Do all musicals begin with songs?
January 5, 2019 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Suddenly curious... Are there musicals that do not start with "opening numbers," but instead have one or more scenes without music and singing beforehand?
posted by one for the books to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Phantom of the Opera's auction was the first thing to spring to mind.
posted by Sequence at 10:36 PM on January 5 [11 favorites]

I think Jekyll and Hyde as well.
posted by rakaidan at 10:47 PM on January 5

Singin' in the Rain starts with a series of red carpet arrivals at a movie premiere and then an interview with Gene Kelly, which segues into a narrated flashback with music that isn't really an opening number. Link to the first few music-less minutes.
posted by trig at 10:54 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Fun Home begins with Alison Bechdel setting up the frame story, reflecting on hers and her father’s history to write the graphic novel that inspired the musical.
posted by lieber hair at 11:16 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

Dear Evan Hansen starts with a scene where Evan types a "Dear Evan Hansen" letter, followed by a short conversation with his mom before she launches into the first song.
posted by zachlipton at 12:45 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

Urinetown begins with Officer Lockstock and Little Sally talking to the audience and given some plot info the audience.
posted by firei at 5:53 AM on January 6

The Wizard of Oz has several scenes before singing, Peter Pan too. And Fiddler on the Roof. I think it's the norm and am having trouble thinking of things that really start with a song...I went to a performing arts high school but that was a long time ago now!
posted by jrobin276 at 6:04 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

Sunday in the Park with George has some hits from the orchestra while the scene is set but starts with a spoken scene before the first actual song begins.
posted by bcwinters at 6:15 AM on January 6

The Drowsy Chaperone
posted by cooker girl at 6:58 AM on January 6

The Music Man starts with (rhythmic) speech dialogue on a train.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:13 AM on January 6

And Fiddler on the Roof.

Fiddler starts with a very brief spoken introduction monologue set to music before segueing directly into the opening number.
posted by Jahaza at 8:14 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

posted by Melismata at 9:46 AM on January 6

Not exactly what you're looking for, but FYI Oklahoma was ***revolutionary*** when it first opened, for beginning with a single character singing a somewhat quiet song (Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'.) Prior to that, Broadway musicals always started with a splashy, loud song with lots of dancing girls, etc, to cover for the latecomers getting into their seats, audience settling down, etc.

Terry Gross just did a Fresh Air episode that mentions that in its day, Oklahoma was perceived as revolutionary, as fresh, and as much of a monster hit as Hamilton is today.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:11 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]

Fun Home does start with a song - it’s called “It All Comes Back/Opening.” And though it contains some (underscored) spoken dialog, it is very much an opening number.

Came in to say Phantom‘s auction scene.
posted by minervous at 11:43 AM on January 6

RENT starts with a short monologue.
posted by sueinnyc at 12:47 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

Bye Bye Birdie opens with Albert on the phone in his office.
posted by emelenjr at 1:48 PM on January 6

1776 starts with dialog.
posted by bryon at 10:09 PM on January 6

Evita starts in a cinema with film dialogue, where a film is interrupted so the house manager can announce the passing of Eva Peron.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:02 PM on January 7

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