Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 44 – First Act Finales II

In the last blog I talked about how important Act One finales are.  And I listed some of my favorites that are sung by groups of actors.  Now it’is time to talk about Act One finales that end with just one actor on the stage.

It takes a brave composing team to create an end of the act number with just a solo actor singing.  And It takes an actor who is also a star.  Even if the number is good, having an incredible actor sing that song is equally important.  Here are my favorites:

barbra“Don’t Rain on My Parade” from FUNNY GIRL.  We all know it.  We all can see,  in our mind, the shot from the movie of Barbra on the tug boat. Even though this is Fanny’s seventh number in the show, she ends the act singing a very difficult song. Click here to watch one of my favorite versions of the song sung by Lillias White at a concert for Actors Fund Benefit.

anthem“Anthem” from CHESS belongs on this list, even though it was not sung by a star (other than when Josh Groban sang it another Actors Fund Benefit).  I have seen the show three times (including the original Broadway production….yes, it is true) and I remember humming that song for days after the performances.

When Jennifer Holliday was contracted for the workshop of DREAMGIRLS, she was only 19.  And then she made history when she ended the first act with “And I Am Telling You,”  Frank Rich wrote of her performance that  “her voice rises into a strangled cry.”  Her performance on the Tony Awards is arguably one of the best solo performances in the history of that telecast.

elphabaLet’s end with ‘Defying Gravity” from WICKED.  It starts as a duet, but ends as a solo. And during a five second orchestral interlude, Elphaba is strapped into “that thing” as Ms. Menzel once referred to it.  The song rises again, and so does the character, into the sky, into the audience, into the future!  She sings – no, she shrieks: no one is “ever gonna bring me down!”

Applause, applause, applause.

Now, lets all go the the bathroom and get a snack.  See you all at Act 2.

Larry Little

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