Imagine this: it’s five minutes before the interval.
You’ve had some great numbers in the opening half, but you need one last big one to hit the audience before interval. Because that’s a crucial time: people will grab some ice cream, go to the toilets and discuss what they think of your show.
Well, not all at once…or hopefully in that order…
You want to get them hooked before the second act, so that they they’ll be singing some of their favourite songs in the never-ending toilet queue.
Thus the pre-break-medley-of-all-the-catchy-songs-from-the-first-act-in-one-big-group-number was born. Couldn’t think of what the actual term was. Medley? Croscendo? It’s a medley, right? Personally I think ‘pre-break-medley-of-all-the-catchy-songs-from-the-first-act-in-one-big-group-number’ could catch on if not!
This is one of my favourite moments in musicals: a chance to recap the first half and get some of those songs back in your head. So here are a few of my favourite ones from recent years and feel free to add yours at the bottom (as I’m sure I’ve missed some obvious ones!)
Book of Mormon– ‘Man Up’
This was the first one which popped into my head when I first thought up this feature. And it’s a classic. It has bits from some of my favourite songs ever, plus some new, equally hilarious lines.
Man Up? Good.
Salt Lakeah City? Good.
‘More to the point why do you let bad things happen to me?’ Good.
I HAVE MAGGOTS IN MY SCROTUM
In the Heights– ‘Blackout’
First appearance of a Lin Manuel Miranda musical here.
Can you possibly guess what the other will be!
I saw the London production of this a few months ago, and seeing this number live was incredible. You have all this energy, then silence…BLACK OUT! And then all these echoes come out of the dark: ‘Look at the fireworks’, ‘You’re not alone tonight’, ‘We are powerless’, and then ‘In Washington Heights’!
Great dramatic timing!
Les Misérables– One Day More
THE medley song, aka the-one-it’s-impossible-to-sing-by-yourself-BUT-THAT-WON’T-STOP-YOU-FROM-TRYING!
This one again is similar to ‘Blackout’, as it primarily comprises of bits from this one song. But literally every character gets to sing something. No. Literally. And by ‘everyone’, I mean everyone on stage. Not in the audience. No matter how rousing it may be. Even now I’m hearing it my head while writing this and resisting the urge to break into…
One day more another day another destiny, this never ending road to cavalry. This man who seems to know my crime will surely come a second time. One day more, I did not live until today, how can I live when we are parted? One day more, TOMORROW YOU’LL BE WORLDS AWAY, and yet with you my world has started. One more day all on my own, WILL WE EVER MEET AGAIN, one more day with him not caring, I WAS BORN TO BE WITH YOU, and a life I might have known, and I swear I will be true, but he never saw me therrrrRRRRRRRE. One more day before the storm, do I follow where she goes, and the barricades of freedom, shall I join my brothers there? When our ranks begin to fall, do I stay do I dare? Will you take your place with meeeeeEEEEEEEE, THE TIME IS NOW, THE DAY IS HERE! ONE DAY MORE, ONE DAY MORE TIL REVOLUTION WE WILL NIP IT IN THE BUD, WE’LL BE READY FOR THESE SCHOOL BOYS THEY WILL WET THEMSELVES WITH BLOO-ONE DAY MORE, WATCH ‘EM RUN AMOK, CATCH ‘EM AS THEY FALL, NEVER KNOW YOUR LUCK WHEN THERE’S A FREE FOR ALL, here a little nip there a little touch, most of ’em are gonners so they won’t miss much! ONE DAY TIL A NEW BEGINNING, EVERY MAN WILL BE A KING, EVERY MAN WILL BE A KING, THERE’S A NEW WORLD TO BE WON, DO YOU HEAR THE PEOPLE SING?! My place is here, I fight with yoooooOOOOUUUUUUUUUUU! ONE DAY MORE, ONE DAY MORE TIL REVOLUTION, *HIGH PITCHED COSSETTE SINGING* WE WILL KNOW THE THINGS-ONE DAY MORE! WATCH ‘EM RUN AMOK, CATCH EM AS THEY FALL *MORE HIGH PITCHED COSSETTE SINGING* TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY, TOMORROW IS THE JUDGEMENT DAY, TOMORROW WE’LL DISCOVER WHAT OUR GOD IN HEAVEN HAS IN STORE, ONE MORE DAWN, ONE MORE DAY, ONE DAY MORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!
So yes, a tad rousing.
Hamilton– ‘Non Stop’
Or as I like to call it: the new Les Mis medley.
I mean just look at it. These are the lyrics:
Firstly, imagine trying to learn that harmony and secondly, IMAGINE TRYING TO WRITE THAT HARMONY?!
Hamilton is uniquely situated by virtue of its position, in that every song except one either references or is referenced in another song. Except for ‘Farmer Refuted’, unless I’m mistaken. So basically the whole thing is a massive medley. Which I love.
And it all comes to a head in ‘Non Stop’. It has echoes of its own song, echoes of songs before, echoes of songs to come. And it sounds amazing. History has its eyes on you, Non stop, you could never be satisfied, history has its eyes on you, why do you write like history has its eyes on you. I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT, just you wait, I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT, I AM ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JUST YOU WAIIIIIIIT, I AM NOT THROWING!
Wicked– ‘Defying Gravity’
While not as packed full as Miranda’s score with dozens of different voices, you get a couple of echoes in Wicked‘s climactic Act 1 number: ‘I hope you’re happy’, ‘no one mourns the wicked’.
With ‘Blackout’ you feel quite energised as you enter the interval.
With ‘Defying Gravity’, I felt utterly drained. It’s so cathartic with this outpouring of emotion. It gives me chills every time I listen to it.
And that final note!