When the Guthrie Theater debuts its created-for-streaming “A Christmas Carol” this holiday season, what are we going to call it?
Some people will watch on their TVs, but it’s not television. It’s being created by theatermakers, but nobody is going to watch it in a theater. As theaters remain mostly closed for the foreseeable future, we may need to come up with a better way to describe this emerging format, which also includes Park Square Theatre’s written-for-Zoom “Riddle Puzzle Plot” and Anne Washburn’s “Shipwreck,” which was a theater piece but is now a podcast.
Unable to welcome audiences in person, many local theaters have found ways to offer something online, hoping to tide them over until theater returns, while also providing a little income. Here are some that are keeping the lights on this month with streaming. Many shows are free, although donations are accepted.
Children’s Theatre Company
The acclaimed musical “Last Stop on Market Street” streams Nov. 9-22, with tickets starting at $25. Adapted from Matt de la Peña’s book with music by Motown great Lamont Dozier and his son Paris Ray, “Market Street” was filmed two years ago. It’s about a skittish suburban kid (Alejandro Vega) who visits his grandmother (Greta Oglesby) in the city. Critic Rohan Preston called it “catchy and charming.”
The tiny St. Paul theater has several virtual options, including storytelling by writer/actor Leslye Orr and, if you’re a bit behind, “The Stuffed Animal Halloween Show,” tickets to which start at $5 and can be purchased through Nov. 30.
Fortune’s Fool Theatre
The ongoing, physically distant production of parenting-themed “To Breed, or Not to Breed” will stream for free after it closes, from late November through January at fortunesfooltheatre.org.
Full Circle Theater
Based on interviews with Minnesotans, “The Empathy Project” wants to remind us what residents of the state have in common. Directed by company co-founder Rick Shiomi, “Empathy” will be presented in free, virtual, staged readings Nov. 20-22 at fullcircletheatermn.org (preregistration required).
The company has offered filmed versions of productions while also pivoting online with its Raw Stages readings of plays in development. Pearce Bunting plays Minnesota writer Tim O’Brien in an adaptation of his Vietnam novel, “The Things They Carried,” streaming Nov. 9-20. (And December’s reading sounds tasty: Austene Van directs “The Betty Crocker Musical” on Zoom, Dec. 4-10.) Tickets start at $15 for each.
The Jungle will have a virtual performance next month and debuts “Jungle Serial” this month. The first of three audio-only offerings that combine drama and music is “Mondo Tragic,” in which writer Eric Micha Holmes grapples with biracial identity. Streaming Nov. 18-Jan. 17, it’s part of a $50 package of four offerings at jungletheater.org.
Open Eye Figure Theatre
An all-female stage version of TV’s “The Honeymooners” titled “To the Moon!” streams for free in November as part of Open Eye @ Home. Kimberly Richardson and Maren Ward star in a modern take that finds elements of Greek tragedy in the midst of sitcom farce. Register to watch it at openeyetheatre.org.
MC Kurtis Blow, who’s becoming something of a holiday regular in these parts, returns in a livestream version of “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” which combines rap with Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. For $20, you can buy tickets on the Ordway’s site for the Nov. 27 show.
Park Square Theatre
The St. Paul venue dove into streaming productions early. November includes a live-via-Zoom performance by the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society, bringing to life a pair of Dracula-themed audio plays on Nov. 16 ($15), and Antonio Duke’s piece about the history of violence against Black people, “Tears of Moons,” Nov. 19-22 ($25). Both are available at parksquaretheatre.org.
Pillsbury House Theatre
Top local talents Darius Dotch, Audrey Park and more perform radio dramas by playwrights including Alan Berks and Cristina Florencia Castro as part of a series of audio offerings, “The Great Divide IV,” which tracks the last few years of discord and imagines a way out of them. Listen for free at pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org.
Rough Magic Performance Company
There may be no better way to sum up the present moment than Rough Magic’s note that its audio Shakespeare adaptation, “The Macbeth Project,” was “recorded live in closets and underneath comforters during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.” Aimee K. Bryant and Catherine Johnson Justice perform in the all-female-identifying cast, directed by Tracey Maloney. Hear it for free at roughmagicperformance.org.
Inspired by the perennial holiday poem it name-checks, “Twas the Night” is an interactive theater/literature world premiere starting Nov. 20. The event comes with a book, crafts, treats, props, a Zoom story time and more for an $85 experience meant to be shared by the whole family. Buy tickets at stagestheatre.org.
Ten Thousand Things
The company posted “Let’s Sing,” free “virtual cabarets” on its YouTube page, featuring standards and original songs performed by actors TTT fans will recognize (along with music director Peter Vitale), including Rajané Katurah (in a duet with herself), Meghan Kreidler, T. Mychael Rambo and Regina Marie Williams leading a cast of dozens in “This Little Light of Mine.”
Theater Latté Da
Viewable for free at its website, Latté Da’s online benefit includes a performance by Jon-Michael Reese of a song from the upcoming world premiere musical “Twelve Angry Men,” Sally Wingert enacting a monologue from “Master Class,” and Britta Ollmann reprising her more-meaningful-than-ever “Back to Before” from the company’s “Ragtime.” “All Is Calm,” the Latté Da holiday song cycle inspired by the World War I Christmas truce of 1914, debuts on TPT on Nov. 27 and will stream in mid-December.
Facebook Live is the place to be for offerings from the St. Paul company, featuring shows, readings and hangouts. Next up is the Nov. 9 reading of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer Prize finalist “Everybody.” An update of the classic “Everyman,” its original production underscored the universality of human experience by assigning roles to its cast via a lottery system.
Walking Shadow Theatre
Carry Nation hated booze, but she loved busting up stuff, which she does in “Hatchet Lady.” Maren Ward gave a gonzo, inventive performance as one of history’s oddest and most passionate crusaders in the musical that was presented three years ago at Red Eye Theater. It’s streaming through Nov. 30 at walkingshadow.org, with tickets beginning at $10.
Yellow Tree Theatre
The Osseo company’s tradition of homespun holiday offerings continues, although this year’s is a take on a radio play. “A Cattywampus Christmas” brings back characters from previous holiday shows for a faceoff between Yule traditions in Minnesota and Texas. Tickets are $20, available to download starting Nov. 27.
Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367 • @HewittStrib