"This Time For Me": The Essential 11 O'Clock Numbers

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19 Jul 2014

Playbill.com correspondent Ben Rimalower offers a collection of the most exciting 11 o'clock numbers from Broadway musicals.

The 11 o'clock number is the greatest misnomer in musical theatre. In the old days, when showtime was 8:30 (or 8:45), 11 PM was just when things were about to start wrapping up and the 11 o'clock number could kill a few birds with one stone. First and foremost, the 11 o'clock number was an invigorating highlight to leave the audience delighted at the end of the show, a memorable melody they could leave the theatre humming, and often something of an up tune to brighten their mood.

As book musicals became more character-driven, the 11 o'clock number was when the main character might have the realization or change-of-heart to bring the story to a close. In the Lehman Engel/BMI Workshop model for musicals, you could think of the 11 o'clock number as the bookend to the character's Act One "I want" song. Of course, lots of songs have occupied the 11 o'clock space (or 10:15 as it tends to happen nowadays) and they can't be all things to all people.

Click through to read my selections for the top eleven o'clock numbers.


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