10 Ways You Can Watch Theater, Opera, and More (Previously) Live Performances From Home

Getty | Theo Wargo

The live performing-arts community has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, but you can still watch live performances while social distancing! With gatherings of more than a few people pretty much banned across the world, theaters and other live venues are completely put on hold for the time being. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can still get your fix of live performances, while also helping to support the shut-down companies and performers.

The performing-arts community is nothing if not adaptable, and a variety of options have popped up to continue giving audiences the content we're looking for, but this time from the comfort of our own homes. From filmed Broadway shows available to stream to nightly mini concerts from the biggest stage and screen stars, there are tons of options beyond your regular Netflix rotation. Keep reading for 10 places you can watch Broadway musicals, plays, operas, comedy specials, and more performances without ever leaving your home!

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National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre is one of the top theater companies in the UK, and for years, it's been filming some of its productions and releasing them for theatrical or streaming viewing. Every Thursday night for the foreseeable future, its YouTube channel will stream one of its productions from the past few years, starting with James Corden in One Man, Two Guvnors. The chosen productions will then be available for free for one week.

Where to watch: National Theatre on YouTube

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Broadway is totally shut down right now, which means a lot of actors have a lot of time on their hands! Thanks to host Seth Rudetsky, Broadway stars are gathering (remotely) for a nightly YouTube show that features Q&A sessions, mini concerts, and even news updates from CBS News's chief medical correspondent. One part talk show, one part concert series, the nightly show also benefits the Actors Fund, an organization supporting members of the theater community.

Where to watch: The Actors Fund on YouTube

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BroadwayHD, a repository of filmed professional musicals, plays, and operas, is offering a week-long free trial during the shutdown, as well as occasional streaming events that don't require any sign-up at all! The library includes regional theater productions as well as Broadway and West End productions of major musicals (including She Loves Me starring Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi), all of which were filmed live and previously broadcast on PBS, in theaters, or elsewhere. It's, quite literally, Broadway in your living room.

Where to watch: BroadwayHD

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The Metropolitan Opera

The Met Opera, one of the most elite opera companies in the US, is getting through the shutdown with nightly streams of its productions from the past decade and beyond. Over the past several years, the Met has filmed dozens of its productions for its "Live in HD" series — you might have seen trailers for it the last time you went to the movies! Now, it's making a different opera available each night, with each opera remaining available for 24 hours after the initial stream.

Where to watch: Nightly Met Opera Streams on the Metropolitan Opera's website

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American Shakespeare Center

The American Shakespeare Center, which produces classical and classical-inspired plays in the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's theatre, is offering a selection of streamed performances (starting with an LGBTQ+ twist on the rom-com Much Ado About Nothing) on BlkFrs TV, a streaming section of its website. The streaming isn't totally free, but digital tickets start at $10 and go toward helping the theater and its staff stay afloat during the shutdown.

Where to watch: BlkFrs TV on the American Shakespeare Center website

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The Rosie O'Donnell Show

For one night only, Rosie O'Donnell revived her talk show for a three-hour talk show meets telethon benefiting the Actors Fund. The event included conversations with Broadway and TV stars, mini concerts, and more, and the whole thing is available to watch on YouTube.

Where to watch: Broadway.com on YouTube


The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues

A staple of the theater community, the 24 Hour Plays have adapted for lockdown days, making them more accessible than ever to a wider audience. A group of paired playwrights and performers have 24 hours to create a short, one-person play, and they're all available to watch for free via the project's website and Instagram. It's a fun, offbeat way to experience a cross-section of talented writers and actors in small, quirky doses without committing to watching a two-hour play.

Where to watch: The 24 Hour Plays website or The 24 Hour Plays on Instagram

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Great Performances

PBS's library gives you access to a selection of previously filmed Broadway plays and musicals, operas, dance performances, star-studded concerts, and more. Highlights include Broadway and West End productions of the musicals An American in Paris, Kinky Boots, and The King and I, Shakespeare in the Park plays, features from the Metropolitan Opera, and acclaimed plays such as Red and Indecent. Plus, for a limited time, PBS is making the library available for free, rather than charging the usual $5 to become a Passport member!

Where to watch: Great Performances on PBS

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For a dose of childhood musical nostalgia, Disney+ has a couple of options. A live filmed version of the Tony-winning musical Newsies is available, featuring much of the original Broadway cast and filmed for theatrical release. Plus, if you're feeling nostalgic for high-school drama club, there's Encore!, a docuseries following former high-school theater kids reuniting to "revive" their high-school musicals for one night only.

Where to watch: Newsies: The Broadway Musical on Disney+ and Encore! on Disney+

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Netflix has a surprisingly impressive selection of live performances to browse. Its signature is, of course, its live comedy specials, but it's also got music documentaries and even a filmed Broadway musical (Shrek the Musical).

Where to watch: Netflix