My Favorite Climactic Songs From Musical Theatre 

Guten morgen, everyone! I’m running on very little sleep and thus my creativity is at a low, low point so I’m doing a very simple post today: a post about my top ten favorite climactic songs from musicals—songs that illustrate the peak of the story’s conflict. So… let’s get into that, shall we?

1. DIE SCHATTEN WERDEN LÄNGER (Reprise) (The Shadows Grow Longer) from ELISABETH – If done right, this song can be scary. And personally, my favorite version is with Mark Seibert as der Tod—it doesn’t really matter who plays Rudolf to me—because Mark just has a powerhouse voice and the way in which he drags Rudolf around is horrifying. Not to mention the utterly chilling lyrics in which der Tod practically is trying to persuade Rudolf to commit suicide. Uwe Kröger does a good job with this too though something about Mark’s performance just strikes me as more frightening whereas Uwe plays a slight more creepy der Tod. I think that there is a definite difference in scary and creepy and that’s definitely the difference between Mark and Uwe in this scene for me.

Mark Seibert as Death (left) and Rudolf (unsure who the actor is) in “Die Schatten Werden Länger”

2. MAISON DES LUNES from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – This song freaked me out as a kid. Still kinda does if I’m to be completely honest. I don’t know… something about the tune itself would horrify me as a child and when I first saw BEAUTY AND THE BEAST on stage, I was surprised by this scene. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t blink. Now, of course, my reaction is much milder but it still gives me chills when I hear it. And I think that just goes to show that it’s a really great “peak-of-conflict” song.

Maison des Lunes

3. DON’T FALL IN LOVE from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS – Man… so far all of these songs horrify me. This song now somewhat amuses me though before, it definitely, definitely, definitely scared the life out of me. Forte, the pipe organ who is the antagonist of this movie, was horrifying to me (and still kinda is). This song is totally underrated in the realm of Disney villain songs, I think. Man… it’s scary and super good at really showing what the conflict of the story really is.

Forte the Pipe Organ in Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas

4. MASQUERADE / WHY SO SILENT / TWISTED EVERY WAY from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Are we finally moving out of the downright scary zone of this post? Thank goodness! PHANTOM’s second act opens with a whole bunch of problems from the moment the Phantom crashes the masquerade party. And when it comes to the stage version, the Red Death costume is absolutely amazing. But… we’re not talking about costumes here. Essentially this whole sequence is conflict after conflict and man… it’s intense. And I love it.

“Masquerade” from Oberhausen, Germany production of PHANTOM

5. ONE DAY MORE from LES MISÉRABLES – Unlike the rest of the songs on this list (except one other), “One Day More” comes in at the end of Act I. I thought, for a while, about putting in one of the songs from Act II for my pick for LES MISÉRABLES, but I felt like “One Day More” was the most logical climactic song to pick. After all, it is essentially the peak of every character’s storyline. And so, that’s why I had to pick “One Day More”. “One Day More” is unique in the fact that it is the peak of not just the main protagonist’s story but of every other character that is around at this point and I think that’s awesome.

“One Day More” from the Australian production of LES MIZ

6. DEFYING GRAVITY from WICKED – “Defying Gravity” is that other song that’s right at the end of Act I. And while there is a case to be made that “Thank Goodness” or maybe “As Long as You’re Mine” should be the song on this list, I felt like “Defying Gravity” was the most logical pick in my mind because in the song, it addresses all of the main problems in WICKED and from this point, I think that everything just wraps itself up. I did, however, seriously think about putting “Thank Goodness”, “As Long as You’re Mine”, or maybe even “March of the Witch Hunters”.

Idina Menzel performing “Defying Gravity”

7. RACE: DOWNHILL FINAL from STARLIGHT EXPRESS – So… this was the obvious pick for STARLIGHT EXPRESS. The conflict is at a high level because Rusty’s about to go into the race, and then he goes into the race, and then he well… he wins the race. That was a horrible description, I know. But man… to see this scene live would be a dream, watching all of the actors zipping by on their roller skates, doing tricks and such.

The Race Sequence in STARLIGHT

8. TOTALE FINSTERNIS / CARPE NOCTEM (Total Darkness / Carpe Noctem) from TANZ DER VAMPIRE – “Totale Finsternis” is a great opener to TANZ DER VAMPIRE. Sarah’s at the castle and almost gets bitten by Krolock but he decides to wait and save her for the ball that’s to be held the following night. Which builds anxiety, of course. And then, we see Alfred and the Professor who are also in the castle. Alfred suffers through a nightmare in which Sarah gets bitten by bloodthirsty, murderous vampires. And man… these scenes together just work really, really well. We’re still quite a ways away from the actual occurrence of all of these events and for all we know, they might not even happen. Except for the fact that we kind of know that they will.

“Totale Finsternis” as performed in the Hamburg, Germany (?) production of TANZ DER VAMPIRE

9. HELLO, DOLLY! from HELLO, DOLLY! – So this is a really fun scene. Everyone’s happy to see Dolly but at the same time we know that Cornelius Hackle is going to have to find out how to pay the bill or get out of the restaurant without being arrested. And we also know that Mr. Vandergelder isn’t having a good time. It’s just an overall great scene and one that I just have a really great time watching.

Barbara Streisand as Dolly in the film version of HELLO, DOLLY!

10. AS LONG AS HE NEEDS ME from OLIVER! – There is an argument to be made that “Oom-Pah-Pah” might be the climactic song of OLIVER!, but somehow, I feel like “As Long as He Needs Me” is where we see the most problems presenting themselves. Nancy is convinced that Bill needs her and so she’s going to stick by him even though we all know that it can’t possibly end well. At all. Among other things.

Ruthie Henshall as Nancy in OLIVER!

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So, that’s all for me today! What are some of your favorite climactic scenes from musical theatre? Tschüss!

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6 thoughts on “My Favorite Climactic Songs From Musical Theatre 

      1. I remember the fourth time I saw Wicked, I saw it with my school and we were sitting about the very last three or four rows in the theatre. During Defying Gravity, I remember at one part Elphaba was blocked by the dragon’s claw so good thing I knew what was happening during that scene

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      2. Yeah, that’s the tough thing about sitting in the back of the theatre. Last time I saw Phantom, my mom and I were in the very last row for the first act so the Mirror scene was practically impossible to see. Luckily though, the whole 2nd mezzanine was practically empty and we asked the attendant if we could move up and she said it didn’t matter so we got a really good view of the whole 2nd act! “Masquerade” was especially stunning

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