Act 1 finales such as “One Day More,” “A New Argentina” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” thrill audiences and keep them excited for the next half of the show. Whether it’s a show-stopping solo, a rousing ensemble number or a subtle encounter between two lovers, Act 1 finales are crucial to any great musical. In no particular order, here are 16 of our favorite contemporary Act 1 finales, with “contemporary” meaning anything from “Rent” onward:
1. ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked’
No one can bring down this epic Act 1 closer, complete with an electric platform sending Elphaba as high as her top notes!
2. ‘Non Stop’ from ‘Hamilton’
Similar to “One Day More,” this finale uses counterpoint in the final minute as all the characters prepare for the next phase in history.
3. ‘So Much Better’ from ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’
Elle Woods rests her case as an up-and-coming lawyer by scoring an internship with Professor Callahan.
4. ‘You Will Be Found’ from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
The shy, awkward Evan Hansen devises the Connor Project to keep the memory of his deceased “friend” alive.
5. ‘The Ball’ from ‘Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812’
Seduced by Anatole, Natasha is sucked into an affair of astronomical proportions.
6. ‘Blackout’ from ‘In the Heights’
Here’s another fantastic Lin-Manuel Miranda finale that will have the whole barrio on its feet!
7. ‘La Vie Boheme’ from ‘Rent’
Honestly, what’s better than seeing a group of artists spontaneously turning dinner into a tribute to their idols and inspirations?
8. ‘Esmeralda’ from ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’
The glorious melodies and harmonies in this ensemble number ring out like the bells of the famous Paris cathedral.
9. ‘Bottom’s Gonna Be On Top’ from ‘Something Rotten!’
This Shakespeare-themed number is chock-full of references and subtle one-liners from the Bard’s own characters interacting with one another.
10. ‘Man Up’ from ‘The Book of Mormon’
After being let go by Elder Price, Elder Cunningham takes advantage of an opportunity to teach the Ugandan people about the Mormon faith.
11. ‘Conga’ from ‘On Your Feet!’
One of the best jukebox musical finales in recent years, the music of Miami Sound Machine makes it irresistible to dance along.
12. ‘Here I Go Again’ from ‘Rock of Ages’
This jukebox musical, a tribute to ‘80s rock hits, closes the first act with Whitesnake’s best-known song.
13. ‘Stronger’ from ‘Finding Neverland’
An encounter between J.M. Barrie and a certain “Peter Pan” character will keep you hooked for the rest of the show!
14. ‘Who I’d Be’ from ‘Shrek the Musical’
This monster-level number features Shrek opening up about who he’d be if he weren’t an ogre.
15. ‘Bad Idea’ from ‘Waitress the Musical’
Jenna and Dr. Pomatter serve the audience some serious chemistry in this fast-paced duet.
16. ‘Astonishing’ from ‘Little Women’
One of Sutton Foster’s signature numbers, this finale finds Jo March resolving to conquer her future.