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11 O’Clock Number

An "11 o'clock number" is a term used in musical theater to describe a song that is suppose to be sung at the end of the performance—around 11 o'clock in an evening performance—that is catchy and memorable enough that the audience would sing or hum it on their way home.

How It's Used

"Meehan makes a note on his working script. The white pages have already been supplemented with revised blue pages. A big musical number in which Hannigan exults over her expected triumph has been cut, partly at Loudon's urging. 'They wanted to give me,' Loudon says, 'what traditionally is called the 11 o'clock number, a show-stopping moment just before the curtain.' But the song was too sophisticated for the character, Loudon felt. 'She was singing about Harold Arlen and St. Tropez; these are words that would never come out of Hannigan's mouth.' Strouse and Charnin agreed and have already fashioned a substitute.”

—Paula Span, “The Making of Annie 2: From Cattle Call To Kennedy Center, The ‘Continuation,’” The Washington Post, December 24, 1989, p. G01.

“While a narrative of some kind may be too much to ask, investing more time in writing stronger continuity lines will go a long way toward eliminating the hokey feel of 'Tricks.' As it is, the show is one magic trick after another. Due to a confusion about the starting time of the performance I caught, I missed the first two—but that hardly mattered. You can see 'Tricks' from the middle or from end to beginning and it will make little difference. There's no building up of momentum or any attempt to make the show more than the sum of its parts. The supposed '11 o'clock number' for example (a Chinese game of juggling and connecting rings) is too blah after the preceding one, in which Ben swallowed 20 needles, a thread and...well, you have to see it to believe it.”

—Kamal Al-Solaylee, “Bright spots in a string of tricks,” The Globe and Mail, December 13, 2004, p. R5.

“In the meantime they [Betty Comden and Adolph Green] had written the show 'Billion Dollar Baby' (1945, music by Morton Gould) and the revue 'Two on the Aisle' (1951) with Bert Lahr and Dolores Gray, one sketch depicting Gray shooting her lover then listing all the reasons why, in a breathless solo with the accent on the word 'If' ('If I had not seen you take Geraldine on the lake in your flat-bottomed skiff...If you had not left me home when you had two seats for South Pacif...') The show’s music was by Jule Styne, with whom the pair collaborated on the musical they wrote for [Judy] Holliday, 'Bells are Ringing,' which included the hit songs 'Just in Time' and 'The Party’s Over,' and a show-stopping 11 o’clock number for Holliday, 'I’m Going Back.'”

—Tom Vallance, “Betty Comden,” The Independent (UK), November 27, 2006.

“But it is mainly because those of us who survived the Mullally fiasco are still haunted by nightmarish memories of Chorus Girl, VIP's occasional social companion, when she made her Broadway debut in the then-unknown Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Tell Me On A Tuesday [sic].' Originally the story of four sexy single girls living in New York, it endured a name change and budget cuts that took it from a cast of four down to a cone, leaving Chorus Girl doing high kicks on her own, arguing with herself and singing the 11 o'clock number at half past nine.”

—Michael Idato, “Nothing like a dame,” The Sydney Morning Herald, August 29, 2008.

“This is how much of a diva Elaine Stritch is: In 'Singing Sondheim...One Song at a Time' at the Café Carlyle, she sings 'Rose's Turn' from 'Gypsy,' the 11 o'clock number of all time. Only she delivers it 15 minutes in—at 9 p.m.!”

—Frank Scheck, “Song by Song by Sondheim at Diva’s Pace,” The New York Post, January 8, 2010.

Also Known As (AKA)

11 O'Clock Production Number


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