There’s really nothing better than a brilliant act one closing number. Full of anticipation and excitement for the second act and a nice round up of the action so far, it’s sort of the musical theatre equivalent of an imperfect cadence; if that makes remotely any sense to you then I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m on about but if not then, well, it’s basically a musical comma – some unfinished business that the next part of the song will resolve. And so is the case with act one closing numbers – unfinished business! So here are my top five act one closing numbers. Needless to say I will probably think of some more once this post is published but maybe another day I can do a post titled Top 5 Act One Closing Numbers: the ones I forgot last time.
5. One Day More from Les Miserables
I’m not the biggest Les Mis fan, frankly I think there are far better musicals out there and although it’s a very important show in terms of musical theatre history, you’re not really missing out on much if you haven’t seen it (the controversy! How dare she say that!). But there’s no denying that a good ol’ sing song about going off to fight a revolution makes a great act one closing number and One Day More does just this. Here’s the Broadway cast on GMA so we can have a little lol at Ramin Karimloo’s wig and the guy desperately running behind them with the red flag at the end.
4. I’d Give My Life For You from Miss Saigon
There’s no denying that this really does leave you with that excited anticipation at the end of act one, ready to see what comes next but slightly worried as, you know, this song’s kind of depressing. The beautiful silhouette of Kim, the Engineer and Tam as they leave into the sun and the curtain comes down is really moving and Eva Noblezada’s performance has been faultless on both of the occasions where I’ve seen the new production, as it is in this Oliviers performance!
3. The Trial (Finale Act 1) from Parade
Well, technically the whole finale is about half an hour long and I’m not sure that really counts as a closing number! I’m just going to link the last two parts: It’s Hard To Speak My Heart (Leo’s Statement) and Summation & Cakewalk. I’ve recently become obsessed with this show after discovering the wonder that is composer Jason Robert Brown; it’s really different to anything I’ve heard before and I’d love the chance to be able to see it one day. But alas, I was not in New York for the recent concert production of the show so I will have to live with poor (pretty much unwatchable) quality YouTube clips instead. Leo’s Statement is utterly heartbreaking and its juxtaposition with the jubilant music and cheers of the townspeople as they find him guilty makes it all the more upsetting. Oh and I love that return of the melody from The Old Red Hills Of Home! Expertly done, JRB.
2. Santa Fe from Newsies
The most perfect song of all time (maybe) could not be denied a place in my top five act one closing numbers, so here it is: Santa Fe from Newsies. Something about that last note really gets me every time – flawlessly delivered by Jeremy Jordan here (as usual). The only thing I don’t like about this is that the show has not yet arrived in London. Stop teasing us with rumours, Disney! It’s time you make up your minds, book your stupid theatre and get it on! I don’t need another jukebox musical Broadway transfer, I need Newsies!
1. Defying Gravity from Wicked
Obviously. Everything about this is so epic; the lighting, the vocals, the dramatic lifting up of a witch with a broom. What could be better than that? I love this version too, firstly the quality is great and secondly Donna Vivino makes a brilliant Elphaba! I didn’t know until recently she’d played the role (perhaps I was too busy being upset because she got between Penny and Aaron on Submissions Only) but this version is incredible. I’ve seen the show twice – firstly with Willemijn Verkaik who’s performance of this actually made me cry (something my dear friend Sean continues to mock me for to this day), and secondly with Kerry Ellis who was, unsurprisingly, brilliant.
Well, there you have it! My favourite act one closing numbers as of today, Wednesday 25th March 2015. I’d be interested to come back to this in the future and see if any of these have changed (it’s highly likely that they will), so watch out for that. I really enjoyed writing this and I’m planning on doing my top five opening numbers next so stay tuned (ugh, cringe) next week (it probably won’t be next week) folks!