The cancellation of theatre performances across the country and indeed the world has left a hole for many people. While practicing social distancing responsibly, we've compiled a list of theatre-related films and TV shows you can watch on Netflix right now. From film adaptations of stage shows, live recordings of on-stage productions, or documentaries about failed Broadway shows, there'll be something here to keep your theatre appetite whet during the coming weeks.
Note: these are the films available on Netflix in the UK at the time of publishing. For our readers in the United States, you can check out our top 20 Netflix picks for Broadway fans over at New York Theatre Guide.
Both versions of the story following the Little Orphan Annie are available to watch. The 1982 original saw Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan, who runs an orphanage facility from which Annie is plucked out of by a rich New York businessman. A 2014 remake starred Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, and both would be a great way to introduce a young one to musicals.
Rock of Ages
Based on the Broadway jukebox musical, which ran in the West End in 2011, Rock of Ages features songs by the likes of Def Leppard, Journey, Bon Jovi, and Twisted Sister, performed by a cast featuring Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, Mary J Blige, and Tom Cruise. Rock on!
La La Land
Dear Evan Hansen songwriters Pasek and Paul have had huge success with their stage musical work, but their Oscar-winning film La La Land was their breakthrough Hollywood film. Follow Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling through the "City of Stars" as they fall for each other to the backdrop of a lush jazz score.
West Side Story
Ivo Van Hove’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical is currently on hold over on Broadway, but you can watch the original movie. Are you a Shark, or are you a Jet?
There’s a great tradition in the US for musical productions to be performed live and broadcast on television with big names for big audiences. In 2016, Fox broadcast Grease, directed by Hamilton director Thomas Kail, and starring Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, and Vanessa Hudgens.
If Andy Nyman’s stellar Olivier-nominated performance in the Menier Chocolate Factory introduced you to Tevye from Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein’s musical, then you need to see the 1971 film. It stars Chaim Topol who created the role on Broadway, and performed as the Jewish dairyman over 3,500 times over 40 years.
Ohhhh, Hello on Broadway
American comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney’s comedy act The Oh, Hello Show saw two elderly men from Manhattan with their own TV show. It played an engagement at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway in 2016, and was filmed in front of a live audience during the run for a Netflix special.
Springsteen on Broadway
Born in the U.S.A., The Boss himself starred in his very own Broadway show in 2017, which ran for 236 performances and grossed over $113million. He plays through his back catalogue, while telling tales from his autobiography Born to Run, and it’s available to watch in full.
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
In 1981, Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along opened on Broadway. It closed just over two weeks and 16 performances later. This documentary directed by Lonny Price, who starred in the original show, details just what went wrong, with interviews and never-before-seen footage.
Michael Keaton stars in this black comedy as a Hollywood actor known for playing a superhero gearing up to mount a Broadway play. The plot is enshrined in Broadway, but is mostly known for its cinematography: the whole film is presented as one single, flowing shot.
This film is based on Christopher Demos-Brown’s play of the same name which ran on Broadway in 2018, and even uses many of the same sets and costumes as the play. Kerry Washington plays a woman awaiting news on her missing son.
Ben Elton adapted his BBC sitcom about William Shakespeare for the stage, and managed to pull off the coup of casting the comedy’s star David Mitchell in the headline role, making his West End debut. Episodes of the original series are available to watch, with many of the play’s cast appearing throughout the show.
Master magician, illusionist and psychologist Derren Brown is renowned for his mind-bending live shows, and signed a deal with Netflix to create new specials for the streaming service, including his 2015 show Miracle.
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
For even more magic, you could check out Penn and Teller’s series Fool Us. The Vegas megastars, who worked on the Mischief Theatre show Magic Goes Wrong, invite aspiring magic acts to perform for them, and if the duo can’t figure out how a trick is done, the act wins the chance to perform live on stage in Vegas.