The Best Musical Opening Numbers

The opening number of a musical sets the tone, introduces the themes and captivates the audience from the very beginning.

Here we round up some of the best opening numbers in musicals from Broadway, the West End and beyond…

Circle of Life from The Lion King

The grand and awe-inspiring opening of The Lion King features the iconic Circle of Life performed in Zulu, immediately immersing the audience into the majestic world of the African savannah.


Alexander Hamilton from Hamilton

This rapid and engaging opening number from the genius mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda introduces the life of Alexander Hamilton, setting the pace for the fast-paced and revolutionary storytelling that unfolds throughout the musical.


Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof

Tradition introduces the audience to the traditions and customs of Anatevka, establishing the cultural backdrop of the musical and the challenges faced by Tevye and his family.


All That Jazz from Chicago

This sultry and seductive opening number sets the tone for the dark and alluring world of Chicago, introducing the audience to the sensational characters and themes of fame, crime and manipulation.


Willkommen from Cabaret

The charismatic Emcee invites the audience into the risqué and vibrant Kit Kat Club, instantly captivating them with the intriguing atmosphere of the Weimar-era Berlin.


Prologue: Into the Woods from Into the Woods

One of Sondhiem’s most well known songs, Into the Woods’ opening number offers intertwining narratives and familiar fairy tale characters as the stage is set for the whimsical yet dark journey that lies ahead.


Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ from Oklahoma!

This classic and timeless opening number from the history-making Oklahoma! showcases the beauty of the American countryside and sets the nostalgic and romantic tone of the musical.


Hello! from The Book of Mormon

The hilarious and irreverent opening number Hello! welcomes the audience to the quirky characters and satirical humour that make The Book of Mormon a comedic hit.


No One Mourns the Wicked from Wicked

The powerful and haunting opening number of Wicked immediately transports the audience to the magical land of Oz, offering a fresh perspective on the familiar story of The Wizard of Oz.


I Hope I Get It from A Chorus Line

The audition-themed opening of A Chorus Line introduces the cast of aspiring dancers, immediately immersing the audience in the world of the theatre and the dreams of the characters.


Company from Company

Another of Sondhiem’s most famous works, the clever and intricate opening number of Company introduces the central character and explores the complexities of modern relationships.


Rent from Rent

The electric and anthemic opening of Rent sets the scene in the bohemian East Village of New York City, introducing the diverse and passionate group of characters who will navigate love, friendship and the challenges of life with HIV/AIDS.


Welcome to the Rock from Come From Away

The warm and welcoming opening of Come From Away introduces the small town of Gander in Newfoundland and the remarkable true story of how the community came together to help stranded airline passengers during 9/11.


In the Heights from In the Heights

Before Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical In the Heights bursts into life with a non-stop opening number that introduces the diverse and tight-knit Washington Heights community in New York City, celebrating the joys and struggles of its residents.


Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray

Tracy Turnblad’s infectious energy and optimism shine in the opening number, Good Morning Baltimore, as she sets out to pursue her dream of dancing on The Corny Collins Show.


Another Op’nin’, Another Show from Kiss Me, Kate

This catchy and upbeat opening number celebrates the excitement and hustle of the theatre world, immediately drawing the audience into the backstage drama of the musical.


Oh, What a Circus from Evita

The vibrant and energetic opening of Evita welcomes the audience to Argentina and presents the larger-than-life character of Eva Perón.


The Avenue Q Theme from Avenue Q

This humorous and self-aware opening number sets the tone for the irreverent and puppet-filled world of Avenue Q, immediately engaging the audience in its cheeky humour.


Be sure to share your favourite opening numbers with us on social media at @stage_chat!

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About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.


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