In the sixth week of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s free online streaming series, the theatrical titan is digging deep. The latest production to be broadcast on his The Shows Must Go On! YouTube channel is ‘By Jeeves’, a short-lived musical spin on P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories.
The show streams on YouTube today, Friday May 8, from 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST). Viewers will have 48 hours to watch the show.
‘By Jeeves’: what to expect
Having kicked off with three of Lloyd Webber’s greatest successes – ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ – The Shows Must Go On! has been digging deeper into the composer’s vault lately while it makes us wait for the inevitable reveal of ‘Cats’.
This week’s selection is Lloyd Webber’s most modest show: ‘By Jeeves’, a collaboration with the marvellous and extremely prolific British playwright Alan Ayckbourn. Adapted from P.G. Wodehouse’s stories about the rich and naive Bertie Wooster and his enormously competent valet, the musical began as a 1975 West End flop called ‘Jeeves’, which ran for only a month. But Lloyd Webber and Ayckbourn rewrote it nearly entirely for a retitled 1996 version that proved significantly more appealing, and ran for half a year in London.
‘By Jeeves’ also ran briefly at Broadway’s smallest theatre, the Helen Hayes, in the final months of 2001. Nearly all of that Broadway cast is featured in the 2001 recording that streams on YouTube this weekend, which was filmed for Canadian television after the show’s pre-Broadway run in Pittsburgh. The cast is largely American, including John Scherer as Wooster, but Jeeves is played by the veteran English actor Martin Jarvis.
It’s very mild stuff, and the period score is a far cry from the rock operas for which Lloyd Webber is best known, but it’s not unpleasant. And we all could use a bit of a breather before those cats slink in.
‘By Jeeves’ will be available on YouTube for 48 hours starting May 8 at 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST). Watch it here:
And here’s our full guide to the best theatre to watch at home.