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Entertainment & Arts

Julia Sweeney and ‘Jagged Little Pill’ star lead Geffen Playhouse watch-at-home series

Jefferson Mays, whose solo take on “A Christmas Carol” debuted at the Geffen Playhouse in 2018, is part of the theater’s virtual lineup.
Jefferson Mays, whose solo take on “A Christmas Carol” debuted at the Geffen Playhouse in 2018, is part of the theater’s virtual lineup.
(Chris Whitaker)

Geffen Playhouse is launching a view-from-home lineup of new short performances beginning Wednesday featuring the likes of Jefferson Mays, Lauren Patten and Julia Sweeney.

The Westwood theater company will post its digital series, titled Geffen Stayhouse, on its website and on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday until its doors open to the public again. It is among many theaters that have halted operations since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus.

“It’s important to remind our patrons and theater lovers there is an artistic light at the end of this tunnel,” Geffen Playhouse Executive Director Gil Cates Jr. said in an interview. “In these uncertain times, nourishing the soul and knowing we will eventually get back to a familiar world and culture is important, and I think the arts, in their own way, can help. It’s also an opportunity to introduce people to new, complementary ways of experiencing theater they may have never considered before.”

The programming will include Mays, a Tony winner for “I Am My Own Wife,” who won raves at the Geffen in 2018 with his solo “A Christmas Carol;” Rory O’Malley, who plays King George in “Hamilton” and hosts the “Geffen Playhouse Unscripted” podcast; Sweeney, whose solo show “Older and Wider” played at the Geffen last year; and Patten, star of Broadway’s “Jagged Little Pill” (Geffen Playhouse is a producer of the musical).

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The content will be recorded, not streamed live, as many social-distancing stage performers have done as of late. Artists can fill the time in whatever way they prefer.

“While I’d love a cooking tutorial from Jefferson Mays, what we’re asking artists to provide is something they would do if they were in a theater, or if they were trying something new or new material, to a group of friends,” Cates said. “We’re leaving that interpretation entirely up to the individual, so each week will truly be a surprise for us.”

The Geffen has partnered with BroadwayHD to offer a free, 30-day trial of the theater-centric streaming service (for which anyone can sign up using the promotion code “GPHFM” until April 23).

BroadwayHD has partnered with the Geffen to live-capture productions of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” with Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek, Will Eno’s “Thom Pain (Based on Nothing)” with Rainn Wilson, and Benjamin Scheuer’s “The Lion,” which are now available on demand as part of its library of hundreds of titles.


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