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"This is the moment!" croons Dr. Henry Jekyll in Jekyll and Hyde. If you attend live theatre and have a real passion for it, you, like me, probably have a list of memories about the shows you love (and even shows you'd didn't love) where you remember specific moments as if they just happened. Some are iconic moments - Carol Channing appearing at the top of the staircase at Harmonia Gardens in that magnificent red gown in Hello, Dolly!. Some are whole production numbers - "One - Finale" in A Chorus Line. Some are memorable performances - Laura Benanti's brilliant turn as Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy.
But I'll bet that you, like me, can name very specific moments when the show before you went from enjoyable to brilliant or even life-changing. Those moments when you were so thrilled you sat forward in your seat, or you were head to toe goose flesh, or you were so overwhelmed you got tears in your eyes. Or maybe - probably - all three!
Here are some of my favorite moments, in no particular order:
- Gypsy: "Rose's Turn" as performed by Patti LuPone.
- A Chorus Line: The house lights fade out, the cast walks out in rows, holding hands to maintain equal space. You can hear their shoes. The mirrors upstage turn around. The piano intro starts. Lights up.
- La Cage aux Folles (1983-4): The Cagelles walk downstage then upstage in unison. a series of arches lower. Each framed in an arch, they lift their arms. The arches rise, taking their frocks with it. Best costume change. Ever.
- Mame (1983): The great Angela Lansbury sits on a large window ledge at the top of a two-story spiral staircase with little "Patrick." She starts to sing "Open a New Window," the set pulls apart, and she and the boy fly all over New York City in the window frame!
- Sweeney Todd (the most recent revival): The show curtain, ripped full of slash marks, sends blood red lash marks all over the walls, as red lights from onstage are aimed through the curtain and toward us!
- next to normal: Gabe, Natalie, Diana and Henry (Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, Alice Ripley, Adam Chanler-Berat) doing "Super Boy and the Invisible Girl." The thrill, the rush, the surge of energy in the audience!
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Betty Buckley and Howard McGillin "arm wrestling" during "Two Kinsmen."
- Cats: The lights are out and the overture is playing. You can't see them yet, but you can sense the cats are prowling all around you.
- Les Miserables: "To love another person is to see the face of God." (My eyes are tearful just typing it.)
- Shogun: The Musical: The warriors advance directly toward us on horseback during a blizzard of snow in slow motion.
- Tarzan: The ship has wrecked. Suddenly, we are underwater, looking up, watching survivors swim to the surface. Their clothes look like they are floating in real water!
- Grand Hotel: The Musical: The Bolero: Life and death dance arm and arm.
- Side Show: The exact moment when, during "Come Look at the Freaks," Daisy and Violet Hilton (Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner) conjoin before your eyes, and stay that way!
- American Idiot: "Holiday" The whole number.
- Beauty and the Beast: The Beast's transformation. A. MAZ. ING.
- Into the Woods: The Witch levitates. Too cool.
- Company: "Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise!" Pretty much anyone who sings it.
- Passion: Fosca is dying. The company is walking in and out of her memory, their voices singing in harmonious discord and in a very eerie echo effect.
- City of Angels: The exact moment you realize that the "black and white" scenes REALLY look like they are in black and white.
- Kiss of the Spider Woman: "Where You Are" (Chita Rivera). "Gimme Love" (Vanessa Williams)
- Crazy for You: When, during "Slap That Bass," the women use lengths of rope and their bodies to become basses for the men to "play".
- Fiddler on the Roof: "Tradition" when, as the song climaxes, the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters sing their verses at the same time.
- Ghost: The Musical: The entire "Subway Ghost" scene. Dramatic. Emotional. Visually exciting.
- Bonnie and Clyde: When the show opens, Bonnie and Clyde come toward us in their Model T, and we see them massacred in a hail of bullets. More significantly, as the same scene plays out at the end, they come toward us in silence. Poignant and chilling.
- Once: The moment after the frenzy of the opening number where it is suddenly silent and Guy (Steve Kazee) sees Girl (Cristin Milioti) and they are in darkness except for spotlights on their faces. So much emotion, not a word is sung or spoken. I was hooked.
I have many more, which I'll share another time. What are YOUR moments? Write me or Tweet me!
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