Back in April, as lockdowns kept theatres dark on Broadway and beyond, arts institutions like the National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera helped keep the ghost light burning by providing filmed versions of stage shows to audiences at home. Soon composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, a veritable institution unto himself, was pitching in as well.
The composer’s Really Useful Group, in partnership with Universal, started offering free broadcasts of the greatest Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, including such megahits as ‘Cats’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
A different Lloyd Webber musical was streamed each week on The Shows Must Go On!, a YouTube channel devoted to this project. In addition to full-length videos, the channel streamed clips and behind-the-scenes footage. Links to charitable organisations were provided.
Now there’s another chance to catch the biggest Lloyd Webber show of them all: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Though The Shows Must Go On YouTube series continues with a weekly schedule of non-Lloyd Webber musicals, the Phantom is making a return this week.
As before, the show goes live on the channel on Friday at 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 5am AEDT), and remains viewable for 48 hours afterward (24 hours in the UK and Ireland). Here’s what to expect:
Friday October 9: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’
This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hit of them all: a timeless tale of candlelit romance between a pretty young singer and the mask-wearing serial killer who has been stalking her from his subterranean lair beneath a 19th-century Parisian opera house. The libretto, adapted from Gaston Leroux's novel, is by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. If you're like about 130 million other people on the planet, there's a good chance you have seen 'Phantom' already—it is by far the longest-running show in Broadway history, and has grossed more than $6 billion worldwide—but this performance differs from Harold Prince's classic original staging.
To mark the musical's 25th anniversary in 2011, Laurence Connor directed a deluxe new staging of the show at London's grand Royal Albert Hall, produced by Cameron Mackintosh, with some 200 performers in the cast and orchestra. Footage from all three performances were edited together to create this film record, which was later shown in cinemas. The lovely Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, who had portrayed the Phantom and Christine in Lloyd Webber's ill-fated 'POTO' sequel 'Love Never Dies' a year earlier, reunite to play the OG (Opera Ghost) versions in this production, with good support from Hadley Fraser as the uninteresting love interest Raoul and Wendy Ferguson as the demanding diva Carlotta. Be sure to keep watching after the bows: In a lengthy encore, the show's original West End and Broadway stars, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, take the stage to sing their signature numbers.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ will be available on YouTube for 48 hours starting October 9 at 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST), except in the UK and Ireland, where it will be available for 24 hours only.
Friday May 15: ‘Cats’
Friday May 8: ‘By Jeeves’
Friday May 1: ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration’
Friday April 24: ‘Love Never Dies’
Friday April 17: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’
Friday April 10: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
Friday April 3: ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’