Musicals Thread (Act One Closers)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. I post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to, but you are always more than welcome to discuss other topics! This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

It’s rare that I find a picture as perfect for the header as this one, taken from The New York Times review of the 2017 production of Sunday in the Park with George. Because the picture was so good, I looked into the photographer, Sara Krulwich, and it turns out that she won a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater in 2018 for her work. I spent a while this morning just looking at her photographs, so that was fun! Anyway, back to business…This week we have another wonderful thread written by Lydia! As always, if anyone would like to write a special prompt or a feature of any kind for this thread, just let me know. 

While some musicals plow right through from beginning to end with no breaks, many give the performers and audience a rest at intermission. Before that, however, they have to decide where the best place to pause the action is. On a cliffhanger? Before a big time skip? Immediately following a reveal or twist? How to temporarily wrap up the story and prime us for where it will go next? Often Act 1 ends on a major emotional high (or low) point, supplying enough drama or spectacle to tide us over for 15 minutes while still piquing our interest in whatever Act 2 has in store. What’s your favorite Act 1 closer?

Mine is “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George. According to our leading man, a fictionalized version of the painter Georges Seurat, an artist’s task is to bring disparate elements into order and harmony. Here he does just that, rearranging the people in his life and their environment, revising the world as he promised to do in an earlier song. The number begins softly and gradually grows in grandeur. George’s previously frantic singsong mutterings – “bum-bum-bum, bum-bum-bum bum-bum-bum” – are now gentle and controlled. I love taking part in his elation and triumph at the achievement of his vision, and in the perfect peace of the scene he assembles. The lyrics are, in a way, simple – describing the composition of his painting. They also, however, reference the transcendence and timelessness – indeed, Eternity – that many an artist has hoped to convey through their work. The sequence is a reminder of what beauty the cast and creators are capable of and leaves me eager for even more to see.