If you’ve ever seen or heard a Golden Age musical or watched its film adaptation, you’ve probably heard its “entr’acte,” or second-act prelude. Entr’actes are mostly associated with operas and older Broadway musicals, but they did continue to appear in 1980s pop-operas such as “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon.”
Although they are not as common in contemporary musical theatre, we’ve compiled 15 of our favorite entr’actes since 1992 below:
1. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1994)
During this sequence, the Beast risks his life to save Belle from a pack of wolves.
2. ‘Ragtime’ (1998)
At the start of Act II, the boy Edgar has a dream about Houdini attempting to escape from a box covered in dynamite.
3. ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’ (1999/2014)
This fantastic Act II opener features text from the Latin Requiem Mass.
4. ‘Matilda’ (2011)
Matilda’s entr’acte from the original Royal Shakespeare production was significantly cut for the Broadway production.
5. ‘Bright Star’ (2016)
Aspiring editor Alice Murphy is gearing up to study in Chapel Hill while longing for her son.
6. ‘Mamma Mia!’ (1999)
Sophie’s nightmare about her three possible fathers fighting over who will walk her down the aisle leaves her anxious.
7. ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ (1997)
This instrumental medley of Act I melodies precedes the Act II events at the Prince of Wales’ ball.
8. ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ (2015)
After Betsy (Jack’s girlfriend) agrees to leave with Tommy for Hawaii, Jack follows them there attempting to win back Betsy.
9. ‘Mary Poppins’ (2004)
Before the curtain rises on Act II, the orchestra treats the audience to a brief reprisal of “Jolly Holiday.”
10. ‘Ruthless!’ (1992)
After Tina is revealed as Louise’s murderer, she is sent away while Tina’s mother Judy becomes a Broadway star.
11. ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ (2002)
Millie and her fellow stenographers dance their way to work while she tries to get over her fallout with Jimmy.
12. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
The orchestral interlude is the final calm before the doomed ship’s sinking.
13. ‘Steel Pier’ (1997)
This jazzy prelude sets the mood leading up to Bill and Rita’s mock wedding.
14. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (1993)
This lush prelude juxtaposes the glamour of Hollywood with the seductive nature of “Salome,” the screenplay-within-the-musical.
15. ‘Seussical’ (2000)
After Horton is abducted by hunters, the Cat in the Hat conducts the orchestra into Act II.