Theatre News

Hugh Jackman, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel and more join pop-up performance project set to be streamed

The New York project will commence later this month

Idina Menzel, Hugh Jackman and Billy Porter
Idina Menzel, Hugh Jackman and Billy Porter
© Left: Dan Wooller, centre and right: David Gordon

A plethora of free New York pop-up performances will be streamed online, the state's governor Andrew Cuomo has announced.

While venues across both sides of the Atlantic remain firmly closed for the time being, the governor has provided further details on an exciting project for US theatre fans and online audiences, beginning later this month. He first unveiled the scheme in mid-January.

Titled "NY PopsUp", Cuomo has told audiences to expect performances from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Renée Fleming, Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anthony Rodriguez, Danielle Brooks, Mandy Patinkin, Bill Porter, Gavin Creel, Kenan Thompson, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Kelli O'Hara, Sutton Foster and more.

Details about what, when and where the performances will be are currently under wraps (the project's site says they will "regularly permeate the daily lives of New Yorkers"), with interdisciplinary artist Zack Winokur overseeing programming.

The intention is not to draw mass crowds to locations for free events, but instead to create a "mass of events" (over 1000) that smaller crowds can watch either in-person or online. Aiding Winokur with the project is a range of "councillors" – including record-breaking playwright Jeremy O Harris.

The project is set to provide a way to test flexible performance arrangements, with venues (described as "flex venues") able to test out safe capacities that can mitigate risks without having to reopen with major programming. New York state has stated that a majority of these events will be streamed online, though details about market availability are to be confirmed.

Cuomo delivered a statement that will resonate with both UK and US audiences, saying: "Cities have taken a real blow during COVID, and the economy will not come back fast enough on its own – we must bring it back…Creative synergies are vital for cities to survive, and our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy."

The next question is – could something similar work in the UK's green spaces?

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more