilariously honest and emotionally rendering play about a couple deciding wrestling with life’s biggest dilemmas. Tickets to this virtual theatre experience will be priced at £10-£65, with audiences asked to give what they can to support box offices.
LUNGS will be performed via Zoom from 26th June - 4th July with tickets available to purchase from 10th June from the Old Vic's website
For a feel-good musical: Reasons to be Cheerful by Graeae Theatre
There are many reasons to be cheerful about this infectious production from Graeae Theatre – the toe-tapping, punk rock filled soundtrack, for one, and Graeae’s commitment to spotlighting the talents of D/deaf and disabled actors for another. The raucus action takes place entirely in a pub and tells the tale of when Vinnie (Stephen Lloyd) and his friends tried to get tickets to an Ian Dury concert in 1979. As well as seamlessly incorporating British Sign Lanugage, the plot is energised by explosive dance numbers and a six-piece live band blasting out Ian Dury and The Blockheads tunes. It’s joyfully messy, pro-inclusivity and, above all, brilliantly performed: a must watch.
Watch Reasons to be Cheerful on Graeae Theatre’s website from 3rd June – 3rd August
For the hottest ticket in town: Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre
Are you still on the fence about whether or not to subscribe to Disney+? Well, we’ve got just the ticket to tip you over the edge. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s larger-than-large musical about Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, arrives on the streaming platform next month. This unmissable, politically provocative hip hop biography is not only an awards magnet – including 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy and a Pulitzer for Best Drama – but you’ll almost certainly have heard at least one friend call it “the best musical they’ve ever seen.” As an extra treat, this 2016 production stars the original Broadway cast, including Miranda in the title role.
Stream Hamilton on Disney+ from 3rd July
And for even more musical magic to look forward to this month, new streaming platform Broadway On Demand is expected to launch in the UK any day now.