Where To Watch Stage Plays, Musicals: 18 Apps, Channels, And Websites For Theatre Lovers
Looking for a Netflix-like application for Broadway and West End's best productions? BroadwayHD, an on-demand digital streaming media company, gives us front row seats to some of the best hit musicals, straight plays, Shakespeare, documentaries and revues. Based in New York City, the company was founded by Tony Award-winning producers Stewart F Lane and Bonnie Comley, who were motivated by the growing clamour for these masterpieces from abroad. Titles on BroadwayHD change every month but there are also some that stay longer, depending on the agreement with the producers. The company has partnered with leading theatre companies like Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, to name a few, to digitally film and distribute their productions.
2/18 National Theatre At Home
United Kingdom's premier theatre company and performing arts school has been filming its star billed productions of the world's finest literary pieces ever since and with just one tap, you can easily access them with the application National Theatre At Home. Check out and be swept away with "unforgettable British theatre" from National Theatre UK with available titles regularly changing each month. To top it off, be in awe with leading British actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, and Vanessa Kirby, to name a few, who exhibit their acting prowess on stage from time to time.
3/18 Met Opera On Demand
The Metropolitan Opera is among the world's most sought-after opera houses. With its superb productions and impeccable roster of artists, musicians, choreographers, and more, The Met has raised the bar for theatre and opera. From its humble beginnings in 1883, The Met has grown to an institution that it is today that catapulted the careers of opera legends and even premiered some of the most important pieces in the modern opera era. Since December 2006, The Met has been transmitting live in high definition its select performances in cinemas across the world through the program, The Met: Live in HD. Subscribe on the Met Opera On Demand app and watch these performances and other extras like behind-the-scenes and interviews at home and while on-the-go. Meanwhile, The Met also made available these performances for free and for one night only streaming on their website. Check out regularly their website to see the full schedule of the Nightly Opera Stream programme.
Visit metopera.org/season/on-demand to access all archival footages and check also the website's Night Opera Streams for free videos available for one night only
4/18 Digital Concert Hall
The Berliner Philharmoniker is one of the most distinguished orchestras in the world. Based in Germany, the orchestra was founded in 1882 and since then been lauded with awards and recognition for performing most of the world's finest music compositions. With its performances captured in their entirety by experienced directors and sound engineers, the virtual experience provided at the digital concert hall is as thrilling as it is live.
Although there are video-on-demand streaming platforms dedicated to theatre, opera, and orchestra as mentioned above, the streaming giants Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime Video also are not short of such content. Just recently, Netflix premiered new films like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which is an adaptation of the 1982 play by August Wilson. Musical films like Dreamgirls, Mamma Mia!, and the recently released The Prom are also available to watch on Netflix. Moreover, Broadway fans are waiting for the world premiere of Diana: A True Musical Story, which opening night at the Longacre Theatre was postponed last year. The much-awaited new musical was filmed instead and set to be launched on the streaming app before it opens house in May 2021.
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Subscribing to streaming platforms may be heavy on the budget for many but there is also a long list of theatre companies and other performing arts institutions that offer archival footage of past performances as well as original theatre content made for web on their respective YouTube channels—all for the benefit of displaced workers in the theatre industry.
5/18 Dulaang UP
The University of the Philippines' premier theatre company, Dulaang UP, has been offering archival content since quarantine measures in the capital forced theatres and schools to physically close. Check out their YouTube page and see full-length performances of Floy Quintos' Ang Nawalang Kapatid, the critically acclaimed The Kundiman Party, and Tim Dacanay's riveting historical fiction play Teatro Porvenir, among others.
Check Dulaang UP's YouTube channel here
6/18 Tanghalang Ateneo
Tanghalang Ateneo, the longest-running theatre company of Ateneo de Manila University, is also one of the country's leading school-based theatre companies. Just recently made available on their YouTube channel are Gerald P. Manuel and Sabrina Basilio's local adaptation of the Aristophanes classic, Lysistrata ng Bakwit; Rene O. Villanueva's Kalantiaw; and Peter Zaragoza Mayshle's Dolorosa, which debuted at the 2018 Virgin Labfest staged readings.
Check Tanghalang Ateneo's YouTube channel here
7/18 Teatro Tomasino Alumni Association
Just last year, the alumni members of University of Santo Tomas' premier theatre company, Teatro Tomasino, joined hands again for a unique theatre project made for the web. To translate George A. De Jesus III's beloved play Kung Paano Maghiwalay to a digital series for Facebook, Teatro Tomasino Alumni Association maximised the Zoom platform together with honorary members and guest stars like the siblings Arjo and Ria Atayde.
Check Teatro Tomasino Alumni Association's Facebook channel here
8/18 Ballet Manila Official
After braving the rest of their performance season in 2019 after the fire that damaged their theatre-home, Ballet Manila was ready to perform again with heads held high in 2020 and began shows at the Resorts World Manila. Unfortunately, the pandemic happened and changed everybody in the ballet industry's plans completely. Despite all this, the classical ballet institution and dance company helmed by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, the country's "prima ballerina", strived to do the best they could for their silver anniversary milestone year. They have uploaded their past performances on their YouTube channel for a limited time period only and continued conducting ballet classes for young kids online. With their frequent collaborator Martin Lawrence, the company released a unique digital offering entitled, Home; and with their very own principal dancer and choreographer-director Gerardo Francisco Jr., Walang Hanggang Paalam; both available on their YouTube channel.
Check Ballet Manila's YouTube channel here
9/18 Philippine Educational Theater Association
One of the finest theatre institutions in the country also shifted online its series of performances and events. Recently, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) released for a limited time period only one of its well-known musicals, Care Divas on ktx.ph, another streaming platform that is pay-per-view. Meanwhile, on their YouTube channel, PETA launched the Festival of Windows, a three-month-long online arts festival of pocket performances, workshops, lectures, and other creative expressions. Still on their page are full performances of Ron Capinding's William, Liza Magtoto's Rated PG, and Game of Trolls.
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Check PETA's YouTube channel here
10/18 Cultural Center of the Philippines
The country's leading artistic and cultural institution was one of the first who immediately maximised digital media in 2020. Starting off with its virtual Virgin Labfest and Cinemalaya, the Cultural Centre of the Philippines proved that the pandemic won't stop its resident companies from offering "food for the soul" for the Filipino people. On its YouTube channel, archival footages of previous performances and events may be watched for a limited time period only, as well as unique digital performances via Zoom by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
Check CCP's YouTube channel here
11/18 Tanghalang Pilipino
Another CCP's resident company, Tanghalang Pilipino, also offered its past performances online for free last year on YouTube and on iWant, a pay-per-view streaming app under the media giant ABS-CBN. On their YouTube channel, find unique performances by the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Ensemble and a special series of Layeta Bucoy, featuring artists like Nora Aunor, Noel Comia Jr., and Tanghalang Pilipino's very own artistic director Nanding Josef.
Check Tanghalang Pilipino's YouTube channel here
12/18 Philippine Ballet Theatre
Performing the country's classical ballet pieces as well as other important and beloved international choreographies is the Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT), another resident company of the CCP. Founded in 1986 after the downfall of the Marcos regime by National Artist Leonor Orosa Goquinco and her fellows, PBT has performed Filipino heritage masterpieces like the acclaimed Darangen ni Batugan and Kundiman, among many others. It has brought to the forefront the extraordinary talent of Filipino artists and choreographers and since then been supportive of the many talented budding Filipino ballet dancers.
Check Philippine Ballet Theatre's YouTube channel here
13/18 Philippine Madrigal Singers
One of the country's pride, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, is also one of the resident companies of the CCP. From its humble beginnings at the University of the Philippines with the National Artist Andrea O. Veneracion, the acclaimed choir has earned top prizes from international choir competitions and considered as one of the leading choral groups in the world.
Check Philippine Madrigal Singers' YouTube channel here
14/18 Trumpets Inc.
Trumpets Inc is one of the well-known theatre companies in the Philippines that has brought us original Filipino contemporary musicals like Joseph The Dreamer and The Bluebird of Happiness. On their YouTube channel, find Freddie Santos' beloved works such as Sabel: Love and Passion, So, David!, Unsung, and Dati Akong Paraluman.
Check Trumpets Philippines' YouTube channel here
15/18 Repertory Philippines
Repertory Philippines, one of the country's most awarded theatre companies that have brought us local adaptations of acclaimed plays and musicals, has been in the industry for more than 50 years now. Though the crisis abruptly halted its performance season last 2020, Rep has offered virtual workshops for theatre arts enthusiasts. Check out their YouTube channel and Facebook page for their special conversation videos with their actors and friends.
Check Repertory Philippines' YouTube channel here
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Moreover, YouTube has tons of other exciting channels and playlists created by internationally acclaimed theatre and music institutions. Mostly fundraisers for the benefit of displaced artists and workers in the theatre industry, check out: The Shows Must Go On, London Symphony Orchestra's YouTube Sundays playlist, Globe Theatre's Shakespeare for Free, Barn Theatre's free full performances, Disney Parks' Disney Cruise Line playlist, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Royal Opera House, Academy of Ancient Music's Streaming Sundays series, Opera Live Streaming, and Warner Classics' Opera, Concerts & Ballet.
Check out Tatler Review and read our reviews of plays, films, exhibitions, and more here
16/18 Ballet Philippines
Just last year, Ballet Philippines revamped its website to address the crisis, offering archival footages of its past performances for free as well as masterclasses from some of the world's most sought after ballet dancers and choreographers. Founded in 1969 by National Artist Alice Reyes, Ballet Philippines is the first resident company of the CCP and the country's leading professional classical and contemporary dance institution.
The prestigious Old Vic Theatre in London has also upped its game last year, by offering live streaming of their plays via Zoom. The actors had their performances on stage (health and safety protocols were observed) captured by cameras that are connected to audiences globally.
Visit oldvictheatre.com to avail tickets to their streamings via Zoom
Produced by Teatro ni Juan, Bakunawa Rising is an original Filipino musical made for web that is based on the Filipino myth about bakunawa (a moon-eating serpent-like dragon). Teatro ni Juan weaves tragic narratives of modern-day Philippines into the myth and explores themes of redemption and salvation. It is a must-see original Filipino musical specially made for the digital platform that was released in parts last year.
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