Watch Full Productions of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musicals, Streaming Free for 48 Hours Every Weekend

Writer and the­ater­mak­er Nicholas Berger’s recent polemic, “The For­got­ten Art of Assem­bly: Or, Why The­atre Mak­ers Should Stop Mak­ing,” touched a whole plexus of nerves, by posit­ing that the fran­tic rush to approx­i­mate live per­for­mance in iso­la­tion, using non-broad­cast qual­i­ty home equip­ment and a live-stream­ing plat­form, is an imi­ta­tion so poor it should cease and desist.

Acknowl­edg­ing the scary eco­nom­ic real­i­ty that dri­ves many of these hasti­ly assem­bled online read­ings, solo shows, brand new 24-hour plays, mono­logues, and inex­pert­ly shot Off-Off-Broad­way footage did not get Berg­er a pass from the the­ater com­mu­ni­ty.

Nor did attempt­ing to head ‘em off at the pass by fret­ting that his “cyn­i­cism for this emer­gency style of dig­i­tal per­for­mance will be labeled as pes­simism or defeatism” and insist­ing that it’s his “love for the­atre that cringes when (he sees) it inch clos­er and clos­er to becom­ing a Tik­Tok.”

We acknowl­edge the like­li­hood that the gen­er­al pub­lic has as much appetite for this sort of the­ater com­mu­ni­ty infight­ing as it does for the bur­geon­ing Covid-19 era vir­tu­al the­ater scene, espe­cial­ly if the play­ers are unfa­mil­iar from film or TV.

Not so the free Andrew Lloyd Web­ber buf­fet being served up every week­end in the recent­ly hatched The Shows Must Go On YouTube chan­nel.

Here, the excel­lent pro­duc­tion val­ues, famous names, and brand name tunes add up to a gen­uine tele­vi­sion event, espe­cial­ly since each offer­ing sticks around just 48 hours before turn­ing back into a pump­kin.

You’ve already missed come­di­an Tim Minchin’s unfor­get­table street punk turn as Judas in 2012’s Jesus Christ Super­star, expert­ly filmed at London’s cav­ernous con­cert venue The O2. (Have a look at the above clip for a taste of what you missed—in addi­tion to the Victoria’s Secret-style angels and mega church-style light­ing dis­plays, this pro­duc­tion fea­tured pole danc­ing, Anony­mous masks, a for­mer Spice Girl, and a close enough Shep­ard Fairey trib­ute poster for a Jesus who won the cov­et­ed role in a TV tal­ent show.

Regret to inform, you’ve also missed for­mer teen idol Don­ny Osmond as the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter in the 1999 remount of Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­col­or Dream­coat. (Or not, if Lloyd-Weber takes mer­cy on hoards of dev­as­tat­ed view­ers flock­ing to the YouTube com­ments sec­tion to beg him to air it again, hav­ing just dis­cov­ered that they missed it the first time.)

What’s next? You’ll have to ask the Mag­ic 8 ball, or wait for an announce­ment, though in the video below, Lloyd Web­ber pledges that his failed adap­ta­tion of author P.G. Wode­house’s beloved series, By Jeeves, will for sure be a fea­ture of the line up. Oth­er titles in his oeu­vre include CatsStarlight ExpressSun­set Boule­vardThe Phan­tom of the Opera, and Evi­ta (the lat­ter with lyrics by Tim Rice, Lloyd Webber’s col­lab­o­ra­tor on Jesus Christ Super­star, Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­col­or Dream­coat, and sev­er­al oth­er shows).

Each week’s fea­ture-length show streams free on YouTube for 48 hours, begin­ning at 2 PM EST.

As with much of the thrown-togeth­er pro­gram­ming Berg­er decries in “The For­got­ten Art of Assem­bly,” view­ers of these not-quite-live per­for­mances are encour­aged to cap things off with a dona­tion to a the­ater char­i­ty, with sug­gest­ed links for giv­ing in the USthe UK, and Aus­tralia.

For those who’ve nev­er caught an episode of Great Per­for­mances and thus find the con­cept of watch­ing taped the­ater “a bit of a head­fuck,” to quote Minchin, the advice he gave to Time Out (tem­porar­i­ly rebrand­ed as Time In) is:

You’ve just got to get through the first ten min­utes, and then it’s an extra­or­di­nary expe­ri­ence – because you’re actu­al­ly watch­ing peo­ple in real time.

Sub­scribe to The Shows Must Go On here.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tim Minchin Presents “9 Rules to Live By” in a Fun­ny and Wise Com­mence­ment Speech (2013)

Sooth­ing, Uplift­ing Resources for Par­ents & Care­givers Stressed by the COVID-19 Cri­sis

Live Per­form­ers Now Stream­ing Shows, from their Homes to Yours: Neil Young, Cold­play, Broad­way Stars, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Operas & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Her unprompt­ed con­tri­bu­tion to the Off-Off-Broad­way in Iso­la­tion scene is a hasti­ly assem­bled trib­ute to the clas­sic 60s social line dance, The Madi­son. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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