Monday, December 14, 2009

SOB's Theatrical Firsts Of The Noughties: My First Show-Stoppers

SOB's Theatrical Firsts Of The Noughties: My First Show-Stoppers

Over the course of the last decade, I’ve been truly fortunate to enjoy a number of enlightening firsts in my personal theatergoing that have only served to increase my deep and abiding love for the art form known as live theatre. What follows is one of my ten favorite experiences of the last ten years.

While the term “stopping the show” was nothing new to me, actually seeing it occur live on stage most certainly was. It never really dawned on me what it meant until I saw it for myself.

My first experience in seeing a truly show-stopping number came via Broadway’s 2003 revival of Nine. The incomparable Chita Rivera was performing the rousing "Folies Bergère" as Liliane La Fleur. Not only did she manage to hold the audience in the palm of her hand, but she managed to gently stroke it into complete submission. By the end of her exquisite number, the audience was immediately on its feet with unrelenting cheers. So I'll forever remember Ms. Rivera for performing and her show-stopping number.

I’ve witnessed precious few other show-stoppers -- so few I can count the performers on one hand. The glorious Jennifer Holliday stopped Dreamgirls both in 2003 and again in 2007 as she reprised her role as Effie Melody White, performing her signature hit “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” A breathtaking Bernadette Peters delivered her show-stopper as Mama Rose in the 2004 revival of Gypsy, a feat that would be replicated by another Mama Rose, the brilliant Patti LuPone. I first saw LuPone portray the woman who was born too early and started too late at Chicagoland’s Ravinia in 2006, followed by her Tony-winning turn on Broadway in 2008. In each of the three performance total I saw, the crowds enthusiastically rushed to their feet to cheer each bravura “Rose’s Turn.”

Earlier this year, I saw an altogether different kind of show-stopper. It was also in Gypsy and also involved Patti LuPone singing “Rose’s Turn.” When a photographer in the back of the theatre began snapping away during this pivotal number, LuPone stopped mid-song. Since I’ve already written extensively about that event, I won’t go into detail here.

But suffice to say, just as I’ll never forget the show-stopping numbers offered by Chita Rivera, Jennifer Holliday, Bernadette Peters or Patti LuPone, I’ll also never forget the first time a show was stopped to reprimand an audience member. It served as an excellent reminder that we should treat the theatre, its actors and our fellow audience members with respect, lest we spoil their theatergoing experience.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post. I paid my own way for all of these performances.

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At 14 December, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

My first show-stopping moment came with Patti LuPone and "Rose's Turn" at Encores at City Center. It was thrilling - both to hear her and to be part of an audience that leaped to its feet.

At 14 December, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

It's kind of fun, isn't it?!


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