The World's A Stage: Top Free Theatre And Other Performances Your Family Will Love During Lockdown

Georgia Stone
Dec 12, 2023 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Apr 06, 2020
Family engrossed in a show at the theatre.

Just because we can't go to the theatre in person doesn't mean we have to miss out entirely! Even though London's West End has shut down, plenty of theatre companies are either releasing live recordings of their productions, or are streaming new ones online, including the National Theatre and musical mogul Andrew Lloyd Webber.

We've scoured the internet for the very best theatre that you can experience from the comfort of your own home - check out our top picks below.

Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Shows Must Go On!

Suitable for: 8+ years, depending on the show

How many shows: new performances added weekly

Musical fans, this one's for you! King of musicals Andrew Lloyd Webber is releasing his full back catalogue on the new The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel for free every week.

You'll find all your favourite West End and Broadway musicals, with one released every Friday at 7pm for 48 hours only.

Make sure you put it in your calendar so that you don't miss out! Iconic 2000 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat kicks off the party on 3 April, followed by Jesus Christ Superstar (2012) on 10 April, starring Tim Minchin and Mel C,

With 48 hours to watch each musical after its release, grab a snack and settle down for the perfect weekend activity for the whole family.

Check out this musical mix here.

Whatever the Weather by M6

Suitable for: 3 - 7 years

How many shows: one performance

If you're trying to bring another dimension to your family entertainment during lockdown, children's theatre is still an option!

Rochdale-based touring company M6 has released its vibrant, funny show Whatever the Weather for kids aged 3-7 for free. Watch the story of a couple who live in a little house in the mountains, with the little man heading outside when it rains, and the little lady only going outside when it's sunny.

One day they realise that the world is better shared together than alone - a very apt message for the current situation.

Your youngest kids will love this tale of family, sharing and magic, and it's available to stream for free for the foreseeable future.

Step into this delightful story here.

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Suitable for: 8+ years

How many shows: one performance

The show must go on! You've probably heard of improv icons the Showstoppers before, but they truly put their skills to the test with this live performance on Facebook.

When the West End shut down, this Olivier Award-winning group decided to create an improvised show entirely online. Audience members across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram gave suggestions for plot twists and settings, just like the real-life version of the show.

The final result was a ridiculous musical called Haggis! that's silly and funny in all the right ways, especially during this time.

Watch the 45-minute show here.

National Theatre

Suitable for: 8+ years, depending on the show

How many shows: new performances added weekly

As a special treat during the global theatre closures, you can now view top productions from the National Theatre at home for free. Every Thursday at 7pm a new production is streamed to their YouTube channel but you'll be able to view it afterwards as well.

You can expect a range of shows, from comedy to classics, starting with Tony award-winning comedy One Man, Two Guvnors on 2 April starring James Corden.

From 9 April you'll be able to watch Sally Cookson's Jane Eyre, on 16 April you can catch a swashbuckling, kid-friendly version of Treasure Island, and on 23 April the delightfully dramatic Twelfth Night will be streamed. More shows will be announced in the coming weeks.

As the streams take place at the same time each week, National Theatre at Home hopes to recreate the joyful, communal theatre-going experience that we're all missing at the moment, and aims to get people to share their enjoyment online as it happens.

Discover the National Theatre productions here.

Girls Like That

Suitable for: 13+ years

How many shows: one performance

Unicorn Theatre has released its 2014 production of Girls Like That on YouTube. Known primarily for its incredible theatre for young audiences, this show is no different.

With some strong language and more mature themes, Evan Placey's Girls Like That is perfect for teens, unabashedly telling the story of young women in the digital age. Watch as Scarlett and her friends navigate gender inequality and the battle against toxic rumours that threaten to shatter their friendship.

Expect raw, honest, bold theatre that'll leave your teens feeling empowered.

Watch the production here.

Sadler’s Wells

Suitable for: 8+ years, depending on the show

How many shows: new performances added consistently

London's Sadler's Wells has launched Sadler's Wells Facebook Premieres as part of Digital Stage, a platform dedicated to filling the hole that live theatre and dance has left in our lives. Over the next few weeks and months, you'll be able to watch live versions of various productions for free online.

On Friday 3 April balletLORENT's magical dance-theatre version of Rumpelstiltskin was released, which will be followed by dynamic dance show TOM and plenty more, all on the Sadler's Wells Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

You can typically expect each production to stay online for seven days, so make sure to catch them before they go.

Snow Mouse by Egg

Suitable for: 1 - 4 years

How many shows: one performance

Spring may be in full swing but this wintry tale is perfect for your littlest humans. The brilliant Egg in Bath released their magical 40-minute production of Snow Mouse on Vimeo for World Day of Theatre for Children in March and luckily it's still available to view online!

Enjoy this delightful story of a child who finds a sleeping mouse out in the snow, and their playful adventure through a whimsical winter wonderland together. They play and keep each other safe in the winter

Expect puppetry, original songs and plenty of play in this immersive production for under 5s.

Dive into the winter wonderland here.

The Wind in the Willows: The Musical

Suitable for: 6+ years

How many shows: one performance

Filmed in 2017 at the London Palladium, this musical production of The Wind in the Willows is great for families.

Join Mole, Ratty and Mr Toad as they get up to all sorts of mischief and mayhem in a hilarious woodland adventure. With a star-studded cast including Rufus Hound and Denise Welch, you can expect singing, dancing and loads of laughs.

We think this is the perfect show for a cooler day when all you want to do is snuggle up inside, so get cosy and settle down for a digital delight.

All you need to do to access the production is sign up for an account below using your email. It's free to stream but you're encouraged to give a small donation if you can.

Check out The Wind in the Willows: The Musical for free here.

Cirque du Soleil

Suitable for: 5+ years

How many shows: new performances added weekly

Join circus legends Cirque du Soleil as they release hour-long programmes of their best work every week using CirqueConnect, their new digital hub. Expect a jaw-dropping montage of performances from iconic shows like Amaluna, Bazzar and Volta.

Along with these longer performances, you can also get closer to the action than ever before with their virtual reality series here, both available on their YouTube channel.

With full performances, virtual reality and even a digital juggling lesson, CirqueConnect is a great way for families to get involved with Cirque du Soleil in a way they never have before.

Find all the performances and videos on CirqueConnect.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia Stone picture

Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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