Our musical theatre-mad Programme & Production Executive, Holly Spence, shares her pick of the best theatre performances available to view online.

At a time when all theatre and live entertainment is cancelled or postponed, Holly has put together a list of some of the best theatre you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

In response to increased isolation, theatres are making more and more of their content free or low cost to access online. Of course there’s no replacement for live entertainment, but you might see this as an opportunity to try new things, explore new work and get out of your theatre comfort zone.

We’ll try to keep this list updated as the weeks go by, but here’s Holly’s current pick of the world-class stage entertainment available at the click of a button or the touch of a screen.

Watch For Free

Actors on stage for Wind in the Willows performance

The Wind In the Willows

www.willowsmusical.com/

Comedian Rufus Hound stars as the impulsive Mr Toad in this West End musical based on the novel by Kenneth Grahame. This live recording was filmed at the London Palladium in 2017 and is now available to stream for free in the UK – a small donation is encouraged but not compulsory.

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The Showstoppers

The Showstoppers

www.facebook.com/theshowstoppers

Olivier Award-winning improv group The Showstoppers create and perform a new musical with every show, put together with suggestions from the audience. Following the closure of theatres, their show from the Lyric Hammersmith has been live-streamed on Facebook, where it’s still available to view on demand.

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King Lear

King Lear 

www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zP_g-ODJ2SM&feature=emb_title

Arguably Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy, this edited version of  King Lear was created specifically for schools and broadcast around the country. However, if you’re new to Shakespeare (or even a little scared of the bard), it’s a wonderful introduction to this timeless work.

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CBeebies and Northern Ballet

CBeebies & Northern Ballet

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer 

CBeebies and Leeds-based Northern Ballet have plenty of children’s ballets ready to stream on iPlayer including The Three Little Pigs, Puss in Boots and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. These 45-minute short ballets are a great way to get your little one inspired to dance!

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The Time of Your Life Performance

Gecko

www.youtube.com/channel/UCExGr1YTR864ym2YAD1LtlA

Physical theatre company Gecko have put a selection of their shows on YouTube for you to watch for free, including The Time of Your Life, a recent collaboration with BBC Four.

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Image for Live Stream Archive

Live Stream Archive

www.livestreamarchive.co.uk/

If studio theatre and more off-beat productions are your thing, check out the newly launched Live Stream Archive. Featuring live recordings of some of the most exciting small and mid-scale theatre companies in the UK.

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Opera Vision

Opera Vision

www.operavision.eu/en

Opera Vision host an online archive of live recordings of opera from around the world. Learn more about the art form and explore specific productions by browsing their digital library, or just dip your toe into this beautiful and historic form of musical theatre without the hefty ticket price.

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Cyprus Avenue

Cyprus Avenue

www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/cyprus-avenue-film/

The Guardian called it “the most shocking play on the London stage”, and following a special recording for BBC Four last September, David Ireland’s dark comedy Cyprus Avenue is now available online. This recording mixes stage performance with on-location footage in Belfast and will be available free for one month, from Friday 27th March (World Theatre Day) via the Royal Court and The Space’s website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.

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Stay At Home Festival

The Stay at Home Festival

www.cosmicshambles.com/stayathome

This new comedy initiative featuring Mark Gatiss, Josie Long, Jo Brand, Sara Pascoe and more, will bring live comedy to your living room almost every night. Donations in the form of digital ‘tips’ are optional and all money raised will go to the artists who’ve recently lost their livelihoods.

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Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage

www.sadlerswells.com

Dance theatre Sadler’s Wells is best known for showcasing world-class contemporary dance companies, so whilst their doors remain closed, they’ll be hosting and online programme of free full-length performances and workshops for you to enjoy, starting with the energetic BalletBoyz.

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National Theatre at Home

www.youtube.com/ntdiscovertheatre

Home to some of the hottest theatre tickets in town, the National Theatre is making some of its biggest productions free to watch from the best seat in the house – your sofa. Every Thursday, a new production will go live on their dedicated YouTube channel and will be available for a whole week.

Subscription and Pay-Per-View

Digital theatre

Digital Theatre

www.digitaltheatre.com/

Subscribe to Digital Theatre for access to award-winning theatre productions from around the world, including the hit production of Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith. Access is £9.99 a month and you can cancel at any time.

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Globe Theatre Performance

Globe Player

www.globeplayer.tv/

The world-famous Shakespeare’s Globe offers streams of its many productions alongside new writing on a pay-per-performance basis. You can rent or buy – and even send a play to someone as a gift!
£4.99 to rent, £12.99 to buy

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The Tempest performance

Marquee TV

www.marquee.tv/

One for the real stage buffs, you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice by the selection of theatre, opera and dance on subscription service Marquee TV, and they offer a month free so you can try before you buy.

£8.99 per month.

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