Credit...Clockwise from optimal left: Weegee/International facility of Photography, via Getty Images; Walter McBride/Getty Images; Neal Boenzi/The brand-new York Times; Walter McBride/Getty Images; Walter McBride/Getty Images

“Hello, Dolly.”

“Oliver.”

“Oklahoma.”

Those titles don’t look fairly right, do they? They’re absent a certain…something. Lock talking once they have to be shouting or exclaiming or…

That’s it!

For decades, Broadway musicals offered exclamation clues in your titles liberally and also unironically. Anyone from Irving Berlin come George Gershwin had them, periodically multiple time in the exact same show. (Jerome Kern composed the 1918 present “Oh, Lady! Lady!!”, a title the raises a entirety other question around the use of commas.) The exclamation point out promised fizz, excitement, laughs. The difference between “Drat! The Cat!” and “Drat. The Cat.” is enormous. Enormous! (See?)

Even prior to “Oklahoma!” acquired a title tune — and also a new name come go with it — it was called “Away we Go!” but then Broadway gained serious. And also away the exclamation clues went, at the very least for a while.

You are watching: Which of these musical titles does not actually end with an exclamation point?

The music theater historian Laurence Maslon charts the waning of the exclamation allude to the format of severe musical theatre exemplified by the director Harold Prince and also the composer Stephen Sondheim.


“By the so late 1960s,” Mr. Maslon said, such effusive dot “became shorthand because that a title promising a kind of excitement that the material itself didn’t provide.”

As weightier functions took end the Broadway see in the 1970s and also 1980s, pop society rushed in to fill the void in the type of fake titles, usually with a healthy dose that snark. Brand-new musicals finishing with the as soon as obligatory point mark can be discovered not in Playbills however in “The Simpsons” (“Oh, Streetcar!”) and “Friends” (“Freud!”). F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed admonition — “An exclamation suggest is favor laughing in ~ your own joke”— rang much more and an ext true.

“At this point, i can’t imagine any straight-faced musical utilizing one,” said Mr. Maslon. “Either it’s purposely self-referential and not intended to be seriously, or it’s comes from a more jejune sensibility and doesn’t care.” In the an initial four year of the 2010s, only a single musical out of much more than 3 dozen — “Baby, the You!” — had actually one. And that played less than six months.


But wait!

In just the last year, the number has tripled, through “On her Feet!” and also “Disaster!” involvement “Something Rotten!” on Broadway. No to it is in outdone, NBC has taken old title and included exclamation points on its broadcasts the “The Sound of Music Live!” and also “Peter Pan Live!”

For part creators who grew up throughout those exclamatory lean years, the shift has come v some trepidation.


“We felt utilizing it was, as they would certainly say in England, ‘a little bit naff,’” said Karey Kirkpatrick, who aided kick off this resurgence in march 2015 v “Something Rotten!,” about two Elizabethan playwrights trying to perform William Shakespeare one far better and phase a musical. “But Kevin was absolutely adamant that it had actually to be there.”

He to be referring to the “Something Rotten!” producer Kevin McCollum, who repetitively lobbied because that the exclamation point even as soon as the present had the an ext innocuous title “The Bottom Brothers.”

“‘Something Rotten’ with a period could be an editorial statement, and also not a hopeful one,” said Mr. McCollum, that implored audience to “embrace the exclamation point” in publish advertisements last spring. “With an exclamation mark, it i do not care fun. And also what far better way come treat a show about making the world’s first musical comedy?”

(He had actually some corroboration from the medieval scribes that were copying far a few centuries before the Elizabethan shenanigans in “Something Rotten!” it is thought that this copyists put the Latin native “io,” or “hurray,” in ~ the end of some sentences to convey delight. Eventually, the theory goes, the “o” ended up under the “I” and also in shrunken form.)

Seth Rudetsky, the co-creator and also co-star of the campy 1970s spoof “Disaster!,” has actually taken a similarly enthusiastic strategy to the title. A current show magazine had nearly a dozen exclamation points, consisting of after the surname of every principal actors member. (“Roger Bart! Kerry Butler!”)

“I nothing think ‘Disaster!’ works without it,” Mr. Rudetsky said. “It needs to be heightened.”

However, the takes pains to distance himself from the elbow-to-the-ribs mentality the the exclamation point has involved symbolize. “‘Disaster!’ is a really silly show, however not in that method which says ‘Broadway’ in quotes, which i can’t stand,” he said. “Roger Bart has sharks living on his eight by the finish of the show, however he dram it prefer it’s real. Kind of.”

Even v their barrage of insider musical theatre gags in “Something Rotten!,” the an innovative team stresses that their purposes are not to mock but to praise.


“Ours is not winking,” Mr. McCollum said. “This is not part of the Letterman-ization that entertainment.”

Of these three shows, by much the the very least ironic is “On her Feet!,” which follows the joint careers of the singer-songwriters Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The title, while based on one of Ms. Estefan’s struggle singles, bring away liberties on both ends: The song was actually dubbed “Get on your Feet,” through no exclamation point.

And once the Estefans began to construct a musical for ras Vegas about a te ago, the planned title was an unadorned “On your Feet.” Finally, though, they choose to revolve it into less the a pointer and much more of a command.

See more: Is World Capitalized In A Sentence? Is World A Capital W

“These room our marching orders,” Ms. Estefan stated with a laugh. “Hey, I flourished up in a military family.”

In this era that emoji-laden texts and tweets, that course, exclamation points room the coin the the realm. Both Mr. Rudetsky and Ms. Estefan claimed they battle to store their usage under regulate in your day-to-day life.

And as Mr. Kirkpatrick sharp out, “Something Rotten!” may have collection a trend well beyond Times Square: “The very first time I experienced Jeb Bush’s project logo, we said, ‘Hey, castle stole our exclamation point!’”