Unbalanced Musicals

Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 10:10am
What are some of the musicals that you think are unbalanced, meaning one act seems more heavy than the other.

For example, Oklahoma has most of it's songs in Act 1 and Act 2 is just "frilly" songs.

Cabaret is another example. Act 1 is overloaded with songs and then Act 2 seems like "we're done here, let's just try and tie up the loose ends."
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 10:13am
My two favorite songs in Cabaret are in Act 2: What Would You Do? is my favorite song and I do like Cabaret.

I actually think that as much as I love the score of Les Mis, it really suffers from this. (Part of that is where the intermission is though-I'd have put it after "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and opened act 2 with "In My Life".)
Updated On: 8/5/14 at 10:13 AM
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 10:24am
"(Part of that is where the intermission is though-I'd have put it after "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and opened act 2 with "In My Life".)"

I've struggled with this. The first time I saw Les Miz, I was ready to get up at the end of "Do You Hear The People Sing" but the lights didn't go up and I realized we had to sit through the Montage. They've created a false ending. Although I do see why they break it at "One Day More". It's a difficult call.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Alix
Broadway Star
joined:9/10/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 10:36am
"My two favorite songs in Cabaret are in Act 2: What Would You Do? is my favorite song and I do like Cabaret."

Those two are great, of course, and "If You Could See Her" has become one of my favorite moments in the show in this revival.

At the moment I canít think of any show that doesnít follow this pattern, at least to some extent. Can anyone think of a show that actually has more songs in the second act, or in which the second act is longer than the first?
"The world only spins forward." ~ 'Angels in America'
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 10:59am
Sunset Boulevard is another one. I think there are three new songs in Act 2, but everything else is reprise. So in a sung-through musical, Act 2 is pretty unbalanced.

If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Updated On: 8/5/14 at 10:59 AM
Rinaldo
Understudy
joined:5/5/09
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 11:24am
"Can anyone think of a show that actually has more songs in the second act, or in which the second act is longer than the first? "

I haven't counted the songs or minutes, but I think She Loves Me has the two acts at least equal. Act II is all new songs (no reprises till the short finale), and there are a lot of them: almost all the secondary leads get a solo each (Try Me, A Trip to the Library, Grand Knowing You), Ilona and Georg get the 1-2-3 of Where's My Shoe / Ice Cream / She Loves Me, and we transition into the last scene with Twelve Days to Christmas. Plus the the scenes in which these numbers are embedded are substantial (and entertaining) too. It may be as ideally balanced between acts as any musical can be.
daredevil
Stand-by
joined:8/17/05
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 11:47am
Ten years ago I saw Caroline of Change, on Broadway. The first act seemed to be a series of statements about the time, with very little emotional connection. The second act, especially with the entrance of the step-mother's socialist father, seemed to galvanize and center the action, and lead up to the intense conclusion of the musical.
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 11:50am
Though there are 7 great songs in Act II of She Loves Me (plus 2 reprises), the first act has 16!! It's structured like every other show of the period with a 90 minute first half and 60 minute second half.

I could be sticking my neck out here, but I don't think there's a single show that's come to Broadway where Act II is longer than Act I. However you DO have anomalies like the 3-act Anyone Can Whistle or The Most Happy Fella that defy comparison with the 2-act structure.
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 12:57pm
Sunset Boulevard is another one. I think there are three new songs in Act 2, but everything else is reprise. So in a sung-through musical, Act 2 is pretty unbalanced.

It's the same formula he used with Phantom of the Opera, though it bothers me less in Sunset Boulevard for some reason.

Sunday in the Park With George is another that drives me crazy. The second act is so ballad-heavy, it gets very tedious for me after Putting It Together.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 01:00pm
Titanic. The first act is brilliant. After it hits the iceberg it sinks.

Updated On: 8/5/14 at 01:00 PM
g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 01:01pm
^ Ha!
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

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Auggie27
Broadway Legend
joined:10/13/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 01:10pm
"Zorba." Act Two has four new songs, then a return to the framing device, the reprised "Life Is." I love the score, but still feel the show (as a whole) is slightly under-composed.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Gary Shandling
AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 01:23pm
My Fair Lady can be balanced out more a bit by cutting the Embassy Ball sequence. It doesn't add much to the show except for another costume and scenery showcase. The main purpose of thes scene, Karpathy's questioning of Eliza, happens after the curtain comes down and is completely recapped at the top of Act 2 in "You Did It"

I've worked on a production that ended Act 1 with Higgins and Eliza leaving for the ball and very few audience members noticed the scene was missing, and were probably happy to get to the bathroom sooner, that first act is probably the longest I've worked on in the 15 years I've been working professionally. Without the scene the act still clocked in just barely shy of 90 minutes, as I recall. I'm working on a production now with the scene in tact and our Act 1 is running 98 minutes.
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 02:42pm
I would say that most ALW shows do this, as he has a tendency to write a couple of songs at the very beginning of the creative process, and once those are all used up, lots of reprises and third rate songs get used.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Mr. Nowack
Broadway Star
joined:2/2/14
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 02:48pm
Didn't I read somewhere that CABARET was originally 3 acts? Act 1 would have ended with "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" and act two would end where act one ends now.
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Alix
Broadway Star
joined:9/10/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 03:05pm
^^ Yes, according to this article.

Link
"The world only spins forward." ~ 'Angels in America'
mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 05:16pm
comment deleted
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Updated On: 8/5/14 at 05:16 PM
Elfuhbuh
Stand-by
joined:3/23/14
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 05:22pm
Wicked is a huge culprit. Act 1 is clever with all the university life and whatnot, but then in Act 2 the story just kind of starts flying all over the place. (And I say this as a fan of the show.)
Anthony Fremont
Stand-by
joined:6/16/10
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 05:47pm
My Favorite Year. I love it to death, but there is such a huge difference in tone between the acts. It quite literally starts with a bang and ends with a whisper.
qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 06:05pm
Anyone Can Whistle at Encores!
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 06:24pm
Most shows still follow a three act sensibility even when there's only one intermission. You can often imagine where a first break would be placed. The material after the single intermission is the traditional "third act" which ties up the plot. Since action is the focus of the last section, there's less room for songs unless they carry plot. The audience, during the first two "acts" before the single break, will tolerate material that sets up character and theme. After the intermission, it's time to see how the narrative and character-oriented questions get answered.
Sondheim shows, post-Prince, like Assassins, Sunday in the Park, and even Into the Woods, often became more interested in non-traditional structures where the last section doesn't relate much to the plot of the first, but is even more focused on theme.
Charley Kringas Inc
Stand-by
joined:8/12/11
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 06:25pm
Pacific Overtures has always felt this way - the first act has more than twice as many numbers as the second, and is probably twice as interesting, too. Merrily has a similar issue, wherein all the interesting, explosive stuff happens in the first act, and then in act two it struggles to be as captivating or dramatic.

On the other end, I'd have to say Evita is one of the most well-balanced musicals out there; it never stops being engaging, and the act II numbers are just as fun as act I's (though any production that cuts the montage is doing the right thing).
chrisampm2
Broadway Star
joined:5/26/07
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 07:04pm
Charley, I think the second act (which of course is really the first) of Merrily is blissfully captivating. The characters get capable of joy. Opening Doors, Good Thing Going, Our Time are as good as it gets.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 07:30pm
"My Fair Lady can be balanced out more a bit by cutting the Embassy Ball sequence."

The '93 revival actually moved the Embassy Ball sequence to the beginning of Act 2.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 08:11pm
"Ilona and Georg get the 1-2-3 of Where's My Shoe / Ice Cream / She Loves Me, and we transition into the last scene with Twelve Days to Christmas."

Friendly amendment, Rinaldo, that should read "Amalia and Georg...."
Rinaldo
Understudy
joined:5/5/09
Unbalanced Musicals
Posted: 8/5/14 at 09:16pm
Urg, yes of course! My meaning was clear anyway, but my fingers apparently had a mind of their own, and that's embarrassing. Thanks much, henrikegerman.

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