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The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary
Photograph: Courtesy the Really Useful GroupThe Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary

‘The Shows Must Go On!’: Watch hit musicals streaming free on YouTube

Major musicals with celebrity casts are released for a limited time every week

Adam Feldman

The shows must go on…and on. After launching in April with seven Andrew Lloyd Webber productions, and later going on hiatus for two months, the YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On! has now resumed sharing musical productions every week.

Each show goes live on the channel on Friday at 7pm BST (2pm EDT, 4am AEST) and usually remains viewable for 48 hours afterward. In addition to full-length videos, the channel features clips and behind-the-scenes footage. Links to charitable organisations are provided and donations are encouraged.

The YouTube channel, set up by Universal, streamed Andrew Lloyd Webber hits including ‘Cats’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ throughout April and May. After that, The Shows Must Go On! turned its attention to live musical-theater productions that were aired in the US by NBC in the 2010s. The latest batch of offerings focuses on successful UK musicals and theatrical concerts.

Here is what’s up through October 23:

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.

In a departure from The Shows Must Go On!'s usual practice, the stream will be viewable for only 24 hours in the UK and Ireland, but for the usual full 48 hours everywhere else.

'The Phantom of the Opera' | Photograph: Courtesy the Really Useful Group

Friday October 16: 'Alfie Boe Live – The Bring Him Home Tour'
The English singer-actor Alfie Boe is best known for playing Jean Valjean in 'Les Misérables', a role he has performed in the West End, on Broadway and in the 2010 25th-anniversary concert that was filmed for cinematic release (and can now be seen on BroadwayHD). In this 2012 concert performance, filmed at London's Royal Albert Hall, he lends his tenor to songs from 'Les Miz', 'West Side Story', 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', as well as pop tunes and a medley of James Bond theme songs. Special special guests include the comedian and new 'Great British Bake Off' host Matt Lucas, the pop star Melanie C (née Sporty Spice) and the singer and songsmith Tom Fletcher.

Alfie Boe | Photograph: Chris O’Donovan

Friday October 23: 'The War of The Worlds: Alive on Stage!’
Jingle writer Jeff Wayne's 1978 debut album, a full-length musical adaptation of H.G. Wells's space-invaders novella 'The War of The Worlds', was a smash hit in the U.K., where is remains one of the 50 best-selling albums of all time. A 2006 stage version spawned a series of touring productions around the world. This video employs more than 20 cameras to capture a performance of the show's 2012 iteration, 'The Next Generation', at London's giant O2 Arena. A hologram of Liam Neeson plays the spoken-word role of the Journalist (performed on the album by Richard Burton); also in the cast are Jason Donovan, Ricky Wilson, Marti Pellow, Will Stapleton and Kerry Ellis. The real star, however, is a 35-foot flying saucer that blasts heat rays over the audience.

The War of The Worlds: Alive on Stage! | Photograph: Gareth Davies

Previously on The Shows Must Go On!:

Friday October 2: 'Michael Ball: Past & Present Tour – Live’
Friday September 25: 'Fame the Musical’
Friday July 10: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ (repeat) 
Friday July 3: 'Michael Flatley: Celtic Tiger'
Friday June 26: ‘The Sound of Music’
Friday June 19: 'Peter Pan'
Friday June 12: 'The Wiz'
Friday June 5: 'Peter Pan' (postponed)
Friday May 29: 'Hairspray'
Friday May 22: 'The Sound of Music’ (not in U.S.)
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’

Into musicals? Stream dozens now via BroadwayHD, or check out the best streaming theatre from New York and London.

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