The Five Best 11 O'Clock Numbers In Broadway History

Categories: Theater

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An 11 o'clock number is a song that comes toward the very end of a Broadway musical, when a leading character has a fit of emotion and pours it out in music.

It's a showstopper that's generally designed to give the tourists something to hum about when they leave.

My five faves in ascending order are:

5. "Lot's Wife" from Caroline, or Change

This is the maid character's gutsy variation of my number-one choice, which you find out about later. (I'll leave that for 11 o'clock.) Tonya Pinkins sang the living heck out of it.

4. "Fly, Fly, Away" from Catch Me If You Can

The con artist's girlfriend, played by Kerry Butler, sings this bittersweet lament, slightly reminiscent of the old pop tune "I Can't Live (If Living Is Without You)" -- with a mixture of guts and tenderness. I wanted to include something currently viewable.

3. "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie

This is a decisive number, a belt-out, a shake-the-rafters expression of pure need -- and it's lots of fun. Sutton Foster gave it her all and a half.

2. "Being Alive" from Company

Some say this is the finale, not the 11 o'clock number. I say it's both. It's a summation, a moving forward, and a heart-wrenching declaration of an urge to end loneliness. I've never heard a bad version of this one because the song itself is so damned good.

1. "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy

Duh.

Mama Rose's volcanic explosion craftily combines bits from songs you've already heard in the show, but with darker overtones, also adding new bits that combine for a harrowing breakdown every great star has longed to deliver.

I'd love to do it myself. This time for me! For me! For me!



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32 comments
Randy Noak
Randy Noak

"Make Them Hear You" -Brian Stokes Mitchell (RAGTIME)

bsomers
bsomers

"The Music that Makes Me Dance" from "Funny Girl""Another Winter in a Summer Town" from the underrated "Grey Gardens"

Ooh
Ooh

"One" is a finale, not an 11 o cock number.

Pietro
Pietro

CAROLINE...overrated.

"One" from A Chorus Line

"Loveland" from Follies (not quite an 11p number, more like a 10p-11p number but who could top it?

"Cabaret" now that you mention LM.

RUNAWAYS - Liz Swados did a chilling 11p number and not a musical number at all but a poem delivered with such intensity I can remember it 30+ years later.

BinI
BinI

Judy (Holliday, not Garland) doin' her best Jolson with "I'm Going Back (To Bonjour Tristesse Brassiere Company)"--with down on her knees "Send me mah mail there!" in "Bells Are Ringing."

Movielover
Movielover

Doubt this is 11:00 song, but the show stopper in How to Succeed in Business is the sassy secretary's song (or part in it) the Brotherhood of Man (I think it's called). Fun!

Musto
Musto

I'm mortified that I forgot "50 Percent." Loudon killed me with that every time. She sang it at one of the first AIDS benefits, in Fire Island, and had everyone sobbing. I always found it a metaphor for gay marriage. ("So there's no piece of paper saying that he's mine.")

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Amen for "50 Percent," shattering song, thrillingly sun by Dorothy Loudon.The night I saw it (when the closing notice was up), the audience nearly blew the roof off the theater .

Hey, and how about some Kander & Ebb in there -- the song "Cabaret," "Nowadays/The Hot Honey Rag," finale from ""Chicago," "Sing Happy" from "Flora, the Red Menace," etc.

"Rose's Turn" eclipses them all, of course.

WiscoJoe
WiscoJoe

"50 Percent" from Ballroom. Horrible show, great 11 o'clock.

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

Jennifer Holliday "And I Am Telling You" (Dreamgirls)-Stephanie Mills "Home" (The Wiz)

Umm "And I A m Telling You"...was the FIRST ACT closer (it took the audience's breath away when Ms Holliday sucked the air out of the theater for the last word)

Ahh...Stephanie...I saw her in DETROIT, pre-B'way, in this show and was blown away by this teenager!!

CoercinABull
CoercinABull

I've seen a number of productions of Gypsy and Company - I can't remember anyone (tourist or otherwise) humming either Being Alive or Rose's Turn. They go far beyond that.

Keating3232
Keating3232

Also, why does Michael Musto review everything on Broadway this month EXCEPT the masterpiece starring the Irish girl from Long Island playing a Bubbie (while auditioning for a Tony nomination)?

Keating3232
Keating3232

Anything from "Caroline, or Change" makes you lose points in my book.

Bibbi
Bibbi

Liza starring in a big movie musical in 2011? I sincerely doubt it. Zero box office.

ann onymous
ann onymous

greatest 11 o'clock numbers:-Jennifer Holliday "And I Am Telling You" (Dreamgirls)-Stephanie Mills "Home" (The Wiz)-Melba Moore "Easy to Be Hard" (Hair)-Patti Lupone "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (Evita)-Daphne Rubin-Vega "Out Tonight" (Rent)-Donna Mckechnie "Music and the Mirror" (Chorus Line)-Nell Carter "Mean to Me" (Ain't Misbehavin')

I heard that ALW is very close to casting Ms. Minnelli for the Sunset Blvd movie (much better choice than Hagdonna).

Timmie
Timmie

"I Know Where I'm Going" from Hairspray (technically not the second-to-last but who's counting "Hairspray" and "Cooties"?"If You Believe" is actually the 11 o'clock number in The Wiz, "Home" is the finale"Nothing's Gonna Harm You" from Sweeney Todd

Bibbi
Bibbi

"Betrayed" in the Producers is an attempt at a sort of Rose's Turn for Bialystock but ti doesn't quite come off.

Riff
Riff

Why didn't Liza ever play Mama Rose? Did they not want to invest in her? She always sang "Some People" in concert and hit it out of the park.

Gay Movie Fan
Gay Movie Fan

The Miller's Son from A Little Night MusicChildren Will Listen from Into the WoodsWhat's The Use from CandideIf He Walked Into My Life from MameSome Other Time from On The Town

Barnes
Barnes

"And I Am Telling You" is not an 11 O'clock number. There's a lot of show after that song.

Yeah, "Home" from The Wiz is a great one

Also "If He walked nto My Life" from Mame.

Abel
Abel

No argument about Number One, certainly. It is a great pity that Liza Minnelli never did Mama Rose. I think she would have brought something new and special to the role. Too late now, of course.

luigi3duran
luigi3duran

@Pietro The 11:00 Number From A Chorus Line Would Be "What I Did For Love"

Pietro
Pietro

Loved the waltz with all the couples and the disco ball snowstorm, or is that just my memory? BALLROOM is what I think Barbra should do.

Musto
Musto

Masterpiece? Ha ha. Anyway, I couldn't think of anything to say about it, truth be told!~!

ann onymous
ann onymous

she's got an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, Emmy, remember? (Babs already turned down Norma Desmond... bad move.....)

ann onymous
ann onymous

Lorna Luft played Mama Rose in a summer stock production in '02 and I heard she was excellent.

Rob in Philly
Rob in Philly

Her recording of Some People is rip roaringly wonderful.

Mims
Mims

Right and except for her recent special Tony, those were all in the 1970s!!!!!

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