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Set Switch Song

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A Theatre trope. Basically a song to distract the audience while there is a scene or set change. Usually a blackout/whiteout is used for these but sometimes this does not give the crew enough time to move everything. The songs are rarely memorable or particularly plot-driving. Often similar to a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment in relevance to the overall plot but not in scale as that type of song usually requires a set and a big chorus of its own.

Compare Intermission.


  • "Dear Old Shiz" from Wicked.
  • "Boy for Sale" from Oliver!: Mr. Bumble and Oliver tend to walk downstage with the curtain down while the Workhouse Parlour set is taken out and the Undertaker's Shop is brought in.
  • "A Diva's Lament": from Spamalot. It doesn't even try to be relevant to the plot; the premise is that the actress is whining about her lack of involvement in early Act II, and the ridiculous plot elements that have cropped up that don't involve her. It also interrupts two scenes that are strongly related to one another. And, oddly, in many ways, it's Awesome Music.
  • "Love Is Sweeping The Country" in Of Thee I Sing covers the transition from the Atlantic City scene to the Madison Square Garden scene, and wasn't even printed in the play's first published edition. It's a good song, though.
  • The Secret Garden has several of these, especially in the second act. Each of the groups of Dreamers gets a small bit, and even Dr. Craven gets a small solo. And the kicker is that the titles in the score include "-Transition."
  • They're usually Scatting in them, but many Cirque du Soleil shows have songs and dances used solely for transitions between acts, especially if setpieces and/or equipment need to be moved on and/or off. Examples: "Egypte" and "Gambade" (Mystere), "Marelle" (Quidam), "Pokinoi"(Saltimbanco, after retiring the Vertical Rope), and "Africa" ("O").
  • "Frank Mills" in the musical Hair is a sweet little solo love song that's sole purpose is to allow the cast time to run backstage and change for the next set.
  • "I Sing Of Love" in Kiss Me, Kate. The published text even says the song "gives us time to change to the next scene."
    • Also "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from the same show, where two bad guys are Pushed in Front of the Audience and extemporaneously sing while a set change goes on behind the curtain. Before the two gunmen sing the song, they try to figure out why they're in front of a safety curtain; they fail.
  • "More I Cannot Wish You" in Guys and Dolls is sung during the changeover to the Absurdly-Spacious Sewer set.
  • "Very Soft Shoes" from Once Upon a Mattress.
  • "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady covers the big set change from Ascot back to Henry Higgins' house.
  • "Her Is" from The Pajama Game does it twice, as the set is changed before and after the company picnic scene.
  • "The Highest Judge Of All" from Carousel. The 1994 Broadway revival cut the song because a) they felt it stopped the plot, and b) they were able to make the set change fast enough without it.
  • "Open Up Your Mind" from the original TheatreWorks production of Vanities: The Musical, was sung by Mary to the audience during the Intermission, which was omitted from later productions.
  • In the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Aladdin, reprises of "Arabian Nights" are used for this.
  • Anything Goes, at least the original production, used "Bon Voyage" and "Sailor's Chantey" to cover set changes.
  • Pippin: Lampshaded in "Simple Joys" with the line "We all could use a change of scene."
  • "Invitation to the Concert" in Love Never Dies.
  • In Knickerbocker Holiday, Washington Irving sings a reprise of "There's Nowhere To Go But Up" to cover a scene change in the second act.
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown has "The Denver Police," an ensemble song and dance designed to cover the transition to Mrs. McGlone's mansion in Denver.
  • A Year with Frog and Toad uses ballet sequences to achieve the same effect, and sometimes "The Letter" as the scene cuts to Snail.