The Spring is usually a busy time for most theater companies as they’re usually mounting and running shows and holding fundraisers. But when Broadway went dark on March 12 this year due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York, many other theater companies across the U.S. followed suit within days. Even though in Illinois, Governor Pritzker’s March 13th Executive Order only applied to events or gatherings of 1,000 people or more, many theater houses and venues with smaller capacities felt it was in the interest of public health and safety to close their doors and cancel events to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And then only a week later did Illinois impose a Stay at Home Order, closing all non-essential businesses and prohibiting public and private gatherings.
While it’s true that nothing beats live performance, many arts organizations and venues have taken their programming off stage and put it online. The Belmont Theater District still has a number of offerings for those who are looking for local arts entertainment and comedy while at home.
One of the first BTD companies to take their programming online was Theater Wit. Their Chicago premiere of (the modern Richard III adaptation) Teenage Dick by Mike Lew was still in previews in mid-March, but Theater Wit quickly organized a taping for audiences to livestream the show when it became clear that a full run was out of the question. They were even featured in the New York Times and on the CBS Evening News (starting at the 17:35 minute mark)! Streaming performances of Teenage Dick have been extended through May 3, 2020.
For those whose interests fall into the Venn Diagram of Nerddom and Comedy, Otherworld Theatre has plenty of content for you. Browse their menu of online options that includes droids, hobbits, poetry, Improvised D&D, and a Super Mario version of Richard III, Super Richard World III.
If you’re missing the arthouse films that the Music Box Theatre screens, you can now enjoy them from your own home theater with its Virtual Cinema options, now through May 15, 2020. And that’s not all: with a Music Box Direct subscription, you have access to a number of film and TV options from around the world, and your first MONTH of Music Box Direct is FREE with coupon code MBD2020.
Comic relief has never been so necessary. Luckily, the Laugh Factory is delivering a daily dose of funny. Yes, every day, you can watch live comedy, streaming at 4 PM CST.
The Annoyance Theatre has a number of comedy videos to watch, including their QuaranTeam’s “Out of Touch” lockin performance. And then Streaming on April 25, 2020 at 4 PM is The Parent Crap: Fully Loaded and later at 9 PM, watch Cigarette Sandwich’s Power Hour.
And if you love a good crime comedy with a strong female lead, Eclectic Full Contact Theatre has an ongoing podcast of their 1930s radio satire, Throwing Shade that may be just what you need.
Comedy Sportz is serving up abbreviated online versions of their Friday and Saturday comedy matches now through May 30. Not only that, but they also have something for the kids, too. ReCeSz delivers 30 minutes of fun for the little ones to see other kiddos online and also get their wiggles out. Join in via Zoom, live every day at 12 PM CST.
Keep in mind, many theaters are offering *free* streaming content, but they are also happy to accept donations, which are very much needed at this time.
What have been your favorite BTD streaming options? Let us know in the comments below!