7 PBS Productions You Can Stream for Free Right Now

Escape to the theater right from your couch.

Doubt MN Opera
Photo: Courtesy of Michal Daniel

As the days of social distancing drag on, we are all searching for new forms of entertainment. When you’re all caught up on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and you’ve finished the latest series from Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes, why not take a trip to the theater? Yes, the coronavirus pandemic caused theaters around the globe to go dark for now, but thanks to the magic of the internet, the curtain can rise once again. PBS has long been a reliable source to bring the arts into our homes. Be it the latest British drama series on Masterpiece, or a recording of a live production at one of the world’s most famous opera houses on Great Performances, PBS champions making the arts accessible for all. But did you know that you can stream many of these performances, in their entirety, for free online? Now, of course, if you become a member of your local PBS station with a donation of $60 or greater, you can have access to PBS Passport, which gives you extended access to stream PBS’s on-demand library of popular shows as well as library full of older PBS programs we all love. But, if that’s not in your budget, fear not. Many episodes of current series as well as the live productions we enjoy so much remain online to stream for a limited—but generous—amount of time. We’ve rounded up 7 of our favorites currently available below.

Great Performances: Doubt

This brand-new opera from the Minnesota Opera is based on John Patrick Shanley’s play of the same name that debuted on Broadway in 2005, and was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film in 2008. See how this story of suspicion, power struggles, and the hunt for the truth in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, takes new form through music. View now through June 20, 2020 here.

Live from Lincoln Center: Megan Hilty in Concert

Megan Hilty earned a Tony Award nomination for her role in Wicked and has also graced the Broadway stage in 9 to 5: The Musical and Noises Off. A whole new generation of musical theater fans rooted for her in NBC’s drama, Smash, that followed young starlets fighting it out for their big shot to see their name on the marquee. In this special from last year, Hilty will serenade you with show tunes and classic standards. Available until May 2022, here.

Live From Lincoln Center: Cynthia Erivo in Concert

Tony, Emmy, and Grammy award winner, Academy Awards nominee, Cynthia Erivo takes the stage at Lincoln Center for a magical evening of music. After stunning audiences in The Color Purple that earned her a Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award, Erivo has delighted us with her versatile range in films like Widows and Harriet. But she hasn’t left music behind. This is sure to be a wonderful way to spend your evening. Available here until May 2022.

New York Philharmonic: Celebrating Sondheim

Do you miss attending performances by your local symphony? Then this special is for you. In a live concert performance from last December, the New York Philharmonic celebrate the music of Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who gave us Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods. The special is hosted by Bernadette Peters and is available through December 31, 2022 here.

Great Performances: Macbeth

Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood’s highly acclaimed turn at Shakespeare’s Macbeth wowed audiences in London’s West End, and Broadway in 2007 and 2008. Stewart’s performance as the ambitious general in this production earned him a Tony nomination. The riveting production was filmed for television and in 2011, awarded the George Foster Peabody Award. Watch it here.

Great Performances: Much Ado About Nothing

In stark contrast with Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most loved comedies is given a fresh, modern spin. Filmed at the Delacorte Theater Stage, The Public Theater in Central Park during the Free Shakespeare in the Park festival, Danielle Brooks from Orange is the New Black and Grantham Coleman from The Americans, take on the sparring lovers, Beatrice and Benedict under the direction of Tony Award winner, Kenny Leon. Watch it here until June 7, 2020.

Great Performances: Present Laughter

And finally, keep the laughs coming with Noël Coward’s Present Laughter. This 2017 revival of the 1942 fast-paced comedy/melodrama stars the incomparable Kevin Kline as Garry Essendine, a 1930’s British star of the stage and something of a playboy in the throes of a mid-life crisis. His brilliant turn at this now classic comedy won him rave reviews and a Best Actor statue at the 2017 Tony Awards. Hurry, this one expires May 27, 2020. Check it out here.

WATCH: Watch “A Streetcar Named Desire” for Free Online

We don’t know about you, but spending our long weekend at the theater without leaving our couch sounds like the perfect plan.

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