Many a musical doesn't make the audience wait to hear the ensemble sing. So, it'll start the very first scene (possibly after a short prologue) with a Crowd Song
, often a catchy one
. Often includes solo verses to help introduce the characters.
See also the Opening Ballet
- Almost all of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas have an Opening Chorus:
- "Hark, the hour of ten is sounding" from Trial By Jury.
- "Ring forth, ye bells" from The Sorcerer.
- "We sail the ocean blue" from H.M.S. Pinafore.
- "Pour, oh, pour the pirate sherry" from The Pirates of Penzance.
- "Twenty love-sick maidens we" from Patience.
- "Tripping hither, tripping thither" from Iolanthe.
- "Search throughout the panorama" from Princess Ida.
- "If you want to know who we are" from The Mikado.
- "Fair is Rose" from Ruddigore.
- "List and learn" from The Gondoliers.
- "In lazy languor" from Utopia, Limited.
- "Won't it be a pretty wedding?" from The Grand Duke.
- Sole exception: The Yeomen of the Guard, which begins with Phoebe's song, "When maiden loves." Shortly after that, though, we get "Tower warders, under orders" with the full ensemble.
- "Wintergreen For President" from Of Thee I Sing.
- "Cotton Blossom" from Show Boat, notable for having its opening lines Bowdlerised.
Original lines: "Colored folks work on de Mississippi / Colored folks work while de white folks play". (The original original lines didn't use the words "colored folks.")
- Bowdlerised lines: "Here we all work on the Mississippi / Here we all work while the rich folks play".
- "Opening Night" from The Producers is a more recent example.
- "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
- The movie adaptation omits this.
- Spoofed in Spamalot, in which the chorus mishears the Historian's introduction and thus the show opens with a musical number about Finland (instead of England) until they're corrected.
- "Bells Are Ringing" from Bells Are Ringing.
- "Call On Dolly" from Hello, Dolly!!.
- "Westphalia" in some versions of Candide.
- The Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along originally started (and ended) with "The Hills Of Tomorrow." This Opening Chorus and the following scene were removed in revisions, making the title song the Opening Chorus.
- "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line, though preceded by a somewhat extended dance sequence.
- "No One Mourns the Wicked" both opens and closes the musical Wicked.
- Half-subverted in Avenue Q, where the opening song is a recording by (presumably) the original cast, played alongside an opening video. It parodies Sesame Street, what else can we say.
- "Overture/Work Song" from Les MisÚrables, although it's only for the male chorus.
- "Tradition" from Fiddler On The Roof, preceded by a minute of narration.
- "Merano" from Chess, at least on the concept album and in most British productions.
- "Fletcher's American Chocolate Choral Society" from Strike Up The Band.
- "The Old Red Hills of Home" from Parade
- "The Heat is on in Saigon" from Miss Saigon.
- The titular song of Ragtime.
- The wordless hum of the chorus in the "Overture" to Blood Brothers.
- "Madame Guillotine" in The Scarlet Pimpernel.
- The third An American Tail movie started out with one as well, "We Live in Manhattan".
- In a rare example of Disney subverting stuff, many of Disney's opening numbers are not Crowd Songs. "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King (with a large ensemble standing around being interesting looking), "The Bells of Notre Dame" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin are all sung by one person. However, "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast, "The Virginia Company" from Pocahontas and "Fathoms Below" from The Little Mermaid do fall under this.
- Most of the old Disney movies started with a chorale song being sung over the opening credits.
- "All That Jazz" from Chicago.
- "Another Op'nin, Another Show" from Kiss Me Kate.
- Although there's a fairly lengthy scene preceding it.
- "Joseph Taylor, Junior" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro.
- "Tower of Babble" from Godspell.
- "Mrs. Sally Adams" from Call Me Madam, in which Irving Berlin quotes from his own song "God Bless America." (Preceded by a short prologue scene.)
- Subversion: "An Opening For A Princess" doesn't open Once Upon a Mattress, despite its title and full ensemble participation; it's even the second song in the show, since the prologue already has "Many Moons Ago."
- "We Saw The Sea" from the movie Follow the Fleet.
- Boys and girls of every age/wouldn't you like to see something strange?/Come with us and you will see/this our town of Halloween . . .
- A semi-aversion in Thoroughly Modern Millie: The show starts of with Millie singing "Not for the Life of Me", a full song and a separate track on the CD, as a solo, but it segues directly into the choral title number. Interestingly, even though the tracks are listed separately on the original cast recording, if you listen to only the song "Thoroughly Modern Millie", you will still hear Millie sing the last note of "Not for the Life of Me".
- Little Shop of Horrors uses this trope with the prologue variation.
- The film version of RENT opens with "Seasons of Love'; the stage opening is just one guy singing.
- "Aquarius" in Hair
- "Ohmigod You Guys" in Legally Blonde: The Musical
- "21 Jumbo Street" from Doug Live!
- "Kids Just Being Kids" from The Fairly Oddparents: School's Out! The Musical
- "After Today" from A Goofy Movie
- "I Wanna Be A Boy" from the film version of Teacher's Pet
- "High On A Hill" from The Desert Song. Hammerstein himself apologized for not writing good lyrics.
- In Knickerbocker Holiday, "Clickety-Clack" is a typical opening chorus sung by Dutch Maidens washing the steps, though it's actually the second song in the show, the first being part of the long Opening Monologue.
- Non-theatre example: Almost all of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas start with an opening chorus, though a few aversions do exist (notably the Coffee Cantata, or Schweight stille, plaudert nicht, which starts with a recitative). Usually cantatas that do not start with a chorus instead start with a Sinfonia movement (a completely instrumental movement).
- "Frozen Heart" from Frozen, sung by a group of ice harvesters.
- Technically, "Vuelie" was also this, as it was sung straight from the beginning - right when the Disney castle animation appears.
- Hamilton starts with Alexander Hamilton, a song describing the first 19 or so years of Hamilton's life from his birth to his travel to America, told verse by verse by each of the other actors save the ones playing Angelica and Peggy/Maria. It ends with each actor briefly - and dramatically - stating their relation to Hamilton (deliberately written so that their statement applies equally to both characters for the actors who play more than one).