Musical Theatre Overtures, An Obituary

I love musical theatre overtures, I bloody love them. They just make me giddy with joy. But why don’t we have them anymore? It might have something to do with the fact that orchestras aren’t as full as they used to be, so considering they won’t be performed in their full and rich glory no one bothers? I write that as if I was alive during the golden ages of musicals. But sadly not. Their legacy largely remains through the existence of cast recordings, but essentially, with a few exceptions (including the Honeymoon in Vegas [2015] Overture), I feel as though they are thing of the past.

So, what’s so great about them? Well, in the very first moments of a show, before the curtains go up and the magic happens, the orchestra should take centre stage and showcase what’s in store for the night through the overture. It creatively blends the main songs from a score and teases you with what’s to come, engaging all sections of the orchestra. Below are my favourite Overtures and sadly I’ve not even seen the majority of them live, the way, they are meant to be experienced! Alas, one day.

Gypsy is hands down the best overture I have ever heard, bar none. At times, it has brought me to tears whilst listening to it on the street. Just the way it features all my favourite songs and how they melt into one another in this delicious medley. I could listen to it forever and it would never get old. It is best enjoyed with high quality headphones so you can enjoy all the different orchestrations, believe me you’ll thank me for this advice.

My Top Ten Overtures

  1. Gypsy 
  2. Sound of Music
  3. South Pacific
  4. Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
  5. Honeymoon in Vegas
  6. Carousel
  7. Merrily We Roll Along
  8. West Side Story
  9. King And I
  10. Phantom of The Opera

Thanks for reading you beautiful human being! Let me know your favourite in the comments below and if it’s not already on the list I’ll add it pronto!


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