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Title Drop / Theatre

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  • Frequently done with title songs in musicals (too many to list).
  • William Shakespeare does this occasionally:
    Helena: All's Well That Ends Well; still the fine's the crown;
    Whate'er the course, the end is the renown.
    Duke: Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
    Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.
    Prince: For never was a story of more woe
    Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
    This purse of ducats I receiv'd from you,
    And Dromio my man did bring them me:
    I see we still did meet each other's man,
    And I was ta'en for him, and he for me,
    And thereupon these errors are arose.
    He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
    Now let him speak; 'tis charity to show.
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  • When the curtain opens on the prologue of Fiddler on the Roof, we see and hear the fiddler playing, and a Title Drop is the very first line in the show. The fiddler, who plays no part in the plot, is explained by Tevye to be a metaphor for the tenacious existence of Anatevka and its people.
  • The opening scene of Damn Yankees has one Title Drop in dialogue (what Joe says when Meg asks him if the Washington Senators won the game he was watching) and another in the song "Six Months" ("Those damn Yankees! Why can't we beat 'em?")
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, last lines:
    Lady Bracknell: My nephew, you seem to be displaying signs of triviality.
    Jack ("Earnest") Worthing: On the contrary, Aunt Augusta, I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.
  • "There are no Angels in America" re: the lack of spiritual or ethnic history in the nation's culture—it's a big rant about how everything is political. Although, in the context of this play, there are angels in America, and Louis is, as Belize says "so full of piping hot crap that the mention of [his] name draws flies" in the monologue/monolith in which he makes the above statement.
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  • In the opening scene of The Music Man, one of the salesmen on the train calls Professor Harold Hill a "music man" during the "Rock Island" patter.
  • In the musical Catch Me If You Can, the opening song "Live in Living Color" has a title drop on a high note at the end of the bridge
    • "What's a name/Just window dressing/Everyone knows that it's the clothes that make the man/Play the game, just keep 'em guessing/mix and match me, try to catch me/If you can!"
  • Paul Rudnick's I Hate Hamlet does this unabashedly, as the script calls for a lightning strike for emphasis upon delivery of the line.
  • In You Can't Take It with You, Grandpa drops the title in reference to Mr. Kirby's wealth.
  • Sometimes encountered in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas:
  • Les Misérables is generally considered to be an untranslatable title. It is dropped in the finalé in the original French version of the musical; it is translated as "the wretched of the Earth" in the more widely-heard English libretto, but this is a loose translation and loses the effect of the Title Drop.
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  • In Drew Hayden Taylor's Someday, the word "someday" is pronounced exactly twice: at the very beginning of the play, by the mother, Anne, who states that she'll be rich "someday." She wins the lotto and also fulfills her dream of meeting Grace/Janice, her daughter who was taken away by children's aid 35 years earlier. The family reunion seems to be going well until Grace, now the rich lawyer Janice, asks why she was taken away and Anne tells her the truth, that it's because they were Native Canadian and poor. Janice can't accept that answer and realizes how different she is from her birth family, having been raised by an upper-middle-class family while her mother and sister live on reservation. She leaves quite brutally and merely states "I'll be back...someday." This is the most chilling line of the play, especially since it started set up as a play about dreams being fulfilled. Made even more poignant since in the sequel, Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth, she does come back... for Anne's burial.
  • Given that the word "Wicked" is spoken often in the 2nd act of the eponymous show, there is one conversation where Elphaba emphasises to Glinda that she is now "the WICKED witch of the west," which is important.
    • More whimsically: "For the first time, I feel...wicked."
    • The very first song of the show is 'No One Mourns the Wicked', which ends with the ensemble shouting the title in unison.
    • Word of god has stated that he originally intended for all the song titles to include some form of "Wicked", "good", "bad" "wonderful", etc. In the end only 6 songs did. ("No One Mourns the Wicked", "Something Bad", "Thank Goodness", "Wonderful", "No Good Deed", & "For Good")
  • Inherit the Wind has Matthew Harrison Brady quote scripture. It becomes considered for his epitaph.
  • "Don't forget that a few years ago we came through the depression by The Skin of Our Teeth. One more tight squeeze like that and where would we be?"
  • In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the Title Drop occurs as a bit of drunken singing (parodying "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf").
  • Paint Your Wagon does it in its theme song "I'm On My Way," which is technically not a title song:
    Got a dream, boy? Got a song?
    Paint your wagon and come along!
    Lee Marvin: Gonna paint your wagon,
    Gonna paint it fine,
    Gonna use oil-based paint
    'Cause the wood is pine.
    Choir: Ponderosa pine! Wooo-ooh!
  • In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Maggie uses the phrase to describe her life.
  • In Up The Down Staircase, the title (an offense one of the protagonist's students is detained for) is rather painfully dropped twice, once near the beginning and once at the play's "climax."
  • "When he died—- and by the way he died the Death of a Salesman, in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of the New York, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston—-when he died, hundreds of salesman and buyers were at his funeral. Things were sad on a lotta trains for months after that."
  • Subverted in Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill: the character is interrupted just before getting to that line in a poem.
  • Arthur Miller's All My Sons: Joe says at the end, "Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were."
  • The Cole Porter musical Out Of This World drops its title in the song "No Lover."
  • A Streetcar Named Desire has a literal Title Drop in its first scene, where Blanche tells how she came to the house on Elysian Fields. Later, there is a less literal but more meaningful reference:
    Stella: But there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark—that sort of making everything else seem—unimportant.
    Blanche: What you are talking about is brutal desire—just—Desire!—the name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another...
  • A double title drop is done in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me on a Sunday. There's the title song, but it also contains the lyrics "let me down easy, no big song and dance". Tell Me on a Sunday was combined with Variations to form the reworked show Song and Dance, consisting of one "song" act (Tell Me on a Sunday) and one "dance" act (Variations), so this one is a retroactive title drop as well.
  • Sweet Gay Baby Jesus: Used as an exclamation during the course of the play, rather than a character name, as some had hoped.
  • In The Cat and the Canary, no cats or canaries are brought up until the second act, when Annabelle starts flipping through a random book and finds herself reading about fear and how to overcome it through understanding:
    "Take a bird—a canary in a cage—put it on a table—then let a cat jump up and walk around the cage, glaring at the canary. What happens? The canary, seeing its enemy so close to it, is frightened almost to death. But if it had understanding, it would know that the cat couldn't reach it while it had the protection of the cage. Not knowing this, it suffers a thousand deaths—through fear."
  • George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell has no less than five Title Drops, all by the same character, who considers it philosophy.
  • Several characters in Dog Sees God title drop the scene titles, and Beethoven mentions in The Vipers Nest that it's said "a dog sees god in his master." Interestingly, the play also drops the title of another Charlie-Brown themed work in the final monologue, as CB reads a letter from his mysterious pen pal CS (Charles Shultz) who tells him that despite his struggles, he is a good man.
  • "The sight is dismal, and our affairs from England come too late. The ears are senseless that should give us hearing, to tell him his commandment is fulfilled, that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."
  • Not a title song, but the last lyric in the musical Ordinary Days: "... the color of an ordinary day."
  • Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna lacks a title song, but the title appears in the song "Hope" and the Triumphant Reprise of "Elma Om Mi Lize".
    • Cirque shows that do have title songs and from there title drops include Alegría and Quidam.
  • Barefoot in the Park has several references to the title, but only once using its exact wording:
    Corie: It's suddenly very clear that you and I have absolutely nothing in common.
    Paul: Why? Because I won't walk barefoot in the park in winter?
  • Pacific Overtures:
    Reciter: From the personal journal of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry. 14 July 1853. As I supervise the final preparations for this afternoon's historic landing at Kanagawa, I am moved to hope the Japanese will voluntarily accept the reasonable and pacific overtures embodied in our friendly letter.
  • In Margin for Error, the Consul, regarding his financial troubles, says, "The Third Reich allows no margin for error!" This line is echoed by Max in the second act.
  • Cactus Flower:
    Stephanie: Now, Doctor, you've been complaining that I'm too grim and efficient. You compared me with my cactus plant. Well, Doctor, every once in a while this prickly little thing— puts out a lovely flower that some people think—
  • This mixes with As the Good Book Says... in There Shall Be No Night, when Kaarlo quotes Revelation 22:4-5. "And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever." The quote is from the vision of a new Eden in the last chapter of Revelation; Kaarlo means it to reflect his hope for the future of man.
  • Natalie drops the title in a bittersweet duet with her mother in Next to Normal:
    Diana: We tried to give you a normal life. I realize now I have no clue what that is.
    Natalie: I don't need a life that's normal, that's way too far away, but something next to normal would be okay.
  • In The Playboy of the Western World, Pegeen Mike builds up Christy Mahon in her mind as a dashing, romantic figure, breaks off the relationship when she realizes she's been Loving a Shadow, and then discovers, when it's too late to get him back, that in every way that matters he really is everything she'd hoped of him. The last line of the play is her lament that she's "lost the only Playboy of the Western World".
  • The first two lines sung in Come From Away are as follows:
    Welcome to the Rock if you come from away
    You'll probably understand about half of what we say
    • For bonus points, the title of that song is Welcome to the Rock, making two title drops in one line.