What does your ‘11 o’clock number’ say about you?

How many times have you uttered the words “I wish someone had told me that before” – or something similar? The truth is, of course, that they probably did – it’s just that you might not have been all that receptive at the time…

That’s the unfortunate thing about ‘advice’. It’s frequently offered where none was in fact sought and, even if it was, there’s a strong chance that anything remotely unpalatable will have been instantly cast aside. But there’s also something to be said for being ‘allowed’ to make your own mistakes and I sometimes wonder if (by advocating the type of ‘helicopter parenting’ frequently demonstrated on Facebook) we are in fact depriving our children of the opportunity for developing some good old-fashioned resilience?

Over the years I must have taught hundreds of songs (from a wide range of genres, and to pupils of all ages) but by far the most popular ones have been those plucked straight from the world of musical theatre. So, what is it about the humble musical that has made it such an enduring hit?

Perhaps it’s

  • The instantly singable tunes – suited to crowded auditoriums and compact shower cubicles alike
  • The license for (over) sharing of emotion – who doesn’t love a diva?!
  • The spectacle – ‘The Lion King’ definitely springs to mind here, with its breath-taking 18-foot exotic giraffe puppets
  • The escapism – often much needed at the end of the working week
  • A combination of the above

Whatever the draw, this particular art form continues to enjoy a tremendous level of popularity, and this got me thinking about the so-called ’11 o’clock number’. This is a theatre term used for a show-stopping song that occurs late in the final act of a musical. It is traditionally sung by the main character and marks the point at which they reach an important realisation.

Looking back to my early thirties, I’m almost certain that ‘Defying Gravity’ would have been mine. I was confident, determined, and headstrong and I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from life. More than a decade later (and valuing family, health and happiness over career, status, and wealth) I fear that my 11 o’clock number might be rather different now…

I’m going to go with ‘Sit down you’re rockin’ the boat’ – in recognition of my unashamed desire to slip under the radar and avoid any unnecessary conflict. Anything for an easy life really!

So, how about you?    

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