Who: Ari Shapiro, Alex the Astronaut, Big Freedia, Bright Light Bright Light, Cameron Esposito, Courtney Barnett, Claud, Dorian Electra, Girl in Red, Jake Shears, Joy Oladokun, Kat Cunning, Madame Gandhi, mxmtoon, Nakhane, Pabllo Vittar, Pet Shop Boys, Roxane Gay, Indigo Girls, SOKO, Tig Notaro & Stephanie Allynne, Tunde Olaniran, Rufus Wainwright, VINCINT, more
What: Virtual Pride celebration
Where: Smithsonian Pride Alliance YouTube page
When: Sunday, May 31, free with advance RSVP, 8:00
Why: June is Pride Month, and the festivities honoring the LGBTQIA+ community, especially here in New York City, have grown exponentially, particularly over the last few years with the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall and, in 2020, the fiftieth anniversary of the parade itself. Among the parties that will not be held during the pandemic are the Pride Luminaries Brunch, the Rooftop Party, the March, Teaze, Pride Island, and PrideFest, although NYC Pride is planning such virtual gatherings as the Criminal Queerness Festival June 9-29, Savor Pride, a Garden Party on June 22, the Human Rights Conference on June 25, the Rally on June 26, Pride 2020 Dragfest June 19-21, a Runstreet Virtual Pride 5K Art Run June 20-28, and more. Everything kicks off May 31 at 8:00 with the Smithsonian Pride Alliance’s “Project Pride,” a free, livestreamed concert and time capsule, a collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and others. Hosted by NPR’s Ari Shapiro, the event will feature appearances by Courtney Barnett, Jake Shears, Pet Shop Boys, Roxane Gay, Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainwright, Tig Notaro & Stephanie Allynne, and many more, accompanied by art and historical artifacts from the Smithsonian collections.
Who: Bill Irwin, Judy Kuhn, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Leslie Odom Jr., Nicolette Robinson, Steven Pasquale, Kelli O’Hara, Phillipa Soo, Zachary Quinto, Brooke Shields, John Kander, Courtney Balan, Laura Benanti, Jeff Blumenkrantz, the Lopez Family Singers (Lindsay Anderson, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Annie Lopez, Bobby Lopez, Katie Lopez), Rick Lyon, Bob Mackie, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joe Morton, David Cale, Victoria Clark, Billy Crudup, Micaela Diamond, Rachel Dratch, Barrett Foa, Ryan J. Haddad, Christopher J. Hanke, Benjamin Howes, Julia Murney, Alex Newell, Nathan Salstone, Douglas Sills, Ryan Spahn, Michael Urie, more
What: Virtual gala variety show
Where: Vineyard Theatre Zoom
When: Saturday, May 30, minimum $25 donation in advance, 8:00
Why: The centerpiece of the Vineyard Theatre’s Campaign for Right Now fundraising initiative is “the [title of show] show Vineyard Theatre Virtual Variety Show show,” the online replacement for the canceled April 20 gala. The party, taking place May 30 at 8:00, features a reunion of the cast and creators of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s Obie-winning musical [title of show], which opened at the Vineyard in February 2006, along with special guests. The online concert and variety show will be hosted by the original cast — Bell, Bowen, Susan Blackwell, and Heidi Blickenstaff — and will include appearances by Bob Mackie, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joe Morton, Bill Irwin, Judy Kuhn, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Benanti, Steven Pasquale, Kelli O’Hara, Billy Crudup, Phillipa Soo, Zachary Quinto, Brooke Shields, Douglas Sills, Rachel Dratch, Michael Urie, and more. In order to receive a link to the benefit, you must donate at least twenty-five dollars by May 30 at noon here. The proceeds go to the nonprofit Vineyard, helping to pay staff and artists during the lockdown.
Who: Alan Zweibel, Lewis Black, Susie Essman, Mary Karr
What: Online book launch with special guests
Where: 92nd St. Y online
When: Monday, May 25, $20, 7:30
Why: When television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and comic genius Alan Zweibel first announced his book launch for Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier (Abrams, April 2020, $27), it was going to be at the 92nd St. Y, titled “Alan Zweibel and Friends.” With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down public gatherings, the event is now taking place online, and the friends have been announced. On May 25 at 7:30, the Brooklyn-born, Long Island-raised Zweibel will be joined for a virtual reading and discussion with the inimitable Lewis Black, Susie Essman, and Mary Karr. In the book, Zweibel, who turned sixty-nine on May 20, takes a look back at his long career, working at Saturday Night Live, cocreating It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, collaborating with Billy Crystal on the Tony-winning 700 Sundays, and penning such novels as North and The Other Shulman. “I write. This is what I’m wired to do,” Zweibel notes in chapter eight, “Crashing and Burning in Another Genre.” He continues, “To awaken at 5:30 every morning, sit down with my vocabulary, choose words, and arrange them in an order that would not only hold a viewer or reader’s interest, but also afford them a laugh or two along the way. And if I succeed, well, mission accomplished. There’s no greater feeling. But if I fail, well, I’m sorry, but it’s not a war crime. I swear, I tried my best.” Crystal wrote the foreword for the book, which also includes interviews with Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, and Carl Reiner. Tickets are $20, with proceeds benefiting 92Y.
Who: Charles Busch, Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Austin Pendleton, David Amram, F. Murray Abraham, William Electric Black, more
What: Live concert and summit (and many other events)
Where: Theater for the New City
When: Saturday, May 23, free, 8:00 (festival runs May 22-24)
Why: Since 1996, Theater for the New City’s annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts has been a harbinger of summer, three days of multidisciplinary performances taking place in and around the organization’s East First St. home. But the twenty-fifth anniversary of the popular weekend event goes virtual because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s slowed down in the least. From May 22 to 24, the festival, whose theme is “Renaissance: Arts Alive 25,” will feature 250 participants providing music, dance, theater, discussion, and more, all for free. The centerpiece occurs on May 23 at 8:00 with “The Mt. Olympus of LES Love!,” a concert with an amazing lineup consisting of Charles Busch, Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Austin Pendleton, David Amram, F. Murray Abraham, and William Electric Black, followed by a summit that attempts to answer the question “Where do we go from here?”
The three-day celebration will feature such speakers as Nii Gaani Aki, Michael Musto, Brad Hoylman, Carlina Rivera, and Candice Burridge; theater excerpts with Barbara Kahn, Anne Lucas, Eve Packer, Greg Mullavey, the Drilling Company, Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater, Nuyorican Poets Café, and others; comedy from Reno, Stan Baker, Trav S.D., Wise Guise, Izzy Church, Epstein and Hassan, and Ana-Maria Bandean with Gemma Forbes; dance with Ashley Liang Dance Company, Constellation Moving Co., Dixon Place, H.T. Chen & Dancers, Wendy Osserman Dance Company, Thunderbird American Indian Dancers, and Zullo/RawMovement; music by Donald Arrington, Allesandra Belloni, Michael David Gordon and the Pocket Band, Art Lillard, and Yip Harburg Rainbow Troupe; cabaret with KT Sullivan, Marissa Mulder, Eric Yves Garcia, Aziza, and Peter Zachari; and poetry readings by Coni Koepfinger, Tsaurah Litzky, Lola Rodriguez, Bob Rosenthal, Lissa Moira, and Brianna Bartenieff; along with puppetry, film screenings, children’s events, and visual art, all for free, although donations are gladly accepted.
Who: Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Martin Short, Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie J. Block, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Day, Chris O’Dowd, Zachary Levi, Zachary Quinto, Robin Thicke, Deborah Cox, Quentin Earl Darrington, Ariana DeBose, Darius de Haas, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Eden Espinosa, Jordan Fisher, Stephanie Hsu, Randy Jackson, Capathia Jenkins, Jeremy Jordan, Ramona Keller, Alex Newell, Karen Olivo, Dawn O’Porter, Laura Osnes, Benj Pasek, Jodi Picoult, Shereen Pimentel, Andrew Rannells, Keala Settle, Jake David Smith, Will Swenson, Bobby Conte Thornton, Ana Villafane, Frank Wildhorn, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Covenant House Youth, more
What: Virtual benefit for Covenant House
Where: Amazon Prime Video, Broadway on Demand, Facebook, iHeartRadio Broadway, Stars in the House, Twitch, YouTube
When: Monday, May 18, free with advance registration (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: Covenant House’s annual gala goes virtual this year with A Night of Covenant House Stars on May 18 at 8:00. It’s free to watch, although you can donate to help homeless youth specifically during Covid-19. The mission of Covenant House, which was founded in 1972 and now has locations in thirty-one cities in six countries, is that “through a combination of support strategies, including educational programs, job training and placement, medical services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, legal aid and beyond, we help young people embrace the great promise of their lives, overcome steep barriers to independence, and strive to achieve their aspirations.” The ninety-minute concert will feature performances by such stars as Stephanie J. Block, Jon Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton, Jeremy Jordan, and Laura Osnes with appearances by Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Zachary Quinto, Diane Keaton, Tony Shalhoub, and more, cohosted by Audra McDonald and John Dickerson. While we’re all stuck at home, there are too many young people who don’t have anywhere to go, before, during, and after the pandemic. Covenant House seeks to change that.
Who: Paul Dooley, Cliff Retallic
What: Livestreamed classic silent movies with special guests
Where: Retroformat Facebook page
When: Monday nights at 10:30, free with RSVP
Why: Retroformat in Los Angeles has teamed with Flicker Alley LLC, Lobster Films, and Blackhawk Films to present #SilentMovieMondays, livestreamed screenings of silent classics on Facebook, with live musical accompaniment by Retroformat musical director Cliff Retallick, special guest lecturers, and Q&As. On May 4, they showed Max Linder’s 1921 Seven Years Bad Luck and had a talk with self-described “cinevore” Serge Bromberg. On May 11, the great Paul Dooley, the ninety-two-year-old star of stage and screen, including such films as A Wedding, Breaking Away, Popeye, Cars, and Sixteen Candles, will be on hand to talk about Buster Keaton, who will be featured in one of his all-time best, One Week, about a pair of newlyweds and their new home, as well as Cops, in which he gets in trouble with the LAPD. Dooley, who refers to himself as “a household face” and was the cocreator of the long-running children’s show The Electric Company, considers Keaton his hero; he played a Keystone cop in one of Keaton’s 1964-65 Ford Econoline commercials. Retroformat, whose “sole mission is to educate and inspire enthusiasm for the art and history of silent film,” will continue the series during the pandemic shutdown with future titles and guests to be announced.
Who: Pamela Adlon, Mario Cantone
What: Live online conversation and Q&A about Better Things
Where: 92nd St. Y Facebook page
When: Tuesday, May 5, free, 5:00
Why: During this pandemic, many of us have been catching up on shows we’ve missed over the years. For me, I’ve become obsessed with the Peabody-winning Better Things, the FX show on Hulu about a single mother and actress (Pamela Adlon) navigating through her career, raising three daughters, trying to find love (maybe), and taking care of her cheeky mom who lives across the street. The semiautobiographical show, which just completed its fourth season, was created by Emmy winners Adlon and Louis C.K.; Adlon played C.K.’s wife on the 2006 HBO comedy Lucky Louie and his best friend on the FX sitcom Louie. Adlon, who voiced Bobby Hill on King of the Hill and has starred in such other series as Californication, Bob’s Burgers, Rugrats, and The Facts of Life, created the show with C.K., and they wrote much of the first two seasons together (and often directed), but FX dropped C.K. once he was hit with a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations that he admitted to. Adlon is a force as Sam Fox, who mothers her kids, Max (Mikey Madison), Frankie (Hannah Alligood), and Duke (Olivia Edward), in tough, unique ways that might not win her any Mother of the Year awards but is touching nonetheless without ever being maudlin, while Celia Imrie is a hoot as her doddering British mom. On May 5 at 5:00, Adlon will be live on the 92nd St. Y’s Facebook page talking about Better Things with Tony-nominated comedian and former children’s television show host Mario Cantone (Sex and the City, Steampipe Alley), followed by a live Q&A. Admission is free.