Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs the Most Iconic Endings of Broadway Showtunes

Seth Rudetsky   Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs the Most Iconic Endings of Broadway Showtunes
The opening of a song sets the tone, but from fade-outs to buttons the orchestral endings determine the audience’s reaction.

Though Seth Rudetsky’s deconstructions usually focus on one song or performer, this week the actor-musician continues to break new ground in the reboot of his Playbill video series.

Last time, Rudetsky debuted his first video deconstruction, and this week, he focuses on five different types of orchestral endings to quintessential musical theatre numbers. The “button” is probably the most well-known (and classic) musical theatre ending—that big note on the final downbeat of a song used to close the tune neatly and completely. In the video above, Rudetsky talks about more than the button; he’s obssessed with the endings of songs, the last eight bars after the melody and the lyrics end.

In Rudetsky’s opinion, it’s this orchestration that makes the difference between tepid golf claps and uproarious applause. Beginning with Guys and Dolls’ “If I Were a Bell” and taking us through War Paint’s “Face to Face,” Rudetsky points out five types of musical theatre endings ranging from the bizarre to the delicious: awkward strings, the pop fade-out, sassy brassy, sassy syncopation, and the terrifying half step.

You’ll never hear the end of a song the same way again.

If you love Seth Rudetsky and Broadway, get thee on a the theatre lover's perfect getaway: the Playbill cruise. Rudetsky brings his signature humor and expertise to Playbill Travel’s Broadway on the Danube River with Michael Feinstein, sailing in Europe November 3–13. Rudetsky serves as music director and Chatterbox host, leading a star-studded lineup that includes Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), Julia Murney (Wicked), Christopher Fitzgerald (Waitress), Marc Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Christopher Sieber (Spamalot), Brandon Uranowitz (Falsettos), and a special engagement by Michael Feinstein. For more information and booking inquiries, visit

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