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5 Ways to Make Up for Missing That Show You Had a Ticket for Before the NYC Shutdown

Consider this a mini-film festival featuring all the Broadway and off-Broadway shows you've had to scratch from your calendar.

As TheaterMania has been reporting for the past few weeks now, the coronavirus crisis has upended the theater world. Among those affected are the many who had tickets to see shows that they either will no longer be able to see because of early closures, or will have to wait a little while longer to see if they were able to exchange their tickets for a later date. But don't despair. As we all try our best to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, there are ways for people out there to at least get a taste of what they were planning to experience in theaters.

Little Shop of Horrors (available to stream for free with a Cinemax subscription)

Rick Moranis and Audrey II in Frank Oz's 1986 film adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors.
(© Warner Bros.)

Michael Mayer's off-Broadway revival of the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical was one of off-Broadway's hottest tickets before the theater shutdown. In lieu of seeing the current (and controversially "hot") Seymour — Jeremy Jordan — in the role though, you'll have to make do with Rick Moranis, star of Frank Oz's beloved 1986 film adaptation of the musical, also starring the original Audrey, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin as Audrey's abusive dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello. The film is slightly different from the stage musical, including a priceless Bill Murray cameo and a much more upbeat ending. If you're willing to splurge a bit more on Amazon Prime, you can buy the director's cut, which hews closer to the original musical's apocalyptic downer of an ending. Either option, however, should be a balm for those wistful for the live musical at the Westside Theatre.

Moulin Rouge! (available to stream for free with an HBO subscription)

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor star in Moulin Rouge!
(© 20th Century Fox)

Granted, there's nothing like seeing Derek McLane's astonishing re-creation of the Moulin Rouge at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. And of course, you're also missing the newer pop songs (like Sia's "Chandelier," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," and plenty more). Still, Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film remains an exuberantly maximalist wonder in and of itself. If anything, for all the stage musical's pleasures, the film remains superior for Luhrmann's pure, sincere depth of feeling. It reenergizes the familiar romantic plot, giving us a reason to become emotionally involved in the fates of the two central lovers Christian and Satine instead of simply gawking at sheer spectacle.

We're Gonna Die (available to stream for free on Young Jean Lee's website)

Young Jean Lee is the creator of We're Gonna Die.
(© David Gordon)

Having missed its premiere run at LCT3 in 2011, I was excited to finally catch up with Young Jean Lee's theatrical concert through Second Stage's new production starring Janelle McDermoth and directed by Raja Feather Kelly. Alas, by the time I was set to see it, the show had unceremoniously ended its run because of coronavirus concerns. In response, Lee made available on her website recordings of both the original LCT3 production and a 2015 performance in London featuring David Byrne singing the songs. Now that I've seen the video of the original LCT3 production, I'd say it's definitely worth 51 minutes of your time. In this current moment fraught with anxiety, Young Jean Lee's show acts as an unexpected tonic, offering glimmers of hope and wisdom amid the darkness.

West Side Story (available to stream for free with a Starz subscription)

Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood star in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story.
(© 20th Century Fox)

For those who had tickets to see Ivo van Hove's fresh new take on the Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents classic before the Broadway shutdown, here's the best way to tide yourself over until then: revisiting the Academy Award-winning 1961 film adaptation co-directed by Robert Wise and the original Broadway production's director and choreographer, Jerome Robbins. At the very least, seeing the film will allow you to have Robbins's original vision and choreography in mind before seeing van Hove's modern, multimedia approach and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's new dances. Oh, and you'll also get to see and hear "I Feel Pretty," which van Hove has cut from the new production. The movie itself holds up quite handsomely, even if leads Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood aren't the most dynamic as Tony and Maria.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime Video)

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton star in the 1966 film adaptation of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(© Warner Bros.)

Thanks to the Broadway shutdown, theatergoers will no longer have the opportunity to see Laurie Metcalf, Rupert Everett, and more in Joe Mantello's revival of the enduring Edward Albee warhorse. Why not drown your sorrows in some celluloid booze by taking in the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton movie version from 1966, directed by the late Mike Nichols? Much of the text remains intact, and the two stars, who were married at the time, strike genuinely frightening sparks in their marital battle of wills. And with Nichols's camera close in on these actors with every explosive and quietly passive-aggressive moment, there's a raw immediacy to this film that not even the best live stage production can match.