Musicals Thread (Act Two Openers)

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!

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. 

Perhaps the only moment in a show to rival the beginning in terms of excitement and anticipation is the end of intermission. After a chance to recover from the emotional roller coaster of Act 1, the audience is ready to settle in for the home stretch and accompany the characters to the end of their journey. The first number of the second act may remind us of what we learned earlier and pick up right where we left off, or it may inform us of events that took place since then while we were taking a stretch in the theater lobby (or just switching the CD player to Disc 2). It may be a restatement of the show’s themes, with or without a twist. Whatever its narrative purpose, though, it also serves to welcome us back to the world of the story after our brief recess in reality.  

My favorite such welcome is “Side by Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You?” from Company. The whole show revolves around discussion of the value of commitment, particularly of marriage, through the character Bobby (or Bobbie, in a 2018 production). As the second act opens, Bobby insists that he is happy playing third wheel to the couples he knows, and they all agree that it’s a perfect arrangement, providing examples through Stephen Sondheim’s exquisite lyrics (“Should there be a marital squabble/Available Bob’ll/Be there with the glue!”). The number grows more and more lively, but as it does it betrays a sort of desperation to be satisfied with the status quo. Bobby recognizes that he’s purposefully chosen to keep his friendships more or less superficial, but still fears anything more substantial. I love that sort of dissonance in storytelling – an internal conflict heading towards its breaking point. 

What’s your favorite Act 2 opener?