For the Love of Theatre: From the Classics to the New

by jessalnm | created - 11 months ago | updated - 1 day ago | Public

Filmed pieces of theatre; plays, musicals classic and new. Top ten subject to change.

Upcoming titles are at the very end of the list.

**** = have personally seen

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1. Passion (1996 TV Movie)

114 min | Drama, Musical, Romance

In 19th century Italy, a young soldier becomes shattered by the obsessive love of Fosca, his Colonel's homely, ailing cousin.

Director: James Lapine | Stars: Donna Murphy, Jere Shea, Marin Mazzie, Gregg Edelman

Votes: 263

Top 10 ****

2. The Tempest (II) (2014)

169 min | Comedy, Drama

Prospero, Duke of Milan, usurped and exiled by his own brother, holds sway over an enchanted island. He is comforted by his daughter Miranda and served by his spirit Ariel and his deformed ... See full summary »

Director: Jeremy Herrin | Stars: Colin Morgan, Roger Allam, Jason Baughan, Jessie Buckley

Votes: 172

Top 10 ****

3. Twelfth Night (2013)

176 min | Comedy

Shipwrecked twins are lost among love-sick aristocrats, unruly servants, mischievous pleasure seekers, clowns, and a puritan. With music as the bittersweet "food of love," all converge and conspire in this comic journey.

Director: Tim Carroll | Stars: Samuel Barnett, Liam Brennan, Paul Chahidi, John Paul Connolly

Votes: 172

Top 10 ****

4. Hamlet (2009 TV Movie)

PG | 180 min | Drama

The RSC puts a modern spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet in this filmed-for-television version of their stage production. The Prince of Denmark seeks vengeance after his father is murdered and his mother marries the murderer.

Director: Gregory Doran | Stars: David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Penny Downie, Oliver Ford Davies

Votes: 2,872

Top 10 ****

5. National Theatre Live: Angels in America Part One - Millennium Approaches (2017)

220 min | Drama

The National Theatre's live theatrical production of Tony Kushner's play 'Angels in America' about New Yorkers grappling with the AIDS crisis during the mid-1980s.

Director: Marianne Elliott | Stars: Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey, Denise Gough, Nathan Lane

Votes: 330

Top 10 ****

6. National Theatre Live: Angels in America Part Two - Perestroika (2017)

220 min | Drama

America in the mid-1980s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell.

Director: Marianne Elliott | Stars: Andrew Garfield, Russell Tovey, Nathan Lane, Denise Gough

Votes: 258

Top 10 ****

7. National Theatre Live: Hedda Gabler (2016)

145 min | Drama

Hedda and Tesman have just returned from their honeymoon and the relationship is already in trouble. Trapped but determined, Hedda tries to control those around her, only to see her own world unravel.

Director: Nick Wickham | Stars: Kate Duchêne, Chukwudi Iwuji, Éva Magyar, Sinead Matthews

Votes: 95

Top 10 ****

8. National Theatre Live: Hangmen (2016)


In his small pub in the northern English town of Oldham, Harry (David Morrissey - The Walking Dead, State of Play) is something of a local celebrity. But what's the second-best hangman in ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Dunster | Stars: Josef Davies, James Dryden, Johnny Flynn, Tony Hirst

Votes: 76

Top 10 ****

9. National Theatre Live: Amadeus (2017)

206 min | Musical

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arrives in Vienna, the music capital of the world - and he's determined to make a splash.

Director: Michael Longhurst | Stars: Sarah Amankwah, Hammed Animashaun, Geoffrey Beevers, Karla Crome

Votes: 67

Top 10 ****

10. Company (2011)

Not Rated | 145 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

Following five couples and their friend Robert (Neil Patrick Harris), the perpetual bachelor, Company explores the true meaning of being in a relationship through a series of vignettes. ... See full summary »

Director: Lonny Price | Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Martha Plimpton, Anika Noni Rose

Votes: 981

**** Top 10 Much prefer this production's direction to any other interpretation of Company. Very good- wholly recommend.

11. The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall (2011)

Not Rated | 137 min | Drama, Music, Musical

A disfigured musical genius, hidden away in the Paris Opera House, terrorizes the opera company for the unwitting benefit of a young protégée whom he trains and loves.

Directors: Nick Morris, Laurence Connor | Stars: Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Hadley Fraser, Wendy Ferguson

Votes: 5,943


12. Hamlet (2018 TV Movie)

191 min | Drama

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Directors: Robert Icke, Rhodri Huw, Ilinca Radulian | Stars: Andrew Scott, Juliet Stevenson, Jessica Brown Findlay, Luke Thompson

Votes: 124

**** Really a toss up between Tennant's and Scott's portrayals. Tennant being filled with boyish humour and anger, expressing his madness through ravings and sarcasm. While, Scott is more emotionally vulnerable, more introverted. Wholly recommend both, for different reasons.

13. Much Ado About Nothing (2011)

161 min | Comedy, Romance

Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well.

Director: Robert Delamere | Stars: Tom Bateman, Alex Beckett, Jonathan Coy, Mike Grady

Votes: 378


14. Great Performances (1971– )
Episode: Kiss Me Kate (2003)

147 min | Music

A live performance of the 1999 revival, taped in London in the theatre in which it was staged, and in front of a live audience.

Director: Chris Hunt | Stars: Brent Barrett, Rachel York, Nancy Kathryn Anderson, Michael Berresse

Votes: 210

**** As many reviews agree, this production gets Kiss Me Kate right, especially in comparison to the film. The two leads, Brent and Rebecca, deliver great performances. Both are extremely charismatic and engaging. I recommend giving this version a watch.

15. Coriolanus (2014)

192 min | Drama, History, War

Caius Martius Coriolanus is a war hero, banished from his home, seeking to come back.

Director: Tim Van Someren | Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, Hadley Fraser, Jacqueline Boatswain

Votes: 1,355


16. Pippin: His Life and Times (1981 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 112 min | History, Musical, Romance

At the goading of the ominous and omnipresent Leading Player, Pippin, the eldest son of King Charlemagne, samples life's pleasures to discover his place in the world and the meaning of his life.

Director: David Sheehan | Stars: Ben Vereen, William Katt, Leslie Denniston, Benjamin Rayson

Votes: 410


17. Oh, Hello on Broadway (2017 TV Movie)

TV-MA | 104 min | Comedy

Two delusional geriatrics reveal curious pasts, share a love of tuna and welcome a surprise guest in this filming of the popular comedy show.

Directors: Michael John Warren, Alex Timbers | Stars: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Steve Martin, Matthew Broderick

Votes: 1,944


18. National Theatre Live: A View from the Bridge (2015)


The great Arthur Miller confronts the American dream in this dark and passionate tale. In Brooklyn, longshoreman Eddie Carbone welcomes his Sicilian cousins to the land of freedom. But when... See full summary »

Director: Ivo van Hove | Stars: Emun Elliott, Phoebe Fox, Michael Gould, Richard Hansell

Votes: 105


19. Wit (2001 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 99 min | Drama

A renowned professor is forced to reassess her life when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Emma Thompson, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Atkins, Audra McDonald

Votes: 8,324

**** A teleplay of a stage play. However, the teleplay is the only version available of this important and heart wrenching piece.

**** An RSC production filmed for television on a sound stage rather than in theatre. Better than any other version of The Merchant of Venice I have seen (even the film). Set within pre-war Germany on the cusp of the Third Reich's rise to power, which gives the play a different tone and a sense of foreboding. Overall, great performances and brilliant direction. Can't recommend it enough.

21. Ghosts (I) (2014)

107 min | Drama

Live recording of London stage production of Ibsen's classic play 'Ghosts'.

Director: Robert Delamere | Stars: Lesley Manville, Jack Lowden, Adam Kotz, Charlene McKenna

Votes: 30


22. The Winter's Tale (2017)

Cheek by Jowl's adaptation of the Shakespearean play "The Winter's Tale". Determined that his wife has been unfaithful, King Leontes goes down a path of tyranny- exiling friends, courtiers, and even family.

Director: Declan Donnellan | Stars: Grace Andrews, Tom Cawte, Ryan Donaldson, Orlando James

**** Though it lacks the same level of production values or even level of subtlety at times compared to Branagh's production, Cheek by Jowl's interpretation is somehow more understandable, and a bit more enjoyable to watch (just for its unusual direction/choices alone). Available to watch in full through Cheek by Jowl's page-

23. Live From Lincoln Center (1976– )
Episode: Falsettos (2017)

Music, Musical

The 2016 Broadway Revival of William Finn's Tony-winning musical. It tells the story of Marvin, a Jewish family man who leaves his wife and son for a male lover during the height of the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York City.

Directors: Matthew Diamond, James Lapine | Stars: Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz

Votes: 124

**** The performances and cast make this production as strong as it is. It is all about what this cast brings to this piece.

24. The King an I (2018)

Drama, Musical, Romance

Set in 1860s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna, a British schoolteacher whom the ... See full summary »

Director: Gary Halvorson | Stars: Kelli O'Hara, Ken Watanabe, Ruthie Ann Miles, Dean John-Wilson

Votes: 70

**** Apart from the mix-match in accents, this is an enjoyable production.

25. Great Performances (1971– )
Episode: Leonard Bernstein's Candide, a Comic Operetta in Two Acts (2005)

120 min | Music

A concert performance of Bernstein's famous musical.

Director: Lonny Price | Stars: Thomas Allen, Paul Groves, Michael McCormick, Gina Ferrall

Votes: 133

**** A condensed version of the operetta; scrapping parts of the book here and there, only keeping what is necessary for general plot and introductions to songs. Because of its length, it is probably the most enjoyable production to watch; it doesn't feel like it's always stopping for exposition, which is often the fault of other full length versions. Some might say this is a highly campy iteration that reduces the plight of the characters, but when listening to the actual lyrics and libretto how serious can this piece really be without feeling tonal whiplash.

26. National Theatre Live: All My Sons (2019)


America, 1947, Joe and Kate Keller are a success story. But their contented lives are about to shatter. A figure from the past forces long buried truths to the surface lying bare the price of their American dream.

Director: Jeremy Herrin | Stars: Jenna Coleman, Bill Pullman, Sally Field, Colin Morgan

Votes: 45

Pullman's and Field's performances are the real driving forces behind this production. Coleman and Morgan have presence, but at times they seem hendered, especially in trying to deliver their lines (they have unnatural diction and accents). Which can throw a viewer off, even if there is nothing particularly bad about the performances themselves. Standing toe-to-toe against an actor such as Field, the ticks and flaws of the other cast members unfortunately become more obvious. However, the production still hits a dramatic and emotional wallop, which is evident by the audience's audible reactions.

27. American Playhouse (1981– )
Episode: True West (1984)

110 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A videotaped stage performance of Sam Shepard's play

Director: Allan A. Goldstein | Stars: John Malkovich, Sam Schacht, Gary Sinise, Margaret Thomson

Votes: 428


28. Performance (1992– )
Episode: Uncle Vanya (1991)


A retired professor has returned to his estate to live with his beautiful young wife, Yelena. The estate originally belonged to his first wife, now deceased; her mother and brother still ... See full summary »

Director: Gregory Mosher | Stars: David Warner, Ian Holm, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Ian Bannen

Votes: 64


29. Royal Shakespeare Company: Richard II (2013 TV Movie)

180 min | Drama

A monarch ordained by God to lead his people. But he is also a man of very human weakness. A man whose vanity threatens to divide the great houses of England and drag his people into a dynastic civil war that will last 100 years.

Director: Gregory Doran | Stars: David Tennant, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Antony Byrne, Sean Chapman

Votes: 301

**** Know they're two different mediums, but Whishaw's performance of Richard is the standard for me. Tennant is the standout amongst this production, but his Richard and this Bolingbroke are less sympathetic as characters, which it makes it a bit more difficult to watch/enjoy or care who will 'seize the crown'. They are written to be pompous, arrogant, and ambiguous, but there needs to be a tonal shift midway, and here it is not really felt. Not without merit though.

30. Oklahoma! (1999 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 180 min | Musical, Romance, Western

Cowboy Curly McClain tries to win the heart of a girl in a singing and dancing extravaganza.

Director: Trevor Nunn | Stars: Maureen Lipman, Hugh Jackman, Josefina Gabrielle, David Shelmerdine

Votes: 1,673


31. Performance (1992– )
Episode: A Doll's House (1992)

140 min | Drama

Nora Helmer has years earlier committed a forgery in order to save the life of her authoritarian husband Torvald. Now she is being blackmailed lives in fear of her husband's finding out and... See full summary »

Director: David Thacker | Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Trevor Eve, Geraldine James, Patrick Malahide

Votes: 89


32. Shakespeare Live! From the RSC (2016 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Musical

A celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, broadcast live at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Directors: Bridget Caldwell, Gregory Doran, Robin Mason, Tim Taggart | Stars: Catherine Tate, David Tennant, Akala, Roger Allam

Votes: 138

No full performances, only clips. However, includes a scene from a production of 'As You Like It' that I desperately wanted to see, but was never filmed. Only available through soundtrack and radio drama versions. ****

33. All's Well That Ends Well (I) (2012)

Not Rated | 138 min | Comedy, Drama

All's Well That Ends Well centers on the tale of Helena's quest to marry the man she loves, the rather unimpressed Bertram.

Director: John Dove | Stars: Michael Bertenshaw, Sam Cox, Sam Crane, Naomi Cranston

Votes: 33


34. Fifty Years on Stage (2013 TV Movie)

151 min | Documentary

Royal National Theatre celebrates 50 years.

Stars: Roger Allam, Jonathan Bailey, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Bennett

Votes: 203

Again, no full performances, but includes actors in roles never seen before (only performed for this celebration). ****

35. Shakespeare's Globe: Titus Andronicus (2015)

186 min | Drama

Grotesquely violent and daringly experimental, Titus was the smash hit of Shakespeare's early career, and is written with a ghoulish energy he was never to repeat elsewhere.

Director: Lucy Bailey | Stars: William Houston, Indira Varma, Obi Abili, Samuel Edward-Cook

Votes: 30

**** A better go at Titus than the RSC version.

36. Shakespeare's Globe: Romeo and Juliet (2010 Video)

171 min | Drama

Young love turns tragic when complicated by the hatred of an older generation and the pressures of society.

Director: Dominic Dromgoole | Stars: Tomiwa Edun, Ellie Kendrick, Jack Farthing, Philip Cumbus

Votes: 66


37. The Duchess of Malfi (2014 TV Movie)

160 min | Drama

From the Blackfriars' theatre in London, Andrew Marr presents a unique television premiere - a new production of John Webster's bloody revenge tragedy The Duchess of Malfi performed in a ... See full summary »

Director: Dominic Dromgoole | Stars: Gemma Arterton, Archie Bradfield, Giles Cooper, David Dawson

Votes: 81


38. Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary (2010)

Not Rated | 178 min | Drama, Music, Musical

A celebratory 25th anniversary concert performance of the hit musical at The O2 in London.

Director: Nick Morris | Stars: Alfie Boe, Norm Lewis, Matt Lucas, Jenny Galloway

Votes: 4,611


39. BBC Play of the Month (1965–1983)
Episode: Uncle Vanya (1970)


A retired professor has returned to his estate to live with his beautiful young wife, Yelena. The estate originally belonged to his first wife, now deceased; her mother and brother still ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Morahan | Stars: Freddie Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Ann Bell, Roland Culver

Votes: 55


40. The Glass Menagerie (1987)

PG | 134 min | Drama

A son longs to escape from his stifling home, where his genteel mother worries about the future prospects of his lame, shy sister.

Director: Paul Newman | Stars: Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, James Naughton

Votes: 1,801 | Gross: $0.90M


41. Great Performances (1971– )
Episode: Show Boat (1989)

165 min | Music

A stage production of the classic musical, videotaped in front of a live audience at the Paper Mill Playhouse, New Jersey.

Director: Kirk Browning | Stars: Eddie Bracken, Rebecca Baxter, Richard White, Shelly Burch

Votes: 83

**** The acting can be a bit stagey at times. However, this is the complete show with vibrant costumes, flashy staging, and overall good vocal performances.

42. Grease Live! (2016 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 140 min | Musical, Romance

After enjoying a summer romance, high school students Danny and Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High. There Sandy must contend with cynical Rizzo and the Pink Ladies in attempt to win Danny's heart again.

Directors: Thomas Kail, Alex Rudzinski | Stars: Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Hudgens, Keke Palmer

Votes: 7,972


Superior to the National Theatre production a few years back, this As You Like It has a worthy Rosalind in Lucy Phelps. Still, it is not able to surpass the RSC's 2013 production, which had better chemistry between the leads and brought more ambiguity to the games within the forest.

44. Red (VII) (2018)

90 min | Drama

Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant, the artist Mark Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work of art for an extraordinary setting.

Director: Michael Grandage | Stars: Alfred Enoch, Alfred Molina

Votes: 28


45. The Winter's Tale (1999 TV Movie)

170 min | Comedy, Drama

William Shakespeare's play as performed by the Barbican Theater in 1999.

Director: Robin Lough | Stars: Steven Atholl, Ken Bones, Christopher Brand, Emily Bruni

Votes: 41

**** A production with classic staging and direction, similar to that of Branagh’s (even set within the same time period). However, this RSC production is far superior. If you can find this version, watch it instead.

46. Long Day's Journey Into Night (1987 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 170 min | Drama

Eugene O'Neill's award-winning and classic play about a day in the life of a dysfunctional family controlled by their addictions gets a staged version made for TV. Past, present and future ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Miller | Stars: Patricia Fraser, Peter Gallagher, Jack Lemmon, Bethel Leslie

Votes: 203


47. Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1998 TV Movie)

180 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Viola and her twin brother Sebastian are separated after a shipwreck on the coast of Illyria, and each believes the other drowned. Viola disguises herself as a male page named Cesario and ... See full summary »

Stars: Helen Hunt, Kyra Sedgwick, Philip Bosco, Paul Rudd

Votes: 233

Helen Hunt gives a commendable performance as Viola, however she is let down by her supporting cast, especially that of Paul Rudd's Orsino.