In another display of the increasing generosity of corporations who want you to know they still exist, Universal is gracing us with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musicals on YouTube…for free! The first musical released on Friday: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a 1999 film version of a West End adaptation of the musical. Each musical will release at 11:00 AM PT/2:00 PM ET on Fridays on the dedicated YouTube channel.
The next musical released will, of course, be Jesus Christ Superstar… because this coming Friday is Good Friday. Hopefully, people will stay away from church and watch the 2012 arena production of the other Andrew Lloyd Webber Bible musical instead. In addition to the full-length musicals, behind the scenes materials will also be made available.
No word on if the king of social distancing, The Phantom of the Opera, or the chief felines of anti-social distancing, Cats, will make an appearance, but surely more information will be released as the weeks go by.
It’s nice that these companies keep releasing materials that would otherwise languish in digital vaults somewhere, and one has to wonder if Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton will be made available on Disney+ sooner rather than later. While originally slated for movie theatres in October 2021, Disney could score even more subscribers with the move.
Other theatre streaming services have also been opening up their vaults: Broadway HD is offering a 7-day trial. Amazon Prime has several versions of King Lear, including one starring genre king Anthony Hopkins. PBS Passport, a paid version of PBS, has several musicals and plays under their Great Performances banner. There’s more theatre available online than ever before.
However, Universal’s gamble of releasing these Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals online for free seems unique considering how many musicals and plays are behind a paywall (or in the case of New York theatre, languishing in the New York Public Library archives). Seeing as Broadway and other theatres are shuttered for the time being, hopefully, we’ll see more theatre released for the general public.
And hopefully, at least one version of Cats will make it onto this new YouTube channel. Maybe the butthole cut. Maybe.