We may not be able to enjoy live theater this holiday season, or even celebrate in person with family or friends. But there is plenty of traditional holiday entertainment available online, and most of it is FREE.
Here are our choices to bring you comfort and joy in these last days of 2020, including The Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah, A Christmas Carol and more.
You are encouraged to make a donation, however small, to support the theater groups offering these wonderful holiday experiences for free. Remember, if you attended the performances live, tickets would be as much as $100 apiece.
Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
The New York City Ballet was smart enough to record one of last year’s performances at Lincoln Center, so this year children of all ages can delight in the Sugarplum Fairy, dancing candy canes and flowers, and the equally magical and familiar music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky.
NYCB is streaming its 2019 daily through Sunday, Jan. 3, on Marquee TV.
This is a radio version of the classic holiday story.
Theater of the Mind recreates the Charles Dickens classic with actors playing the various roles as they rotate at the microphone. There’s no set, so you have to use your imagination, the way we did before television – and streaming.
The artists use various instruments and bells to represent footsteps, doors opening and wind blowing. It’s okay to close your eyes and draw a mental picture of the action.
Presented FREE by AllArts, the streaming service of NYC’s PBS station, WNET
What many believe is the quintessential highpoint of the holidays, Handel’s masterpiece conveys beauty, spirituality, and joy with dazzling solos, instrumental fireworks, and the most glorious choral writing of all time.
And no orchestra plays it better than NYC’s own New York Philharmonic.
Enjoy listening to this 2009 performance of Helmuth Rilling’s interpretation, FREE.
For its gala this year, New York City Center presented Audra McDonald virtually in the empty venue.
She is backed by the pianist and music director Andy Einhorn, and performs favorites from the Broadway musical theater and other popular tunes which show her incredible, award-winning vocal range and talent, including Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s melancholy “It Never Was You,” for example, and Frank Loesser’s devilish tongue-twister “Can’t Stop Talking.”
Normally, SummerStage presents more than 100 FREE music and dance performances in NYC parks in all five boroughs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Since 2020 was not normal, SummerStage reinvented itself to bring performing arts to your electronic device, live and on demand.
SummerStage Anywhere digital festival showcased diverse artists from NYC and around the world including global music’s Angélique Kidjo, pop star Pabllo Vittar, and rock duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.
SummerStage Anywhere performances focused on genres that represent the best of New York—hip hop, latin, jazz, global, indie, and contemporary dance—while also providing artists with an opportunity to connect with audiences in a new way.
Watch the full season on YouTube at any time, including Gloria Gaynor signing her iconic I Will Survive, the new theme song of 2020.
SummerStage not only celebrates the power of live performance but brings communities together. The format of our concerts may have changed this year, but not the mission to make arts available to everyone remained as strong as ever.
The Congress for Jewish Culture presents a reading of S. Ansky’s supernatural play “The Dybbuk”, in honor of the the 100th anniversary of its world premiere.
It is performed in Yiddish with English subtitles, and is considered the most important work of Yiddish theater.
It explores the folk beliefs and stories of Hassidic Jews, through the story of a young bride possessed on the eve of her wedding by a dybbuk, or malicious spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.
According to Broadway World, the play has been translated into more than a dozen languages and performed all over the world. Its US premiere was on September 1, 1921, as the grand opening of the Maurice Schwartz Yiddish Art Theatre on the Lower East Side, starring Schwartz and Celia Adler. Schwartz was one of the leading actors of the Yiddish theater, first in Europe, then in the US.
The play was an important artistic and commercial hit and ran for 18 weeks.
Along with numerous Broadway productions, the film adaptation of The Dybbuk was released in 1937 directed by Michał Waszyński. It is still being produced in countless adaptations, as well as operas, ballets and symphonic suites.
The show was a sensation in the first decades of the 20th century, and is a staple of Yiddish theater. The actors dialed in live from all over the world to perform, under Allen Lewis Rickman’s direction.