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Daily distraction: Broadway hits, Copland in concert and Passover crafts

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

We made it through another week. Here in New York, we’re finally getting early spring weather, making my sole excursion — a constitutional trek to the local 7-11 — a small joy. When I return to my room and crack a window for some fresh air, I look forward to a full day ahead of me and a busy weekend to come. With these suggestions, you might, too.

1) Watch Broadway’s big stars rock out from their homes

I’ve been sleeping on “Stars in the House,” a regular supplement of show tunes courtesy of musical theater couple Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley. The twice-daily concert, filmed from actor’s homes, supports the Actors Fund and is viewable on that organization’s YouTube page. Past shows have included performances by Brian Stokes Mitchell (my grandmother’s favorite baritone) and Audra McDonald (her favorite soprano) as well as Raul Esparza, Ramin Karimloo and Forward favorite Judith Light. Today’s live streams promise a 2 pm matinee by Andrea Burns and Mandy Gonzalez from the original production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” and an 8 pm turn by the notorious Colleen Ballinger, aka “Miranda Sings,” who made her name on YouTube playing a character who — well — can’t sing.

2) “Keep Score” with Aaron Copland

This season is Michael Tilson Thomas’ final one as director of the San Francisco Symphony. (Sadly, his last performance at Carnegie Hall in that role was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.) But you still have a chance to see the maestro conduct. On March 19, the Symphony posted to YouTube three episodes of its “Keeping Score” project, which weaves together documentary profiles of composers with concert footage, including one on Aaron Copland. The symphony’s keeping the trend going into the weekend, debuting Thomas’ look at the career and life of Romantic composer and fellow Jewish conductor Gustav Mahler on Saturday. More luminaries — including Hector Berlioz, Igor Stravinsky and Ludwig van Beethoven — are set to be featured on Saturdays and Wednesdays in the weeks to come.

3) Pesach projects for the kids

Look, plagues are on everyone’s minds these days — even kids. Sometimes addressing anxiety head-on is the best way to ease it, so between teaching your children best hand-washing practices, try making crafts of the 10 plagues with them. Pinterest has a wealth of fun stencils and Tori Avey’s blog features cute finger puppets that make for easy DIY projects with little ones. While you have fun fashioning boils and wild beasts, the activity allows kids to engage with their feelings about the strained current moment. But also — of course — have some holiday-timed fun.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at [email protected]


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