Theater Nerds: What to Stream Now on PBS

Elisa Lichtenbaum | April 6, 2020

Old Hats at The Pershing Square Signature Center.

As the editor of THIRTEEN’s program guide, I write about all the amazing programs we air each month, from our always inspiring Nature series to eternally binge-worthy British dramas. But today I’m here with my theater nerd hat – or Phantom mask! – firmly in place to share my favorite theater-related public media programs to stream while you’re sheltering at home and keeping your jazz hands freshly washed.

Great Performances “Broadway’s Best”: Much Ado About Nothing

If you couldn’t score a ticket to The Public Theater’s acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare in the Park last summer or missed it when it aired as part of Great Performances’ “Broadway’s Best” line-up in November 2019, here’s your chance to enjoy it from the comfort of your own home. Shakespeare’s timeless comedy of romantic retribution and miscommunication gets a modern twist in Tony winner Kenny Leon’s (A Raisin in the Sun) production, which stars Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Back, Broadway’s The Color Purple) and Grantham Coleman (The Americans) as sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick.

The icing on the cake? Teachers and new-to-homeschool families can help students brush up their Shakespeare with lots of amazing educational resources from PBS LearningMedia.

Stream now.

Theater Close-Up

If Off-Broadway shows make your heart do a happy dance, may I suggest Theater Close-Up? THIRTEEN’s popular series spotlights the best of Off-Broadway and regional theater – and Old Hats is one of its most joyous offerings. Bill Irwin (a.k.a. Mr. Noodle from Elmo’s World!) and David Shiner star in their award-winning, critically acclaimed production from Signature Theatre, which reunites these extraordinary clowns with original director Tina Landau and introduces their songstress and comic foil Shaina Taub. Using music, magic, technology, and movement, Irwin and Shiner create a hilarious, slapstick, crowd-pleasing theatrical experience. Laughter guaranteed!

Stream now. (Please note: Theater Close-Up programs are available to stream in the THIRTEEN metropolitan broadcast area only.)

Treasures of New York: Lincoln Center with Patti LuPone

Lincoln Center Theater’s trippy new musical, Flying Over Sunset, about Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce, and Aldous Huxley’s adventures with LSD, may be on hold until the fall, but you can dive into the fascinating history of the iconic New York City performing arts complex with this Treasures of New York documentary, hosted by Patti LuPone. The Tony winner and Juilliard graduate, who has performed on nearly every Lincoln Center stage, made her Lincoln Center debut as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in 1987 – and got married onstage following one of the performances.

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Metropolitan Opera Executive Producer Peter Gelb, and others share stories about Lincoln Center’s colorful history. My inner fashionista rejoiced from the to-die-for archival photos of fancy hats designed like Lincoln Center’s buildings to help generate public support for the performing arts complex during its early stages of planning and construction.

Stream Now.

Broadway Sandwich

Ever wonder what Broadway performers do between matinee and evening performances on their two-show days? Find out in Broadway Sandwich, a delicious ALL ARTS series that takes theater fans backstage, onstage, and into the busy daily lives of Broadway’s brightest stars. Join host Garen Scribner (An American in Paris) as he hits the make-up room with Jessica Vosk (Wicked) to observe her transformation to Elphaba-green.

Get a backstage tour of Once on This Island with Isaac Cole Powell (currently playing Tony in Ivo van Hove’s West Side Story revival), learn Simba’s signature lion moves with Bradley Gibson from The Lion King, and discover the secrets of the on-set food used in Waitress from Charity Angél Dawson.

Ready to nosh? Visit and stream all episodes now. Bon appetit, Broadway babies!

I Can’t…I Have Rehearsal

For a select few, the high school musical is sacred. Every year, students in New Jersey come together for the Tonys of New Jersey high school musical theater: Paper Mill Playhouse’s prestigious Rising Star Awards. But first, they have to get their shows off the ground. This uplifting documentary follows six high schools from across New Jersey as they rehearse, perform and compete with the very same supercalifragilistic show – Mary Poppins – with the hopes of landing a coveted spot in the black tie, Tony Awards-style ceremony.

An extra spoonful of sugar: footage of previous Rising Star Awards ceremonies featuring starry alumni including Anne Hathaway, Laura Benanti (My Fair Lady), Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Rob McClure (Beetlejuice), and Shanice Williams (NBC’s The Wiz Live).

Stream now.