12 Amazing Broadway Act One Finales

12 Amazing Broadway Act One Finales

This is where a musical truly shines!

A strong opening is essential, but the most important song in an entire musical, is the act one finale. Immediately afterwards is intermission, so this piece has to convince the audience not to use the next fifteen minutes as a chance to leave the theatre! They do this by grabbing the audience's interest with a showtune that changes the story, makes people wonder what will happen next, and proves itself to be the best song on the album.

1. "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going" – Dreamgirls

Some act one finales take a previously happy story and turn the emotions on its head. At the midpoint of Dreamgirls, as the Dreams rise to fame, Effie is suddenly kicked out of the group, abandoned by her friends, family, and lover. Her denial ("and you-- and you-- you're gonna love me!") ends the act, and breaks our hearts, and definitely keeps us around for act two.

2. "Everything’s Coming Up Roses" – Gypsy

"They think that we're through--but, baby..." Rose very deliberately changes the game on the audience in this song, showing us just how far she is willing to go to pursue her dreams, and making us wonder if Louise will ever escape her control. The only way to find out is keep watching!

3. "Go, Go, Go Joseph" – Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

There are also act one finales that take a sad story, and make it happier. Joseph is at his lowest point, thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit, after being sold into slavery by his brothers. Cue the massive chorus pep talk: "Hang on now, Joseph, you'll make it someday!"

4. "Shoot the Moon" – The Spitfire Grill

The Spitfire Grill, though beautiful, has a gloomy first act. There is very little hope in the town of Gilead. But hope comes in the act one finale, in the form of sacks of letters from all over the nation, and it's hard not to join in as the cast celebrates. "Comes a time to shoot the moon / Strike it while the iron's hot!"

5. "Climb Ev’ry Mountain" – The Sound of Music

Remember when I said that the act one finale is often the best song on the album? Well, it's hard to play favorites with the full-of-beloved-songs The Sound of Music, but few songs anywhere are more beautiful than this one. "Climb ev'ry mountain / Ford ev'ry stream / Follow ev'ry rainbow / Til you find your dream!"

6. "Grizabella" – Cats

While we're talking about best songs, let's just say that there's a reason that most people remember the lyrics to "Memory" over any other song from the musical Cats. What you might not remember is that this song is actually sung in two parts, and the first part closes the first act in gorgeous fashion. "I remember the time I knew what happiness was, / Let the memory live again."

7. "Defying Gravity" – Wicked

I'm just gonna let this song stand for itself. It doesn't matter what your opinion is of this musical--if all you heard was this song, it would bring you back after intermission. "I think I'll try defying gravity / And you can't pull me down!"

8. "Non-Stop" – Hamilton

While looking up amazing act one finales, I found another kind of finale, one which reprises previous songs and both summarizes previous plot moments and carries the story forward. Hamilton does this beautifully, bringing the entire cast onstage to comment on Alexander's ambitious climb. "Man, the man is non-stop!"

9. "One Day More" – Les Misérables

Les Misérables finishes its first act in a similarly grand fashion, by having the entire cast come together to sum up their worries and motivations as they await "one more dawn, one more day" - which, of course, will only come after intermission is done!

10. "Ever After" – Into the Woods

It would be easy to mistake the act one finale of Into the Woods for the finale of a one-act musical, as the cast wraps up all the individual plots, reminisces about their journeys, and celebrates having finally achieved their wishes. But, then the Narrator turns to the audience and says, "To be continued!" - letting the audience know that there is, in fact, more to see.

11. "There’s a Fine, Fine Line" – Avenue Q

It's accurate to say that all act one finales do something unexpected. Sometimes this unexpected thing is a change of mood. Avenue Q is a phenomenally hilarious, light-hearted show, but it ends its first act with a heart-wrenching break-up song. "For my own sanity, I've gotta close the door and walk away!" It makes the audience think, "Where the heck did that come from? How are they going to get out of this?"

12. "Who I’d Be" – Shrek the Musical

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this might just be my favorite showtune. I can say from personal experience that it was what kept me in the theatre during intermission to see what happened next. It's absolutely gorgeous. "A perfect happy ending / that's how it should be!"

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Popular Right Now

​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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