Images above: Jo Brand; Shazia Mirza

Comedy, music, theatre, and art: the latest online offerings

18 January, 2020 / by Pam O’Toole

With predictions that the latest lockdown could be a long haul, there’s been an avalanche of new online events announced this month. There’s comedy with Jo Brand and Shazia Mirza, upcoming livestream gigs with the Lightning Seeds and the Charlatans, and an impressive array of celebrity interviews.

Try an online community choir, or a curator-led tour of the National Gallery. There are new plays and musicals, with an increasing number of theatres hedging their bets with streamed options alongside planned ticketed live events. And some of the most successful productions of last year are preparing for a second run.

The Chiswick Calendar particularly recommends Matthew Bourne’s all-male version of The Pirates of Penzance (see review and trailer under “Second Run” section below).

The BBC’s also getting in on the act, with a series of live events celebrating musicals, plus iPlayer recordings of plays and ballet (see “Freebies” section below).


Stand Up With Women, 21 January

This livestream in support of ActionAid’s work on women’s rights is hosted by Jo Brand and features Shazia Mirza, Rosie Jones and Kelley Convey. Nigerian comedy star Lepacious Bose will also be doing a set.

Tickets £10


Still running (literally) Eddie Izzard continues a frantic January at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, with 31 (treadmill) marathons and 31 stand-up shows in aid of charity.

Mischief Movie Night (from the Play that Goes Wrong team) continues its run of improvised movie madness. From 23 January -14 February.


The North Will Rise Again is billed as “a livestreamed micro-festival” in aid of local venues and charities. The Lightning Seeds are headlining at the Liverpool stream on 27 March with The Charlatans headlining in Manchester on 28 March.


Rapper singer and composer Tinie (FKA Tinie Tempah) is appearing at the Royal Albert Hall on 16 April to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut album Disc-overy. It’s hoped it will be a hybrid socially-distanced event, if theatres have reopened, with streaming tickets also available.


Live from the Barbican

A series of concerts running until April 12. A wide spread of events, ranging from Paul Weller backed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra to folk singer Shirley Collins, from Vivaldi to modern classical pieces by soloists or orchestras.


Join a local community choir

Watermans in Brentford is offering you the chance to improve your singing with Hounslow Community Choir. Sessions are weekly. Term officially started on 14 January, but Waterman’s says it’s not too late to join.

Open to over 18s.  £42 for 10 sessions (term started last week).



Image above: Chiswick Choir (taken before the pandemic)


Join a filmed online curator’s tour of the blockbuster Artemisia exhibition at the National Gallery. It celebrates Artemisia Gentileschi, a ground breaking female artist of 17th century Europe. She was an international celebrity who worked for no less than six international courts, including that of Charles I. The Guardian’s art critic described it as “the most thrilling exhibition I have ever experienced at the National Gallery”. High praise indeed.

Tickets £8. Once you buy, the film is available for 48 hours.



Royal Opera House presents Marguerite and Armand, a Frederick Ashton ballet, set to Liszt’s Piano Sonata. Until 14 February. Tickets £2.50

The Royal Ballet All Star Gala (previously shown on BBC4 on Boxing Day) Available free on BBC iPlayer.


New Theatrical Productions

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change This London Coliseum production will be streamed for three nights only 28-30 January. Starring established West End performers like Alice Fearn (Come from Away, Wicked) and Chiswick Arts Ed graduate Oliver Tompsett (We Will Rock You, Wicked), this long-running musical examines themes of love, marriage and growing old together.


Tickets £17.25

All On Her Own – a one-woman play by Terence Rattigan about Rosemary, alone at midnight in London, brooding on a dark and sinister secret. Running at only half an hour, it stars Olivier award-winner Janie Dee. Runs from 16-21 February. Tickets are only £8, but come with a £3 transaction fee.


Second Run

The Pirates of Penzance

Matthew Bourne’s all male Pirates a hilarious romp through the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, is coming back for a second run. It was recorded live before the lockdown, so comes with that “real theatre” buzz (but mercifully, without someone rustling sweet packets and coughing right behind you). We watched it earlier this month.

Brilliant direction by Sasha Regan and a great cast produce some very funny moments. And if you wonder whether the “all-male” aspect of the production results in a limited sound spectrum of bass and tenor, think again. Some female opera singers might struggle to reach some of the notes hit by the amazing male soprano, Alan Richardson. He’s my new theatrical hero.  From 29 March- 5 April.

Check out this trailer


Book at streamtheatre

Stream Theatre’s also offering repeat runs of  two musicals; a critically claimed production of the musical The Last Five Years (weekends only, 29 January -14 February) and Falling Stars (from 1-14 February), a celebration of the musicals and composers of the 1920s, starring West End stalwarts Peter Polycarpou and Sally Anne Triplett. It also gives Southwark Playhouse’s Poltergeist a fresh run from 25 January -28 February.

Old Vic Playback

The Old Vic’s offering a duo of plays it presented as lockdown specials last year. From 20-22 January is Faith Healer, starring Michael Sheen, David Threlfall and Indira Varma. We saw it last autumn and Sheen is as spellbinding as ever in this tale of a faith healer touting his talents across Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Well worth a watch. And from 27-29 January there’s Lungs, the first major lockdown production launched at the Old Vic, starring Claire Foy (The Crown) and Matt Smith (Dr Who). Tickets £10- £15. is also offering a repeat run of Little Wars, with an all-female cast, headed by the amazing Juliet Stevenson, in aid of Women for Refugee Women. It’s a rehearsed reading. The concept is intriguing; on the fall of France in 1940, feminist icons Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas host Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Agatha Christie to dinner. Runs 1-14 February.

A Night in With

Fane continues its “A Night in With” series with celebrities including astronaut Tim Peake, broadcaster Nicky Campbell and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Stacey Dooley. There’s also a selection of well-known authors, including Marian Keyes and Kate Mosse. For me, the highlight has to be the event on February 14 with national treasure Joanna Lumley.



Shakespeare’s Globe is offering a free recording of its 2019 production of Romeo and Juliet on its YouTube channel until mid-February, and other productions for a fee.


Musicals on radio and TV

BBC Radio 2’s announced a series of events celebrating musicals from January 29-31. This will be followed by a special show hosted by Sheridan Smith at the London Palladium, to be shown on BBC 1. Watch listings for details.


The BBC iPlayer is offering the critically acclaimed production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya starring Toby Jones and Roger Allam for the next year.  Filmed at the Harold Pinter theatre.


Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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See also: Chiswick post “chaos” as Royal Mail struggles with Covid-19

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