Broadway Shows are Great Performances

Elisa Lichtenbaum | October 23, 2019

Toe-tapping musicals. A fresh take on a Shakespeare classic. A compelling play about a legendary artist. Theater lovers will be whistling a happy tune in November when “Broadway’s Best” returns to Great Performances television broadcasts and streaming. The Friday night line-up is back for a third year, spotlighting must-see musicals, comedy, and drama. So, tune in, watch online, and enjoy a virtual front-row seat to Broadway’s best! Members of THIRTEEN with the benefit THIRTEEN Passport can watch all five plays on-demand beginning November 1 at 9 p.m..

42nd Street

Friday, November 1, 9 p.m.
The festivities begin in happy, tappy style with 42nd Street , the Broadway fable of a star-struck chorus girl dreaming of her big break. The 1981 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, this all-singing, all-tapping musical extravaganza boasts the iconic songs “42nd Street,” “We’re In the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” and a cast of nearly 60 people.

Directed by co-author Mark Bramble with musical staging and new choreography by Tony nominee Randy Skinner (Dames at Sea), the revival of director-choreographer Gower Champion’s original production was recorded at the end of its 2018 blockbuster run in London’s West End, with Bonnie Langford (EastEnders) as Dorothy Brock, Tom Lister as Julian Marsh, and Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer.

Read more on our favorite actresses who have tackled Dorothy, the diva of 42nd Street.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I

Friday, November 8, 9 p.m.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I stars Kelli O’Hara (reprising her Tony-winning performance as Anna Leonowens) and Ken Watanabe. Bartlett Sher (South Pacific) directs Lincoln Center Theater’s Tony Award-winning revival, filmed during its 2018 run in London’s West End. The beloved musical about a British schoolteacher instructing the royal children of the King of Siam features a treasure trove of timeless Rodgers & Hammerstein hits, including “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Shall We Dance.” The “sumptuous” (The New York Times) production also stars Ruthie Ann Miles in her Tony-winning performance as Lady Thiang.

Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara in The King and I. Photo: Matt Murphy

Ken Watanabe and Kelli O’Hara in The King and I. Photo: Matt Murphy

The Movers and Shakers

Fans of O’Hara and Sher are treated to candid conversations about their careers in the half-hour episodes on Conversations with Jim Zirin, available with the member benefit THIRTEEN Passport. Kelli O’Hara appeared on the show in September 2017 to discuss her roles, including in The King and I when it was on Broadway in 2015, and Bartlett Sher spoke this past March about directing To Kill a Mockingbird and My Fair Lady.

During her Broadway run of Kiss Me, Kate, Kelli O’Hara treated MetroFocus to a sit-down appearance in March, along with her co-star Will Chase. Watch now.


Friday, November 15, 9 p.m.
Fans of American Masters’ recent film on artist Mark Rothko won’t want to miss Red . Alfred Molina (Fiddler on the Roof, Art) reprises his critically acclaimed performance as the celebrated American abstract expressionist painter in this Tony-winning 2010 play. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant — and growing competition from a new generation of artists — Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: creating the murals for New York’s iconic Four Seasons restaurant. Rising star Alfred Enoch (How to Get Away With Murder, the Harry Potter films) is Rothko’s assistant Ken. Original Broadway director Michael Grandage directs this 2018 West End revival, the first U.K. production since the play’s 2009 world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse.

Much Ado About Nothing

Friday, November 22, 9 p.m.
Shakespeare’s timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication gets a modern twist in Much Ado About Nothing, the first Public Theater production recorded live at Free Shakespeare in the Park by Great Performances in over four decades. Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) resets the action in contemporary Georgia with an election race underway. Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Back, Broadway’s The Color Purple) and Grantham Coleman (The Great Society) are sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick. This exuberant New York Times Critic’s Pick, featuring choreography by Tony nominee Camille A. Brown (Choir Boy), was recorded during its final weekend of performances.

It’s a Big Deal

For more background on this Shakespeare classic and its most memorable productions, stream Shakespeare Uncovered: Much Ado About Nothing, hosted by Helen Hunt, with the member benefit THIRTEEN Passport.

Kinky Boots

Ensemble in Kinky Boots. Photo by Matt Crocket.

Ensemble in Kinky Boots. Photo by Matt Crocket.

Friday, November 29, 9 p.m.
Fabulous footwear takes center stage in Kinky Boots. The high-heeled hit musical with songs by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell (La Cage aux Folles) won every major Best Musical award, including the Tony, the GRAMMY and London’s Olivier Award. Based on true events, the big-hearted musical tells the story of Charlie, a British shoe factory owner struggling to save his family business, and Lola, a fabulous nightclub entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. Kick up your heels and enjoy the acclaimed London production with its original West End stars: Matt Henry in his Olivier-winning performance as Lola and Killian Donnelly as Charlie.

Great Performances Broadway’s Best episodes will be available to stream following each broadcast via the Great Performances website ( and the THIRTEEN Explore app (

You can watch all five plays on-demand beginning November 1 at 9 p.m.  with THIRTEEN Passport (learn about the member benefit). Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #GreatPerformancesPBS and #BroadwayOnPBS.