Musicals: five of the best highlights to watch at home

There may still be some time before we can once again enjoy a night at a musical.

But thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber, the vibrancy of musical theatre has been brought to countless homes during lockdown via his YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On.

It has ended its run of full productions, but highlights from some of the world’s favourite shows are still available to watch.

Here’s our pick of the performances to enjoy online ...

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    The Phantom of the Opera, Ramin Karimloo accompanied by Sierra Boggess

    It’s one of Lloyd Webber’s most sweeping and swooning of melodies with Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom imbuing the song with real tenderness and intimacy. From hushed yearning to bellowed pleading, the song has rarely sounded better. It looks great, too, the Phantom’s eyes ablaze with longing through the mask.

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    Cats, Elaine Paige

    It’s another song from Lloyd Webber’s ’80s heyday - and there’s perhaps none more famous in his entire canon. Sung with great bruised poignancy by Elaine Paige, who performed in the original West End, it builds into a stirring anthem of regret and defiance, taking TS Eliot’s impressionistic verse to soaring heights.


    Jesus Christ Superstar, Tim Minchin

    Of course it’s grandiose and epic but, once the first few bombastic bars are over, we’re into a song with a verve, swing and soul that Lloyd Webber rarely equalled. Minchin’s delivery as Judas is full of snarl and bite but there’s a sense of genuine curiosity as he gets his mouth around Tim Rice’s characteristically clever lyrics while Christ is hoisted above him, crucified. It’s a startling and unnerving scene, possessed of a dark urgency that challenges the audience to swing and sway along in the face of torture and killing.

    Tim Minchin as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar (photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) with (below in circle) Jennifer Hudson attends Hairspray Live! in Hollywood (photo: Alberto E Rodriguez/Getty Images)


    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Donny Osmond

    From Lloyd Webber’s first hit, this is one of his sweetest tunes, with lilting aah-aahs and a melody as light as air. It’s all endearingly effortless, with Osmond giving the song a suitably clear-eyed treatment.


    Hairspray Live, Jennifer Hudson

    Not Lloyd Webber this time, but a song from one of this century’s most popular musicals. Set in Baltimore in 1962, it blends feelgood toe-tappers and hip-shakers with insights into racial tensions. Jennifer Hudson sings this song of pride with great warmth and power.