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Medley Overture

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Traditional musicals begin with the overture, an instrumental number in which the orchestra plays a medley of the show's best tunes. This is intended to give the audience a taste of the musical numbers they are about to witness, and perhaps to tempt them to buy the songs in printed or recorded form.

The medley type of overture began to emerge from the purely mood-setting classical opera overture in the 19th century, when operetta overtures often opened quietly with a moderate-tempo march or the music of some busy ensemble entrance; this and a sentimental ballad would provide the first two sections of the fast-slow-fast format that can be dated back to the 18th-century Italian sinfonia (the precursor of the symphony). The classical A-B-A-B-coda form (modulating from tonic to dominant for the first B section, and generally speeding up for the coda) was at first used for these medleys, but later abandoned so overtures could plug more songs.

Overtures for musicals in the mid-20th century tended to have more exciting introductions, based on such attention-getting compositional devices as timpani rolls, upward-rushing scales, fanfares, memorable motifs on brass instruments, and unusual sound effects. The sound and fury of the introduction would usually lead in to a rhythmic uptempo song (which might be the title song), which would be followed by a transition into a slower, warmer song (which might be the Love Theme). Transitional passages between songs helped to ease modulations or tempo shifts, and sometimes included breaks for cadenzas. The overture would ideally finish with a grandiosely broad or exuberantly fast coda, though by the 1950s it was becoming more common for overtures to segue to nondescript opening music as the curtain went up.

Since most theatrical songwriters are more skilled at composing melodies than creating memorable arrangements of them, and since medley overtures tended to be Strictly Formula arrangements anyway, composers rarely had much involvement in writing overtures besides suggesting songs that they wanted to plug, though they might have claimed full credit for creating them even in private interviews. Instead, the overture was usually "routined" by the show's orchestrator, conductor or dance arranger.

To save time and effort, overtures often included songs in their standard "utility" orchestrations (designed to be used for scene changes and/or underscoring) or dance arrangements. From the 1940s to the 1970s, it was usual for a Broadway musical to open out of town with a "temporary overture" hastily patched together from these ready-made arrangements linked together with the most perfunctory transitions; the "New York Overture" designed to replace it for the Broadway run would elide the Cut Songs, add any newly-written would-be hit tunes to the best of the rest, and give the songs fancier orchestrations and more logical transitions.

On cast recordings of old musicals, overtures tend to come across as Broadway theatre orchestras' finest moments, though recordings often abridged or cut overtures to save time and tracks. In actual performances, however, overtures often served as accompaniment for the chatter of audience members and latecomers settling into their seats.

It was almost mandatory for Broadway musicals without an Opening Ballet to begin with an overture until the 1960s, as their song-plugging function became obsolete and directors began to demand that shows go straight into their opening scenes without orchestral delay (as Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret did) or only a brief prelude; British imports such as Oliver! also were doing well enough without proper overtures. Revivals of older musicals now often cut down or eliminate the overtures, especially since theatre orchestras have been reduced in size.

Entr'actes (sometimes spelled "Entr'act") for musicals were often written in a similar medley style, and could be found in musicals that otherwise had no overture; cast recordings of shows often substituted them for the actual overtures. They can also be considered examples.

Exit music (not to be confused with Medley Exit, which this trope has no relation to) often consisted of similar medleys, sometimes even recycling material from the overture, though usually with a breezier introduction and a more sedate ending.

In The Golden Age of Hollywood, many movie musicals had song medleys for the Title Sequence, generally not following the typical Broadway form. During the Fall of the Studio System, when the movie musical genre became dominated by lavish or slavish recreations of hit Broadway productions, they did often use Broadway-style overtures that would be labeled as such on soundtrack recordings.



  • The overture to Shock Treatment is a medley of "Denton, USA" and "Anyhow, Anyhow".
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory has "I've Got a Golden Ticket" segueing into "Pure Imagination" (going from uptempo to slower, warmer).
  • In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Main Title music begins with a grandiose introduction based on "Sobbin' Women," surges ahead with a full chorus of "Bless Yore Beautiful Hide," then broadens into "Wonderful, Wonderful Day." The music soon dies down as the opening scene begins (but it continues).
  • That's Entertainment! has an overture of songs from various MGM musicals; they are "The Trolley Song", "Over the Rainbow", "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo", "Singin' in the Rain". "San Francisco" and "That's Entertainment".
  • The main titles for Mary Poppins begin with a somber rendition of "Feed the Birds" before seguing into a more lighthearted medley of "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Chim-Chim-Cher-ee" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
  • Xanadu does this during the extended Logo Joke that leads into the movie's title.
  • The Wizard of Oz does during the opening credits sequence.
  • Both of Max Fleischer's features have these over the opening credits:
    • Gulliver's Travels opens with a medley of "I Hear a Dream", "Faithful", "All's Well", "Bluebirds in the Moonlight", "All Together", "Forever" and "It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day".
    • Mr. Bug Goes to Town opened with a medley of "We're the Couple in the Castle", "Katy Did, Katy Didn't", "I'll Dance at Your Wedding (Honey Dear)", and "Boy Oh Boy".
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to date, is the only Disney animated film with a proper overture, consisting of "One Song" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come".
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey has one. The film in its original format has just a black screen while Ligeti's Atmospheres plays.
  • The John Williams-arranged soundtrack for the 1971 movie version of Fiddler on the Roof has a Entr'acte based on "If I Were a Rich Man" (played as a fanfare for its first four bars but continuing with more Klezmer-like sonorities), "To Life," "Miracle of Miracles" and "Sunrise, Sunset."
  • The overture to The Muppet Christmas Carol combines two of the Paul Williams numbers, "It Feels Like Christmas" and "With a Thankful Heart", with the carols "Good King Wencenslas" and "Once in Royal David's City" (the former of which does appear later, as the carol Bean Bunny sings).
  • The Happiest Millionaire: The opening credits feature a medley of "What's Wrong With That?", "Valentine Candy", "Are We Dancing?" and "I'll Always Be Irish".


  • The overture to Tommy is a medley of "1921," "We're Not Gonna Take It," "Go to the Mirror!", "See Me Feel Me," "Go to the Mirror!" blended with "Pinball Wizard," "See Me Feel Me" (the "Listening to you" section), and a reprise each of "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "Pinball Wizard," ending with an acoustic guitar segue to "It's a Boy."
    • The 1993 stage version has one for each act. They're called "Overture" and "Underture."
  • The Wall had "The Last Few Bricks" on the tours. It was "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)" followed by a medley of "Brick (Part 2)," "Young Lust," and finally "Empty Spaces." It was a few minutes of filler while the road crew scrambled to fill in any remaining bricks at the top and in the middle, until one last space remained.
  • All of Dream Theater's concept albums have had an overture: "Scene Two: I. Overture 1928" for Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory, "I. Overture" for Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and "Dystopian Overture" and "2285 Entr'acte" for The Astonishing.
  • The Western-influenced heavy metal band, Dezperadoz, retold the story of Wyatt Earp with the album "The Legend and the Truth". The album ends with "Echoes of Eternity", an overture of the title track, "Friends 'til the End", and "March to Destiny". Dialogue before the track begins suggests this is Earp himself remembering the truth of the events of Tombstone and the OK Corral, before they became part of American legend.
  • The overture to Steeleye Span's Wintersmith is a medley of "Ancient Eyes" and "The Dark Morris Tune".
  • Pale Machine 2, a Remix Album of bo en's debut album Pale Machine, begins with the song "Prelude", an extended orchestral version of "intro" that adds motifs from the songs following it.


  • The Addams Family's overture combines the famous theme song with the Addamses' part of "When You're an Addams", the ancestors' part of that same number, and the chorus of "Move Towards the Darkness".
  • Annie:
    • The Overture begins with a trumpet playing the first eight bars of "Tomorrow," accompanied only by a trombone in neoclassical counterpoint. A medley ensues, taking in a half-chorus of "It's The Hard-Knock Life" (half-chorus), "You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile" (three-quarters chorus), "We'd Like To Thank You, Herbert Hoover," and finally a full-ensemble version of "Tomorrow."
    • The Entr'acte begins in march time with "You Won't Be An Orphan For Long," and continues with "N.Y.C." (broader in the first 4 bars) and "It's A Hard-Knock Life" (half-chorus, beginning with low winds and drums only). The dynamic level abruptly drops for the bridge of "Maybe," which Annie finishes as a sung reprise as the curtain goes up.
  • Babes In Arms:
    • The Overture to the original 1937 version had an introduction based mostly on descending scales and a motif from "Where or When," then had a crescendo over the pedal point into the title song, the first full tune in a medley including "Where or When," "I Wish I Were In Love Again" and "Johnny One-Note."
    • The 1959 stock edition had a new overture, with the introduction based on the title song and the last phrase of "My Funny Valentine," and the medley using "Where or When," "The Lady is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine" and "Johnny One-Note."
  • Babes in Toyland: The 1954 revision has an Overture framed by a grandiose fanfare derived from "March of the Toys," with a medley of "Toyland," "Floretta," "I Can't Do the Sum," "Just a Whisper Away," the refrain of "March of the Toys" and the fast alla breve arrangement of "Toyland" also used for the finale.
  • The stage show of Beauty and the Beast opens its second act with "Entr'acte & Wolf Chase," which features a medley of "If I Can't Love Her," the "Transformation" theme, "No Matter What," "Be Our Guest," "Home," "If I Can't Love Her" in a different key and "Belle" briefly once the wolf chase portion starts.
  • Brigadoon has a short introduction based on the Sword Dance music in place of an overture, while the Entr'acte is a medley of "Almost Like Being In Love," "Come to Me, Bend to Me," "The Heather on the Hill" and "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean."
  • Bye Bye Birdie: Of the two overtures and two entr'actes originally written for the show, only two are proper medleys (the other two being accompaniments for silly film montages), and both include some singing:
    • Overture "B" is a typical temporary overture, based on recycled arrangements of "An English Teacher," "We Love You, Conrad" (chorus of teenage girls), "Kids," "One Boy," "Put On A Happy Face" and "Honestly Sincere" (including twelve bars pre-recorded with Conrad singing).
    • Entr'acte "B" (the overture on the original cast recording) opens with the girls singing "We Love You, Conrad," leading into a medley of "Baby, Talk To Me" (half-chorus, modulating in the middle), "Rosie" (half-chorus) and "Put On A Happy Face" (in an arrangement that switches styles with every phrase), with "We Love You, Conrad" returning in fanfare form for the coda.
  • Cabaret has an Entr'acte to be performed by the four-piece stage band, the Kit Kat Klub Kittens. (The score allows the orchestral Exit Music as a substitute.) It starts with a fanfare based on "Willkommen" (with which the show begins in lieu of an overture), then follows with a medley of alternating fast and slow songs: "Sitting Pretty," the Cut Song "I Don't Care Much," "Two Ladies," "Why Should I Wake Up?" and, after a long drum break, a wild Dixieland-style arrangement of the title song. The original cast recording heavily abridged the Entr'acte, but for once did not present it as the overture.
  • Camelot:
    • The overture begins with C major fanfares based on the title song and a transition modulating into A major, only to immediately go back to C major for "If Ever I Would Leave You," which is followed by the processional music from the end of the first act. The original cast recording switches around the final two chords to make the overture end on less of an anticlimax.
    • The entr'acte has a splashy introduction including the title fanfare and snippets of "How to Handle a Woman," "Guenevere" and "The Lusty Month of May," before getting into the medley proper with "The Lusty Month of May," and continuing with "How to Handle a Woman" and the first part of "The Jousts," which abruptly segues into a coda using the climax of "If Ever I Would Leave You."
  • Candide has an overture based on the old-fashioned A-B-A-B-coda form. The A section is mainly based on a unique motif, but begins with a turnaround from "The Best of All Possible Worlds" and includes part of the Battle Music. The B section is based on the verse from "Oh, Happy We." The coda is based on the faster sections of "Glitter and Be Gay."
  • Carousel, which has an Opening Ballet in place of an overture, has an Entr'acte which runs through "When the Children are Asleep," "If I Loved You," the "My Boy Bill" section of Billy's soliloquy and "June is Bustin' Out All Over." One of the bridge sections is based on "Mister Snow," and "If I Loved You" returns for the coda.
  • In The Cat and the Fiddle, which has an Opening Ballet instead of an overture, the Entr'acte begins with music from the first act's dueling pianists scene. This is followed by a slow transition to a lively foxtrot arrangement (led off by the three pianos) of "She Didn't Say Yes," whose tune is interleaved with various instrumental themes and "The Breeze Kissed Your Hair" (on top of which is piled the verse to another song, "Try to Forget").
  • The London staging of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory didn't have an overture (it had an animated prologue humorously detailing the making of a bar of chocolate instead, but that was cut with the show's first cast turnover in 2014, so the show started out "cold") but it does have an Entr'acte featuring the show's three most uptempo numbers: "The Amazing Fantastical History of Mr. Willy Wonka", "Don'cha Pinch Me Charlie", and "A Little Me". The last serves as the aforementioned exuberantly fast coda, owing in part to the conductor turning out to be Willy Wonka, who's in a hurry to get the tour of his factory started.
    • The Broadway version uses Pure Imagination as its overture, but contains an Entr'acte similar to its London counterpart. This time, the medley contains "Willy Wonka! Willy Wonka!," "More of Him to Love," "The Candy Man," and "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen."
  • A Chorus Line: Marvin Hamlisch had composed one which included "I Hope I Get It", "Nothing", "At the Ballet", "Dance Ten, Looks Three", "What I Did For Love" and "One", before deciding on an In Medias Res opening with "I Hope I Get It".
  • The Overture to Crazy for You has an introduction starting with an ascending scale and quoting motifs from "I Got Rhythm" and "Things Are Looking Up." The ensuing medley uses includes "Shall We Dance?", "Someone To Watch Over Me" (quarter-chorus), "Stiff Upper Lip" (half-chorus), "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You" (half-chorus) and "Stairway To Paradise."
  • Damn Yankees:
    • The Overture (abridged on the original cast recording) is a medley of "The Game," "A Man Doesn't Know," "A Little Brains, A Little Talent," "Whatever Lola Wants," "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo." and "Heart," with "A Man Doesn't Know" returning in a faster version for the coda.
    • The Entr'acte has an introduction based on "Whatever Lola Wants," followed by a medley of "A Little Brains, A Little Talent," "A Man Doesn't Know," "Two Lost Souls" and "Heart."
  • The Overture to Do Re Mi begins with a timpani roll and fanfare based on "All My Life," then proceeds with a medley of "It's Legitimate," "Cry With The Wind," "Fireworks," "Adventure" and "Make Someone Happy."
  • The Overture to Du Barry Was a Lady is based around a medley of "Ev'ry Day a Holiday," "It Was Written in the Stars" (not a slow tune despite the preceding transition) and "Do I Love You?" (whose first phrase is played in unison at the overture's outset). A few bars of "Friendship" are quoted in the coda.
  • The Overture to Face the Music has an introduction taking its opening motif from "I Say It's Spinach," followed by a medley including "Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee," "Castles In Spain On A Roof In Manhattan" and "Soft Lights and Sweet Music." The coda incorporates the first few bars of "Manhattan Madness."
  • Fiddler on the Roof, while having no overture, does have an Entr'acte that, after a brassy motif drawn from Tevye's monologue, enters into a medley of "Wedding Dance No. 2," the refrain of "If I Were a Rich Man" and "To Life."
  • The Overture to Fifty Million Frenchmen, after an introduction beginning with the melody of "You Do Something to Me" played in parallel minor chords, proceeds with a medley of "I'm in Love," "You've Got That Thing," "The Happy Heaven of Harlem," "You Do Something to Me" and "Paree, What Did You Do to Me?"
  • The Overture to Fiorello! begins with the fire-alarm siren accompanying "The Name's LaGuardia" fanfares, then modulates through the bridge of "I Love A Cop" into a medley taking in "When Did I Fall In Love?", "Gentleman Jimmy," "'Til Tomorrow" and "Home Again." The coda returns to the fanfares and siren of the opening.
  • Flower Drum Song:
    • The Overture begins straight off with the drum rhythm played in the titular song, "A Hundred Million Miracles." The medley proper uses "You Are Beautiful," "Grant Avenue," "Sunday" and "Like A God."
    • The Entr'acte has an 8-bar intro in moderate tempo based on the finish of "Love, Look Away," then continues with "You Are Beautiful" and "Like A God."
  • Follies doesn't technically begin with an overture, but a short one is played after the prologue scene as the guests arrive with no major tempo changes, including abbreviated versions of "That Old Piano Roll" (a Cut Song), "Broadway Baby," "Who's That Woman," "Rain On The Roof," and "Can That Boy Fox-Trot" (another Cut Song), at which point it fades into dialogue, though on recordings it continues with the version of "Buddy's Blues" used soon after for Buddy's entrance and the snippet of "All Things Bright And Beautiful" used for Weismann's entrance.
  • Funny Girl:
    • The Overture's opening fanfare, and much of the linking material, takes its descending-third motif from one of Fanny's recitatives ("Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein"). After this motif builds to the strong rhythm of the patter from "I'm The Greatest Star" or "Don't Rain On My Parade," a traditional medley begins with twelve bars of "The Music That Makes Me Dance," followed immediately by "I'm The Greatest Star," which breaks down at the end as the motif is turned into a sad horn solo for the transition to the big slow tune, "People." The motif returns at a fast tempo and continues in counterpoint with the medley's final tune, "Don't Rain On My Parade," capped by a long trumpet glissando at its final cadence and the addition of the motif to its coda.
    • The Entr'acte, after no more than a timpani and cymbal roll, launches into "People," then brightens the tempo for a transition into "Henry Street." "You Are Woman, I Am Man" follows, complete with counterpoint. Chimes sound as the curtain rises on the second act, and the music fades out not long after.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum:
    • The Overture has an introduction based on the verse of "Free," and continues with a medley of "Love, I Hear" (using the "Free" verse riffs as fills), "Lovely" (in a special beguine arrangement) and "Free," with one of the fanfares from "Bring Me My Bride" as a coda. (This was actually the third overture written for the show; the first one was one of several Sondheim compositions to this show rejected by Executive Veto.)
    • The Entr'acte begins with the fanfare preceding "Bring Me My Bride," and continues with a medley of "The House of Marcus Lycus," "Lovely" (a three-quarters chorus of the same beguine arrangement) and "Pretty Little Picture."
  • The Overture from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has an introduction featuring the title phrase from the title song and a Charleston-rhythm brass pyramid, which is followed by "Sunshine," "You Say You Care," the first part of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and "Bye Bye Baby." The gratuitously jazzy coda contains an excessive number of modulations but no identifiable tune, instead using stock musical phrases associated with the music of the 1920s.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan shows tended to use the older style of overture,note  though Arthur Sullivan assigned the writing of most of them to his assistants:
    • Thespis: Sullivan's original overture is, of course, lost. T. Michael Stone's reconstruction arranges the two surviving Sullivan tunes, "Climbing over rocky mountain" and "Little maid of Arcadee," into a brief medley overture.
    • The Overture from The Sorcerer (arranged by Hamilton Clarke) uses "With heart and with voice" (march) and "When he is here" (ballad), but then uses the waltz verse and faster chorus of "Dear friends, take pity on my lot" for most of its remainder, with small portions of "With heart and with voice" and "My name is John Wellington Wells" interpolated. This overture was not written until the 1884 Savoy revival; originally, Sullivan had merely repurposed a piece of incidental music he wrote for Henry VIII.
    • The Overture from H.M.S. Pinafore (arranged by Alfred Cellier) uses "Then give three cheers for the sailor's bride" (opening section), the refrain from "Refrain, audacious tar" (ballad), "Never mind the why and wherefore" (A/B), and the refrain from "A British tar" (coda).
    • The Overture from The Pirates of Penzance (arranged by Alfred Cellier) uses "With catlike tread" (march), "Ah, leave me not to pine" (ballad), "Here's a first-rate opportunity" (A), the refrain from "Climbing over rocky mountain" and "When you had left our pirate fold" (B), with "With catlike tread" returning for the the coda. The recapitulation adds "How beautifully blue the sky" in counterpoint to "When you had left our pirate fold".
    • The Overture from Patience (arranged by Eugene D'Albert) omits the usual march, and proceeds after a slow introduction with "Turn, oh turn, in this direction" (ballad) "So go to him and say to him" (A), "Oh, list while we a love confess" (B) and a coda with no new tune.
    • The Overture from Iolanthe (written by Sullivan himself) has a calm introduction that leads into the un-marchlike "Welcome to our hearts again," followed by "He loves!" (ballad), "If we're weak enough to tarry" (A), the refrain from "Oh, foolish fay" (B), and "Henceforth, Strephon, cast away" (coda). The first transition from (A) to (B) also uses a snippet of "Hear me Phyllis, ere you leave me" from the Act I finale.
    • The Overture from Princess Ida (by Sullivan) is relatively short and simple, having no fast section after the lively opening, based on the chorus to "We are warriors three". The slow remainder is based on Ida's song "Minerva! oh, hear me".note 
    • The Overture from The Mikado (arranged by Hamilton Clarke) uses "Miya sama" (march), "The Sun, whose rays" (ballad), "There is beauty in the bellow of the blast" (A), "Braid the raven hair" (B) and "Ye torrents roar! ye tempests howl!" (coda).note 
    • The Overture from Ruddigore went through two very different versions:
      • The original version (arranged by Hamilton Clarke) is a procession of melodies rather than a standard "march-ballad-A-B-A-B-coda" overture; it opens with the downbeat "I once was as meek" before switching from minor to major for "Oh why am I moody and sad?", then the tempo speeds up for "Welcome, gentry", slows down again for "The battle's roar is over", and speeds up one last time for "When a man has been a naughty Baronet".
      • The later version (arranged in 1920 by Geoffrey Toye) also opens with "I once was as meek", but then shifts to "When the night wind howls" (march), "I know a youth" (ballad), "My eyes are fully open" (A), and "I shipped, d'ye see" and the ensuing Hornpipe (B), closing with a coda with no new tunes.
    • The Overture from The Yeomen of the Guard (by Sullivan) is unique among the Savoy overtures in being composed in a single sonata allegro section instead of "march-ballad-A-B-A-B-coda". The opening fanfare draws from "When our gallant Norman foes", then leads by way of "When a wooer goes a-wooing" to the dominant for a blend of "Were I thy bride" and "All frenzied, frenzied with despair they rave". The recapitulation stays in the tonic and re-visits all four melodies plus "Oh! A private buffoon is a light-hearted loon" and, in the coda, a snippet of "With happiness their souls are cloyed" from the Act II finale.
    • The Overture (or Introduction) from The Gondoliers (by Sullivan) begins in lively fashion with "Here we come at the risk of our lives," then gradually softens to lead into the requisite ballad, "When a merry maiden marries." However, what follows is neither fast nor in AABA form; instead, the overture ends with the gavotte "I am a courtier grave and serious." However, D'Oyly Carte musical director Malcolm Sargent later appended "Dance a cachucha" for a livelier ending.
    • The Overture from The Grand Duke (by Sullivan) uses the introduction to "The Good Grand Duke of Pfennig Halbpfennig" (march), the accompaniment to "Why, who is this approaching?" (transition to ballad), "My Lord Grand Duke, farewell" (ballad), "Do you know who I am?" (A), "Well, you're a pretty kind of fellow" (B), "Strange the views some people hold" (B, exposition only), and a coda with no new tune.
  • Guys and Dolls:
    • The original overture opens with a modulating introduction based on "I've Never Been In Love Before," and its medley takes in the title song (preceded and followed by a few bars of "Sue Me"), "A Bushel And A Peck," "I've Never Been In Love Before" and "If I Were A Bell" before segueing directly to the Opening Ballet.
    • The 1992 revival included a shortened overture before the Opening Ballet, including a glissando-to-high-trill introduction, the title song, the "Sue Me" transition and "I've Never Been In Love Before."
    • The original entr'acte consisted of a slow introduction and a medley of "I'll Know," "A Bushel And A Peck" and "I've Never Been In Love Before."
  • Gypsy has several dramatic effects in the introduction of the overture: a drumroll, the trumpets playing the "I had a dream" theme from "Some People," a vigorous string ostinato, a brass pyramid and a slide whistle. This last introduces a medley of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" (with highly flashy fills), calming down a little for "You'll Never Get Away From Me," which is followed by a transitional passage that leads into a half-chorus of "Small World." (The one-bar timpani roll that begins this transitional passage was substituted for the "Cow Song" and "Together We Go" at the request of the composer, who wanted the overture to be shorter.) From there the excitement starts to build again, with the burlesque turnaround from "Rose's Turn" (with ad-lib jazz trumpet solo), and a brilliant half-chorus of "Mister Goldstone" in fast tarantella/march tempo. This famous overture (also used in the movie) was actually the first number the relatively inexperienced orchestrators worked on.
  • I Can Get It For You Wholesale:
    • The Overture begins with an introductory fanfare with rushing scales, bells, and the principal motif of "The Sound Of Money." This leads into a medley based on portions of "Momma, Momma," "Who Knows," "Ballad Of The Garment Trade" (as a transition), "Have I Told You Lately?", "The Sound Of Money" (another transition, this one in 5/4) and finally a very soft and mournful version of "What Are They Doing To Us Now?" as the curtain opens. The Opening Ballet (included on the original cast recording in lieu of the Overture itself) can be considered an extension of this medley, since it is based mostly on "What Are They Doing To Us Now?" and "The Way Things Are," with snippets of "Ballad Of The Garment Trade" and "Shave And A Haircut" mixed in, though it simply fades out instead of reaching a proper ending.
    • The Entr'acte, after a very brief "Ballad Of The Garment Trade" fanfare, is a conventional medley of "Have I Told You Lately?" and "Momma, Momma."
  • The King and I:
    • The Overture to The King and I (or Le Roi et Moi, as Robert Russell Bennett's orchestral manuscript calls it) begins with bold open fifths and gamelan-like scales, which eventually yield to a solemn transitional passage based on "Something Wonderful," a full chorus of which follows. The tempo immediately brightens for "I Whistle A Happy Tune," which is followed by "I Have Dreamed" and "Hello, Young Lovers." It ends with "Shall We Dance" and the same scales and open fifths from the start.
    • The Entr'acte begins with a sedate introduction based on motifs from "Hello, Young Lovers" and "A Puzzlement," then proceeds with a medley of "I Whistle A Happy Tune" and "Hello, Young Lovers."
  • Kismet:
    • The Overture begins with the brass playing four bars of "Stranger in Paradise" against drum rolls and gong and cymbal crashes, then continues with a medley of "Gesticulate" (half-chorus), "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" (three-quarters chorus), "Not Since Nineveh" (quarter chorus) and "Stranger in Paradise" (bridge to end). A harshly scored transitional passage based on "Fate" leads without pause into the opening number, "Sands of Time."
    • The Entr'Act uses portions of "He's in Love," "Stranger in Paradise," "Bazaar of the Caravans," "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" and "Not Since Nineveh."
  • La Cage aux folles:
    • The Prelude is fittingly not titled an overture since it lacks a proper medley (except on the original cast recording which combines it with the Entr'acte), though it has a typically splashy introduction, with an opening timpani roll and snippets of the title song, "Song On The Sand" and "The Best Of Times" played amid harp swirls and brass pyramids. The curtain goes up on the last of these snippets, and the title song is the only one that gets a full hearing.
    • The Entr'acte has a similar grandiose modulating introduction, though based only on four bars of the title song. The medley includes the title song, which suddenly cuts off for harp swirls, and leads through a transition based on "With You On My Arm" into a broad half-chorus of "Song On The Sand," with the soaring violins on a melody giving way to a lone accordion. The tempo then picks up again for "We Are What We Are," which after going through part of the dance arrangement does a Truck Driver's Gear Change towards the end and closes out with the "I Am What I Am" tag, including Dramatic Timpani.
  • Lady in the Dark, a musical play which, unusually for its time, had no opening music at all, had an "Overture" before the second act that was a medley of "This Is New," "One Life to Live," "The Saga of Jenny," "My Ship" and the rhumba version of "Girl of the Moment."
  • Li'l Abner:
    • The Overture begins with fast hoe-down style ostinato which modulates into the accompaniment for "The Country's In The Very Best of Hands," the first song of a medley that continues with alternating slow and fast songs: "Namely You," "Oh Happy Day," "If I Had My Druthers," "Jubilation T. Cornpone" and the last strain of "Love in a Home."
    • The Entr'acte is a medley of "If I Had My Druthers," "Jubilation T. Cornpone" and "Namely You," with lively riffs from the "Sadie Hawkins Ballet" and "Dog Patch Dance" framing the first of these tunes.
  • A Little Night Music has an unusual sung-through medley overture. The Greek Chorus begins with free vocalizations and continues with "Remember?", "Soon," and "The Glamorous Life." (The original Broadway and London cast recordings cut to "Night Waltz" after "Remember?")
  • Lost in the Stars, unusually overture-less for a 1949 Broadway musical, does have an medley Entr'acte using part of the title song, "Thousands of Miles" and "Stay Well."
  • In Man of La Mancha, the overture begins with a fanfare, followed by a medley of the title song, "Dulcinea," "Aldonza" and "The Impossible Dream."
  • In the original West End production of Matilda, the Entr'acte was a medley of "The Hammer", "Miracle", "Loud", "School Song", and "Bruce". The Broadway version replaced it with a proper overture medleying "The Hammer" and "Quiet".
  • Milk and Honey:
    • The Overture starts with a 20-bar splash intro over a pedal point, with bells and string shimmer, based on the melody of the title song. A modulation leads into the medley proper, which includes "Shalom," "Independence Day Hora," "Let's Not Face A Moment" (with piano obbligato fills), "That Was Yesterday" and the title song, again also used for the climax of the dance in the first act. The original cast recording uses the ending from the dance music, while the vocal score cuts off to abruptly segue into the opening music.
    • The Entr'acte is a medley of "Chin Up, Ladies," "Shalom," "Let's Not Waste A Moment" and "That Was Yesterday," without transitions.
  • Music in the Air (which had no overture until Robert Russell Bennett wrote one for the 1951 revival) has the Entr'acte repeat most of "There's A Hill Beyond A Hill," followed by the Act I opening music (which stands in place of an overture) and a half-chorus of "The Song Is You."
  • My Fair Lady:
    • The overture begins with a brisk introduction based on "You Did It," and continues with "On The Street Where You Live" and "I Could Have Danced All Night." The latter cuts off just before the cadence, leading into the Opening Ballet with a generic fanfare.
    • The entr'acte begins with an introduction with fanfares based on the Embassy Waltz over trills and a big cymbal roll, and continues with a medley of "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "With A Little Bit Of Luck." The coda includes an abbreviated version of "On The Street Where You Live."
  • The New Moon:
    • The Overture is a medley of the Cotillion dance music, "Marianne," "The Girl on the Prow" and "Stouthearted Men" (which also is the basis of the tremolo-and-brass introduction and the vivace coda).
    • The Intermezzo before the second act has a long, mostly languid introduction which briefly lapses into the march rhythm of "Stouthearted Men" for a modulating bridge before slowing down again for "One Kiss," followed by "Wanting You."
  • Once Upon a Mattress:
    • The Overture begins with a fanfare derived from "Song of Love," then breaks into a medley of "The Minstrel, The Jester And I" (three-quarters chorus), "Shy" and "Normandy" (interlude first), segueing directly to the Prologue song, "Many Moons Ago."
    • The Entr'acte begins with a different opening also based on "Song of Love." The ensuing medley takes in "Normandy," "In a Little While," "Yesterday I Loved You," "Shy" and the refrain of "Many Moons Ago," returning to "Song of Love" in the fast coda.
  • One Touch of Venus:
    • The "Introduction" before the first act is based on the title song and "Way Out West In Jersey."
    • The Entr'acte begins with the "Venus Awakening" music, then continues after a violin solo with a medley of "West Wind," "Foolish Heart," "Way Out West In Jersey" and "Speak Low."
  • On the Town:
    • The Overture is a medley of "New York, New York," "Lucky to Be Me," "Lonely Town" and "I Can Cook, Too." Although the original production, and most modern productions, instead, begin with a rousing rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
    • The Entr'acte is a relaxed medley of "I Feel Like I'm Not Out of Bed Yet" (oddly enough for such an unimportant song, it gets triple play here) and "Lucky to Be Me."
  • The Overture to Out of This World has an introduction heavy on dissonant brass chords and drums pounding in quintuple meter. The mood softens for the lyrical bridge leading into the medley's first song, "Use Your Imagination." The medley continues with half-choruses of "Climb Up the Mountain" (which breaks up at the end for a harp cadenza), "Where, Oh Where" (grandiose waltz), "Nobody's Chasing Me" (boogie) and "I Am Loved" (beguine), which leads into a fast coda glorified by rushing harps and violins.
  • Pal Joey has an overture (reused in the 1952 revival) beginning with a motif from "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." The medley features "Plant You Now, Dig You Later," "I Could Write a Book," "What Is a Man?" (which follows a "Bewitched" transition) and "Do It the Hard Way." The fast 2/4 coda is based on "Take Him."
  • The overture to the Mel Brooks musical The Producers begins with a proud fanfare of "Springtime for Hitler," with a brisk transition (using the main motif from "I Wanna Be a Producer") into "Prisoners of Love."
    • In the live show, after "Prisoners of Love," the action starts. On the cast album, however, the overture continues with a medley of "That Face" (smooth foxtrot), "Along Came Bialy" (lecherous tango), a transition using the melody of "Keep it Gay", and finally into two choruses of "Springtime for Hitler," one straight-ahead, and the final one grandiose and martial!
  • Road Show was ultimately presented without an overture; however, the earlier version titled Bounce was recorded with an overture medley of "Boca Raton" (holding the tempo back for the first few bars), "The Game," "The Best Thing That Ever Happened" and "Gold!"
  • The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd, unlike many other British imports, had a medley overture specially devised for the Broadway version by Robert Russell Bennett (who was not otherwise involved with orchestrating the show), using "Where Would You Be Without Me?", "Who Can I Turn To" (also used for the introduction and coda with added Dramatic Timpani fills), "The Joker" and "A Wonderful Day Like Today."
  • She Loves Me opens with a short prelude (based mostly on "Perspective") rather than a full overture, but still precedes the second act with a medley of songs from the first act: "Days Gone By," "Ilona," "I Resolve," "Dear Friend" and "Tonight at Eight," with a coda based on the recurring Single Stanza Song "Thank You, Madam."
  • Show Boat had Robert Russell Bennett write several different overtures for different productions:
    • The Overture to the 1927 version included only "Mis'ry's Comin' Round" (already a Cut Song when the overture was written) and "Why Do I Love You?", though the introduction to the former includes a modulating passage based on "Can't Help Lovin' That Man."
    • The Overture to the 1946 version began with a dozen or so bars of "Mis'ry's Comin' Round," and then shifting gears into a medley of "Ol' Man River," "Why Do I Love You?", "Make Believe" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." The 1946 version also introduced an Entr'acte based on "Where's The Mate For Me?" and "Make Believe."
  • The Overture to Something for the Boys has a splash-chord introduction with a fanfare quoting the first bars of "He's A Right Guy." The medley covers the title song, "He's A Right Guy" and "Hey, Good-Lookin'."
  • The Sound of Music begins with A Cappella chanting instead of an overture, but still has an Entr'acte medley of the title song, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "Do-Re-Mi" and "The Lonely Goatherd," the last of which is briefly sung by Max and the children as the curtain rises on the second act.
  • South Pacific:
    • The Overture is a medley of "Bali Ha'i," "There is Nothing Like a Dame," "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy" and "Some Enchanted Evening." Interestingly, the big glissando comes only in the coda, which takes up the "Bali Ha'i" theme again.
    • The Entr'acte is a medley of "I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair" and "Younger Than Springtime," with snippets of "Bali Ha'i" and "Some Enchanted Evening" for transitions.
  • The Overture to Sweet Charity begins with a slowish introduction based on the powerful unison vamp from "Big Spender." The tempo suddenly picks up for "If My Friends Could See Me Now," and the medley continues with the title song (half-chorus), "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," "Where Am I Going?" (half-chorus) and "I'm A Brass Band." The "Big Spender" vamp returns in the coda, which gradually builds up to a dissonant final chord.
  • The Overture to Thoroughly Modern Millie's Screen-to-Stage Adaptation starts with a fanfare based on the title song, then picks up tempo for "Only in New York" (much faster than the vocal version), "I Turned the Corner" and "Forget About the Boy."
  • The Musical of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn had an overture starting with a timpani roll and proceeding after motifs from "I'm Like A New Broom" and "Love Is The Reason" into a medley of "Don't Be Afraid," "If You Haven't Got A Sweetheart," "Make The Man Love Me," "Love Is The Reason" and "I'll Buy You A Star."
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown:
    • The Overture is a medley of "I Ain't Down Yet," "Colorado My Home" (a Cut Song), "I'll Never Say No," the bridge of "Belly Up To The Bar, Boys," "Chick-A-Pin," "Keep-A-Hoppin'" and "Bon Jour."
    • The Entr'acte medley begins with "I Ain't Down Yet," transitions with "Beautiful People Of Denver" to "I'll Never Say No" with "My Own Brass Bed" as counterpoint, and ends with "Belly Up To The Bar, Boys."
  • West Side Story has an Opening Ballet and originally had no overture, but one was pieced together for Bernstein to conduct at the opening of the 1960 Broadway return engagement, consisting of bits of the existing arrangements of the "Tonight" quintet, "Somewhere," and "Mambo," with a new ending. A version of this "temporary" overture was used in the film, with "Maria" replacing "Somewhere" and the quintet theme returning for the coda.
  • Where's Charley?:
    • The Overture opens with a glissando into a brief fanfare, which suddenly changes into the bright alla breve of the title song which follows. The music then modulates and broadens for "My Darling, My Darling." The next, fast song is "Make a Miracle," and the tempo then broadens again for "Lovelier Than Ever." Sprightly drums introduce "The New Ashmolean Marching Society and Students' Conservatory Band." This segues directly into the first song, "The Years Before Us," whose first eight bars are played by the orchestra before the curtain rises and the tune is taken up by an offstage A Cappella male chorus.
    • The Entr'acte simply consists of "My Darling, My Darling" followed by a utility version of "Lovelier Than Ever."
  • Wonderful Town:
    • The Overture is a medley of "Swing!", "Ohio," "My Darlin' Eileen," "It's Love" and "Wrong Note Rag."
    • The Entr'acte is a medley of "What a Waste," "Ohio," "Conga!", "A Quiet Girl" and the fast climax of "Conquering New York."
  • The Overture to You Never Know begins with a broad unison statement of "At Long Last Love," then picks up the tempo for the crescendo transition that leads into "From Alpha to Omega." The following slow song is "At Long Last Love," which transitions after a violin cadenza into the uptempo title song, which is followed by "For No Rhyme or Reason" and a typical showy coda.
  • Zorba has no overture, but the Entr'acte is a medley of "The First Time" and "Only Love" performed by the featured bouzouki combo.

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