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Listen to Theater with These Audio-plays and Podcasts

May 22, 2020 by Abby Bien
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There are so many ways to experience theater. You don’t always need a stage or a screen or a script — sometimes all you need is a pair of headphones.

“I think that audio plays are extremely powerful as they stimulate the listeners’ imagination and engage them in a more sensorial way,” says Kate Del Castillo, whose play “the way she spoke” is one of many (see below) that you can listen to. “It’s a magnificent way to reach an audience that otherwise wouldn’t have access to the stage version and gives them a chance to learn and be entertained from wherever they are. The audio version of the stage production also shines a light on the brilliant writing of this piece and challenged me to deliver a nuanced vocal performance that is required of a one-woman show.” 

We’ve compiled a list of 30 (actually way more — you’ll see once you get to the bottom) recorded plays and fictional podcasts that you can listen to right now. Whether you’re wanting to relive a performance you saw onstage or explore a whole new theatrical world via audio, we’ve got the title for you.

Podcasts

36 Questions
Calling all musical theater nerds: Jonathan Groff (“Spring Awakening,” “Hamilton”) and Jessie Shelton (“Hadestown”) play a couple in this musical podcast that’s unlike anything else. Before you know it you’ll be singing along to every single song.

Alice Isn’t Dead
Roberta Colindrez (“Fun Home”) lends her voice to this non-stop, conspiracy-filled crime drama. You’ll also get a taste of sci-fi thrown in there too.

Homecoming
Maybe you’ve watched the TV show based on the podcast or maybe you’re just in need of an innovative, thrilling story voiced by Oscar Isaac, Catherine Keener, Amy Sedaris and more. Either way, “Homecoming” is for you.

The Horror of Dolores Roach
After 16 years in prison, Dolores Roach returns home to New York City. No one could lead this story quite like original “Rent” cast member Daphne Rubin-Vega. Make sure you leave some time on your calendar before you press “play” because this is one you’ll want to binge.

The Two Princes
It’s the fantasy fairytale you’ve been waiting for. Noah Galvin (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Ari’el Stachel (“The Band’s Visit”), Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”), Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”), and more bring life to this fam-friendly podcast.

Oh, Hello: the Podcast
No questions asked, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll are two of the funniest people on the planet. Listen as their “friends” Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland investigate Princess Diana’s death. Lin-Manuel Miranda may or may not make an appearance.

The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air)
Immerse yourself (literally!) in the adventures of your new fave janitor. Make sure you listen for John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), Jessie Shelton (“Hadestown”), Mandy Patinkin (a Broadway icon), and more.

Plays

An Act of God
Sean Hayes leads “An Act of God” as none other than God himself. It’s a 90-minute show that packs a punch as God attempts to answer some of the deepest questions on mankind’s mind.

Angels in America
This one is epic. The knockout Broadway revival of “Angels in America” gets the audio treatment with the original cast led by Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, and more.

Feeding the Dragon
One listener called this a “feast for the creative soul.” We could all use a bit of that right now, couldn’t we? Sharon Washington tells her very own story in this moving piece.

Girls & Boys
Carey Mulligan’s performance as an unnamed woman, mother, and wife feels comfortable — until it doesn’t. That’s all we’re going to say about this one. 

The Half-Life of Marie Curie
Marie Curie spent two months on the British seaside with Hertha Ayrton in 1912. This play reimagines what may have happened with Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany as the stars.

Harry Clarke
As the writer of this list, I don’t think I’m allowed to pick favorites, but I am going to anyway. This is one of the most exciting pieces of art I’ve ever seen, listened to, or listened to again. (Yes I bought the Audible version after seeing the play twice in one week.) Believe me when I say listening to it feels just as transportive as seeing Billy Crudup onstage. You must listen. Right now.

Latin History for Morons
John Leguizamo is basically the king of one-man shows and this audio production of “Latin History for Morons” (he’s performed the show on Broadway and beyond) proves why that’s the case.

My Name is Lucy Barton
When this one-woman show came from the West End to Broadway earlier this year — every single performance was sold out. And once you’ve listened to Laura Linney’s performance, it’ll be easy to understand why.

Proof of Love
This Audible Original stars Brenda Pressley as a woman who must face reality when her seemingly happy life comes crashing to a halt.

Sakina’s Restaurant
Comedian Aasif Mandvi first performed this play over 20 years ago in New York City. He recently returned to the stage to tell this immigrant, coming-of-age tale and we’re so glad he recorded it for Audible too.

Sea Wall / A Life
It’s no surprise that Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge are a perfect duo. Each actor expertly performs a monologue in this honest, heartbreaking piece and the result is a back-to-back punch of emotion.

True West
Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”) and Johnny Flynn (“Lovesick,” “Emma.”) tackled this text on the West End last year. We feel lucky that it was recorded forever and we can listen to them perform whenever we want.

the way she spoke
The moment “the way she spoke” begins, Kate del Castillo’s performance will transport you away from your home and onto the streets of Juárez, Mexico. An important story that’s rarely spoken, this play is worth your time.

L.A. Theatre Works

L.A. Theatre Works’ mission is to “record and preserve great performances of important stage plays, using new technology to make world-class theatre accessible to the widest possible audience.” So basically it’s a dream come true of a resource. You can easily browse their full catalog for days, but a good starter pack includes forever faves “All My Sons,” “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” “August: Osage County,” and “The Odd Couple.”

Playing On Air

Playing On Air is what this is all about. The organization is “dedicated to sharing great short theater with the public.” It combines short plays with top playwrights and actors you know and love. The perfect trio. Kick off your listen with Adam Driver in “The Strangest Kind of Romance,” Lynn Nottage’s “Poof!,” Celia Keenan-Bolger in “Attention,” Timothée Chalamet in “Tennessee,” or Micahel Urie in “My Husband.” No matter what you pick, you really can’t go wrong.

Williamstown Theatre Festival

This is super cool. Rather than cancelling their 2020 programming, the Williamstown Theatre Festival is taking the entire season online. This summer, you’ll be able to listen to Bobby Cannavale and Audra McDonald in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Taylor Schilling in the world premiere of “Russian Doll” creator Leslye Headland’s “Cult of Love,” and more. Join the (online) audience now.