Reprises in musicals that take on a completely different mood than the original

A very highly focused question so may not get much response, but here goes:

I’ve mentioned here in threads about the U.S. South and other cultures how I love the song Tradition in “Fiddler on the Roof”. The first time you hear it the song is jolly, fun, a little moving, and basically a “teambuilder”. After Tevye disowns his daughter there’s a reprise (sometimes offstage, always background to the action) in which the same chorus is sung again only this time it’s ominous and exclusive and dark, basically the downside of tradition and the reminder that Tevye himself is not immune to prejudice and religious intolerance. (Original number begins around 2:50 in this; ominous reprise @ 4:55 [it’s a slightly longer reprise on stage, but still only a few seconds].)

In South Pacific the number Honey Bun(about 10:00) is a very lighthearted burlesque from a talent show by the nurses. Later when the men are all pulled off the island- where their main problem has been boredom and that they “ain’t got dames” to the “war with bullets” where they could well be on their way to a bloody battle*- they withdraw to a very down-tempo reprise of Honey Bun (about 3:45). (Couldn’t find a clip- I don’t think it’s in the movie version.)

What are some other examples of the same song having completely different mood and purpose when reprised?
*An unrelated side question: is it ever stated when South Pacific takes place? Honey Bun is performed as part of a Thanksgiving Follies but I don’t think the year is given, but even if it’s 1944 then there’s almost a year of fighting left. I’m curious if the men were being pulled out to go to a specific (historical) campaign.

“Where do we go from here?” from Evita The first is a represents her rise to influence, the second her illness.

“I’ll Cover You” from RENT. The first time, it’s an upbeat happy happy number sung by two lovers newly in love. The second time it’s a funeral dirge.

Much like “Tradition,” it’s a great use of a great song. It works better than a new song would have in the second scene because of the echoes of the former happiness.

This isn’t really what you’re asking for, but it sort of captures the spirit. I think. The first thing I thought of was from the movie “Topsy Turvy”, about Gilbert and Sullivan, and their lives and careers while producing The Mikado. The final scene is the song “The Sun Whose Rays are All Ablaze” by Shirley Henderson, here.

In the play, it’s supposed to be artless fun, a young girl feeling on top of the world, beautiful and in love.

In the movie, somehow through the song’s pacing and overall performance, what you get is the contrast between the sunny exterior and the sometimes desperate interior lives of the actors, and indeed everyone involved in the play. It’s masterfully done.

My main thought was “OMG, Moaning Myrtle sings!”:smiley:

Came in to say ‘I’ll Cover You’ from Rent, but since that’s been covered (groan) I’ll put forward ‘Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee’ from Grease. The first time, performed by Rizzo, it’s a fun song about holier-than-thou girls who lead sheltered lives. When reprised, performed by Sandy, it’s much slower, about how people only see her as what they perceive to be a holier-than-thou girl who has led a sheltered life.

A lot of my favorite musicals have these:

“Dulcinea” in ‘Man of la Mancha’ starts off as Quixote’s very wistful and sweet declaration of courtly love. The last verse of the number, though, is taken up by a chorus of Aldonza’s usual ‘patrons’, and they turn it into an overtly sarcastic mockery of the pedestal that Quixote has put his ‘Dulcinea’ up on. Finally, the reprise is even more bittersweet and desperate, as Aldonza, at Quixote’s sickbed, tries to use the theme to trigger his memories of his crazy dreams.

The title song of ‘Camelot’, (aka “It’s true”) is originally very fun, upbeat, and carefree, all about how magical and perfect the place is. And the reprise is a eulogy - Camelot is about to die, Arthur knows it, and is singing its praises one last time, hoping that people will remember the good times.

‘Once more with feeling’ features a wonderful mash-up of two reprises, but only one of them is really a different mood than the original: “Standing” stays on the same kind of melancholy I-can’t-stay-here-anymore vibe as it started, while “Under your spell” goes from a gorgeous declaration of love to stark betrayal and even a hint of despair.

I think you mean “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”.

In Gypsy, the first time Mama Rose sings “Small World” with Herbie it’s a light flirtatious number, but by the time the reprise comes, she’s sold her daughter into prostitution (just about) and lost Herbie altogether.

Does ‘Send in the clowns’ count?

And the song that starts with the line “Where do we go from here?” is ‘You Must Love Me’, which if I remember correctly isn’t reprised.

“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” - Pal Joey
“You’re Nothing Without Me/I’m Nothing Without You” - City of Angels
“Not a Day Goes By” - Merrily We Roll Along

From Les Misérables -

The first time we hear the melody of ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ is in the scene at the Bishop’s house, when the Bishop sings about kindness and generosity. Then, in the second act, Marius sings in the empty ABC Café in despair about his friends’ deaths.

Also, Jean Valjean and Javert have the same music when the two characters are in similar situations - when Jean Valjean is saved by the Bishop, and after Javert has allowed Valjean to escape with the unconscious Marius. In Valjean’s case, it is about accepting the possibility of salvation. In Javert’s case, it is about the unacceptability of Justice tempered with mercy. Valjean lives a life as a new man, Javert cannot face life and throws himself into the Seine.

In Big River, “Waiting For the Light to Shine” is first a contemplative song and then a strident song of rebellion, starting off the reprise with “All right, I’ll go to hell! I’ll take up wickedness again, which is my line, being brought up to it!”

Also Little Bird is first sung as a sentimental if slightly risqué in its double meanings. The next time it’s sung it’s a violent prelude to abduction and [off-stage] gang rape.

Honestly, are there any musicals where this doesn’t happen at least once? It’s such a cliché, it’s kind of annoying.

I came here specifically to say “I’ll Cover You.” That was the first song that came to mind for this question. I love its use in the musical. Because it is a reprise, it is soooo much more powerful as the gospel-inspired tribute the second time. And in my opinion, this is the song that makes or breaks the musical. If the actor playing Tom Collins has a less-than-stellar voice, it just ruins the song and quite possibly the whole musical.

I came in here to mention this one, as a perfect example. The significance of being under a spell changes from the original to the reprise.

Well, no stage musical thread would be complete without a mention of ‘The Sound of Music’. There’s a couple of them that I can think of in that one (from the movie version, anyway), but my favorite is ‘Lonely Goatherd’… the first time a fun marionette romp with the kids, the second time a waltz variation played by the orchestra during the formal party scene. The latter is very wistful and weighted with meaning: Maria is reminiscing with the kids about the traditional Landler dance from when she was a girl, ends up dancing with Captain VonTrapp and they fall in love, all against the backdrop of the grand party symbolizing the Captain’s fierce loyalty to the old Austria which is of course threatened by Nazi domination.

Edelweiss is also more somber the second time.

I’ll Cover You is one of the few in which the reprise will bring you to tears, a masterpiece of the same lyrics and melody having two completely different contexts.

Yes, quite a few.

Like thread-shitters.