Who: Crystal Field, Matthew Angel, JC Augustin, Alexander Bartenieff, Celeste Bradsher, Celestina Bradsher, Cheryl Gadsen, Michael-David Gordon, Sam Gutierrez, Ben Harburg, Dan Kelley, Terry Lee King, T. Scott Lily, Mark Marcante, Jessy Ortiz, Allison Patrick, Emily Pezzella, Justin Rodriguez, Michael Sanders, Ebonaya Smallwood, Natasha Velez, Juan Villegas, Lei Zhou
What: New oratorio by Crystal Field and Joseph Vernon Banks
Where: Theater for the New City online and individual park websites
When: Saturdays and Sundays, August 1 - September 13, free, 2:00
Why: The original plan was for Theater for the New City to stage its latest Summer Street Theater work, Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story, at outdoor sites across the five boroughs, from Tenth St. and First Ave. in front of the troupe’s home to St. Mary’s Park, Abe Lebewohl Park, the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, Fort Greene Park, Travers Park, Tappen Park, and other locations, but Covid-19 had something to say about that. In the show, a large cast of eighteen actors and a keyboardist (trimmed down from a six-piece band) follows a park manager as he navigates through the coronavirus pandemic while dealing with privatization, police brutality, land grabbing, and prejudice; the details were developed through workshops with park managers, a teacher, a protest organizer, a Black policeman, and even a clown. TNC cofounder and artistic director and Obie winner Crystal Field wrote the book and lyrics and directs; the music is by Joseph Vernon Banks. Liberty or Just Us: A City Park Story has been adapted both for online viewing and for socially distanced outdoor presentations, should New York City’s rules about performances and gatherings change. There will also be an opportunity to occasionally sing along, with words projected onscreen.
Who: Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, Sasha Hutchings
What: Livestreamed fundraisers with behind-the-scenes look at Hamilton, trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more
Where: Looped Live
When: Saturday, August 1, $10.75, 1:00; Sunday, August 9, 1:00; Saturday, August 15, 7:00
Why: Even with Broadway shut down, Hamilton continues to have an impact on theater and the world at large, particularly through criticism of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s treatment of slavery in the show, particularly in conjunction with the filmed version now streaming on Disney+. In the meantime, original cast members of the musical have organized Ham4Change, three online presentations to raise money for When We All Vote, LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project), BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective), Until Freedom, Color of Change, Dance4Hope, Know Your Rights Camp, BAI (Black AIDS Institute), and the African American Policy Forum. The program, featuring trivia, games, prizes, original content, and more, begins August 1 with Hamilton originals Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Christopher Jackson, and Jonathan Groff and special guests Brian d’Arcy James, Rory O’Malley, Andrew Rannells, Neil Haskell, Andrew Chappelle, Thayne Jasperson, Morgan Marcell, Javier Muñoz, Seth Stewart, and Betsy Struxness, hosted by Sasha Hutchings. Tickets are $10.75; VIP packages include Virtual Meet & Greets with many of the stars ($75) and Digital Fan Experiences with Groff, Muñoz, and Struxness ($1,000 each). The series continues August 9 at 1:00 and August 15 at 7:00; participants have yet to be announced.
Who: Broadway performers and celebrity guests Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Beth Leavel, Judith Light, Christopher Sieber, Wesley Taylor, more TBA
What: Broadway Bares charity event
Where: Broadway Cares, YouTube, other outlets
When: Saturday, August 1, free, 9:30
Why: Since 1992, theater actors and special celebrity guests have been taking it off for charity in the ever-popular Broadway Bares gala, stripteasing to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. From an inaugural take of eight grand that first year, the event raised more than two million dollars in 2019. Founded by Jerry Mitchell, who directed the 1992 production with the cast of The Will Rogers Follies at Splash bar, the show goes online this year, offering viewers prime seating to zoom in and enjoy the festivities, which will include new, socially distanced dances as well as past highlights. “We’re so excited to bring the heat of Broadway Bares to screens around the world for the first time with Broadway Bares: Zoom In,” Tony winner Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray, The Full Monty) said in a statement. “This year’s performers have gone full-out in both their show-stopping dance moves and desire to make a difference. You’ve got to Zoom In because it’s sure to make your laptop tingle and your cell phone vibrate!” You can watch for free via multiple online sites, but donations are strongly encouraged, with proceeds helping those affected by HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, and other critical illnesses in addition to organizations focusing on social justice and anti-racism. The first round of celebrity stars have been announced, and it’s pretty cool: Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Beth Leavel, Judith Light, Christopher Sieber, and Wesley Taylor, with more to come.
Who: Source Material Collective
What: World premiere of digital play
Where: Zoom link sent after registration
When: July 25-26, August 1-2, free with advance RSVP, 7:00
Why: “It’s nice to see you again. Do you think love will be able to exist in the new world?” James Cowan asks in a chat during a Zoom meeting. “I think it’s gonna have to,” Annelise Lawson replies. “How?” Cowan wants to know. Source Material Collective addresses that concern in the new Zoom play In These Uncertain Times, made during and about the coronavirus crisis. Based in Los Angeles, New York, and Reykjavík, the multidisciplinary troupe has produced such pieces as Light, Into the Fog, and A Thousand Tongues, pushing the boundaries of what theater is and can do — and now wondering if it can survive the pandemic lockdown. The hourlong In These Uncertain Times will be performed live on July 25-26 and August 1-2, directed by company founder and artistic director Samantha Shay.
Who: Brandon J. Dirden, Andrew Hovelson, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Glynn Turman, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Bebe Neuwirth, Phillipa Soo, Steven Skybell, Sam Waterston
What: Two River Rising Series
Where: Two River Theater online
When: Sunday, July 26, $25, 7:00 (available for free July 27-30 on YouTube); August 5-6, $25, 7:00
Why: Red Bank’s Two River Theater has amassed all-star lineups for its first two live benefit readings. On July 26 at 7:00, most of the original cast will reunite for an updated version of Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, which ran at the New Jersey theater in the spring of 2015 and hosted many postshow discussions. The racially charged tale of a polemical dinner party features returning actors Brandon J. Dirden as Zeke, Andrew Hovelson as Randall, Merritt Janson as Judith, and Roslyn Ruff as Janeece, with Glynn Turman taking on the role of Zebedee. “I think this is a conversation we all have long waited for, and now the time is here,” Tony-winning actor, writer, and director Santiago-Hudson (Paradise Blue, August Wilson’s American Century Cycle) says in a promotional video. The reading will be performed live Sunday night and followed by a Q&A, after which it will be available for viewing July 27-30; the presentation is a benefit for the theater and the Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center in his hometown of Lackawanna.
The series continues August 5 and 6 at 7:00 with a two-night reading of Paul Osborn’s On Borrowed Time, directed by Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey and starring Blair Brown, Michael Cumpsty, Oakes Fegley, Bill Irwin, Bebe Neuwirth, Phillipa Soo, Steven Skybell, and Sam Waterston. Act one will be read August 5, act two on August 6; proceeds benefit the Actors Fund. The 1938 play about death as an older couple raise their orphaned grandson has been revived on Broadway several times and was made into a film with Lionel Barrymore, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Beulah Bondi, and Una Merkel; it ran at Two River in the fall of 2013. Grey made his acting debut in the role of nine-year-old Pud at the Cleveland Play House in 1941. “Though I’m not nine anymore, I’ve revisited this play many times throughout my life, and I’m not sure I ever needed to hear what it has to say as much as I do right now,” he said in a statement.
Who: Justin Cunningham, Danyel Fulton, Marcia Pendelton, Andre Harrington, Michael Dinwiddie, more
What: Live Q&A
Where: Transport Group online
When: Thursday, July 23, free with RSVP, 7:00 (musical available for streaming through August 16)
Why: New York City-based Transport Group is streaming a filmed version of its fall 2019 world premiere musical Broadbend, Arkansas, through August 16, hosted by Tony winner Chuck Cooper; the show, which deals with racial inequality, caregiving, and police brutality and was nominated for three Antonyo Awards, stars Justin Cunningham and Danyel Fulton and is directed by two-time Obie winner and TG artistic director Jack Cummings III; the libretto is by Ellen Fitzhugh and Harrison David Rivers, with music and additional lyrics by Ted Shen. It’s free to stream, although donations are encouraged to the Black Theatre Network. On July 23 at 7:00, Transport Group will host a live discussion and Q&A with the cast and creative team in addition to Marcia Pendelton of Walk Tall Girl Productions and Black Theatre Network president Andre Harrington, moderated by NYU associate professor Michael Dinwiddie.
Who: Nina Arianda, Paul Giamatti, Pedro Pascal, Corey Stoll, Arian Moayed
What: Benefit reading series
Where: Cape Cod Theatre Project
When: Thursday, July 23, and Saturday, July 25, $50, 7:00
Why: Based in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Cape Cod Theatre Project is presenting a live, virtual benefit reading series, which they kicked off earlier this month with Zora Howard’s Bust, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz; Edith Freni’s The Hystericals, directed by Jessica Holt; and Michele Lowe’s Moses, directed by Daniella Topol. The quartet of newly developed work concludes with Kevin Artigue’s I, My Ruination, directed by Hal Brooks and featuring Tony winner Nina Arianda, Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti, Drama Desk and Golden Globe nominee Corey Stoll, Pedro Pascal, and Tony nominee Arian Moayed. The play is set in 1952 Hollywood as Elia Kazan appears before the House Un-American Activities Committee and discusses his life and career with his wife, Molly, and fellow writer Arthur Miller. Among the other playwrights whose work has been developed by Cape Cod Theatre Project are Sharr White, Anna Ziegler, Will Arbery, Bess Wohl, Lucas Hnath, Hamish Linklater, and Heidi Schreck. The readings will take place July 23 and 25 at 7:00 and will be followed by an interactive talkback; tickets are $50.