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Student Blog: My Top Ten Favorite Musical Theatre Finales

Fun and Fresh Finales!

Student Blog: My Top Ten Favorite Musical Theatre Finales In my opinion, the ending of a show is just as important as the beginning. When you are sitting in a theatre watching a musical, of course the Opening Number and Act 1 finale are stand-out moments, but I feel like many finales are often brushed over or not fully appreciated. The finale is the final kiss goodbye to an audience and is the last chance to make an impression on viewers.

Whether it be a large dance number, a touching duet, or a beautiful ensemble number- the finale has the ability to set the tone of the show. I remember when I was growing up and doing Musical Theatre as a kid, I always loved the final number of a show. I loved performing in them, watching them, and listening to them on the Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack. The magical energy that these musical numbers posses is contagious and always follows the audience home. It can leave the audience with something to think about, something to humm, and something to talk about once they leave the theatre. All in all, they are my favorite parts of the show.

To clarify, I am not a music genius or self-prescribed expert on theatre songs and their structure. I am just a mega fan of theatre finales, and these are my favorite! Here is the list of my top 10 favorite finale songs:

10. Beauty and the Beast: End Duet/Transformation into the Beauty And The Beast (Reprise)

This is such a feel-good final song. The romantic essence that comes through with Belle's line of: "I found home, you're my home, stay with me" is simply magical. It is such a raw and emotional moment as they say I love you for the first time. Naturally this is on the list because younger Jaclyn was obsessed with Disney and Beauty and the Beast (... and still is...). I also love the accompaniment music done by the orchestra in this final number of the show, as it is so grand and light. As the two protagonists begin to sing their love to each other and the ensemble fills in with a glorious harmony and the music swells, the theater is filled with such a glorious and magnificent energy. Truly memorable and left me leaving the show with such a warm feeling.

9. Six The Musical: Six (into Megasix)

I was so fortunate to be able to see this show live while it was in previews right before the pandemic shut Broadway down. The finale into the encore of this musical was probably my favorite part of the show. The energy that filled the theater was infectious and practically everyone was dancing along in their seats. It left the audience with a great feeling of excitement and the song was certainly stuck on repeat in my head for days after. It's catchy, lively, and vocally thrilling. (Link to Megasix).

8. Kinky Boots: Raise You Up/ Just Be

The energy and vibes of this song are PHENOMENAL. From the dancing to the fabulous music and lyrics, it is such a fun and high energy final number. It also leaves the audience with such a good reminder of the moral of the story to consider and share once they leave the theater. The "Price and Simon" secret to success, complete with six steps, is such a great message to leave with audiences- all about acceptance, love, and being open-minded. "Never let them tell you who you ought to be" and "celebrate your life triumphantly" are two of my favorite lines from the finale and share a beautiful message.

7. In the Heights: Finale

The beginning of this song, starting with the record scratch and a song heard earlier in the show, was the first thing to draw me in and stood out to me. I love a good flashback to a moment earlier within a show, as it helps to pull things together and connect concepts. The journey that this song takes audiences on as Usnavi realizes that he doesn't need to leave in order to feel at "home". He has found home within his community in Washington Heights, which is such a beautiful and important concept. Additionally, the music, lyrics, and use of repetition and rounds in the music are jaw-dropping. This song was so well crafted and the perfect kiss goodbye. The harmonies behind Usnavi's rap about finding his island at the end are also gorgeous. Such an amazing swell and creates a beautiful and contagious energy for the audience. It is also such a fun song to belt and dance to in the car.

6. Come From Away: Finale

When I saw Come From Away for the first time, I was blown away by the music and storyline. The final number is a beautiful kiss goodbye to the show as it takes the audience through a "where are they now" sequence for all of the main characters of the show. I love the beginning statement that they say at the start of the song "because we come from everywhere we all come from away". This sets such a nice tone for the ending of the show as the characters reflect on our ability to come together in a time of need. I also love the harmonies and accompaniment of this song, as it is so powerful and direct. My favorite part though has to be the moment in the song where they begin to re-state the beginning monologue "on the northeast tip of North America..". It is a great flashback to the beginning of the show and pulls everything together beautifully.

5. Once On This Island: Why We Tell the Story

This song is simple yet filled with so much joy and energy. It is a beautiful ending to the show, featuring tunes and phrases from other songs in the show- helping to connect the different ideas and moments. The repetition of the phrase "why we tell the story" is a powerful statement and helps illustrate the moral of the story. "Life is why... pain is why... faith is why... you are why". When I saw the revival of Once on This Island at the Circle in the Square Theatre, I absolutely loved this final number. It filled me with an amazing sense of community and warmth. Additionally, the final harmony is gorgeous and a perfect ending to the song.

4. Hamilton: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

We all knew this had to be on the list. It is truly one of the most iconic finale numbers there is within the musical theatre canon. From the music to the lyrics to the flashback moments to other parts of the show- it is quite honestly a genius piece of work. Every character sharing what an impact Hamilton's work had on the future of America is such a cool way to end off the story, as the concept of this song is the people who live on after we are gone who will tell our stories to future generations. "And when you're gone who remembers your name, who keeps your flame, who tells your story"- like... what?! Amazing. Also the moment the song is passed to Eliza and she shares how she "put herself back in the narrative" is a gorgeous and tear-drawing moment. The swell of the music and the chilling final harmonies make this song a beautiful ending to the show.

3. Hair: The Flesh Failures/ Eyes Look Your Last/ Let the Sunshine In

When Hair premiered on Broadway, it changed the musical theatre "game". It was new and different from what people were used to seeing on the stage. New music, new ideas, new dancing. It was risky and controversial- which makes it so great. I don't want to spoil the ending of the show for anyone who hasn't seen it, but the final number of this song is so powerful within the context of the plot and on its own. The accompaniment is steady with the guitar and constant drum beats, but it provides such a solid background for the fabulous vocals done by the ensemble. The song ends with the repetition of the line: "Let the sunshine in", which is glorious and beautiful. It leaves the audience with a lasting impact, as the music cuts out and the remainder of the song is acapella. I haven't had a chance to see this awesome show in person yet, but I am obsessed with the 2009 Broadway Cast Recording and listen to it constantly.

2. Next to Normal: Light

Next to Normal fully got me through my Freshman year of high school. It is such a powerful and enlightening story, featuring complex characters and intricate accompaniments. The ending of this show fully encompasses the main idea of the show- how we must find the light in our lives and keep fighting and moving forward. This show features some intense moments and heavy topics, and I think this number is the perfect way to kiss the audience goodbye. It is upbeat and memorable. One of my favorite lines of this song is: "Day after day, day after day, we'll find the will to find our way, knowing that the darkest skies will someday see the sun." The lyrics are so well written and I left the theatre heavily impacted after this beautiful song.

1. Les Misérables: Finale/Epilogue

I am absolutely obsessed with this song. It nicely wraps up the ending of the story (which I don't want to spoil- but if you don't know Les Mis you should give it a listen!) while leaving the audience with such a powerful and grand energy. After the beautiful lyric "To love another person is to see the face of God", the ensemble begins to sing a gorgeous reprise of "Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men...". As they sing, the music slowly begins to swell and the voices grow louder and louder in a triumphant harmony. I could go on and on about this final number and how it is amazing technically, vocally, and visually- but I will spare you the ten page paper. It is amazing on the cast album and even more spectacular if you are able to experience it in person. 24601/10.

That's my list! I hope you enjoyed reading about me geeking out over musical theatre finales.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Jaclyn Hansen