What's your favorite showstopper?

Mine is, hands down and absolutely without a doubt, Jennifer Holliday’s And I Am Telling You from Dreamgirls.

That determined doggedness to hang on to her man, her undeserving man-- if you really listen to it, it’s downright scary. And then there’s that voice. It actually and literally gives me goosebumps.

How 'bout you?

“Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick,” from Gypsy.

“Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” from Guys and Dolls.

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” from Gypsy.

. . . also “Rose’s Turn” . . . Gypsy is just fulla show-stoppers!

“With a little bit of luck” from My Fair Lady

“Heaven on their minds” - Jesus Christ Superstar.

“No Time At All” - Pippin

Then show-stopper of all time, of course, was “Tell Me, Pretty Maiden” from Florodora. People actually barged into the theater just to see that number, then barged out again.

Could we have a definition? What really is a showstopper, anyway? Just a song that’s so good you forget that it’s supposed to be part of a show?

Hummmmmm. I’d say “Glitter and Be Gay,” from Candide.

“Brotherhood of Man” by Frank Loesser, from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The definition I was using is a song performance so great, the audience jumps to it’s feet and applaudes so loud and long the show actually has to stop.

Cool. Then I guess it really should have a specific performer, too - and I’m afraid I don’t have one for mine. It’s just so fiendishly difficult that anyone who nails it is going to get an ovation.

A showstopper is a good thing in theatre? Hmm.

In the computer world, a showstopper is a bug so bad that it prevents you from using a program at all, thus “stopping the show”.

Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.


“Wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”

Mammy sung by Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer.


You’re going to hell for that.

“One Day More” from LES MISERABLES

The opening number in RAGTIME

for lighter fair:


the FOLIES BERGERES number from NINE

SHALL WE DANCE? from The KING & I (yeah yeah yeah, I know, the play’s politically incorrect and about as historically accurate as Alley Oop, but when all that silk starts flying around the stage I don’t care)

I second “With A Little Bit Of Luck” and also nominate “The Rain In Spain (Stays Mainly In The Plain).” My Fair Lady is damn good for showstoppers.

Of recent plays I’ve seen in London:

(spring of 2003) ‘With a Little Bit of Luck’ from My Fair Lady

(autumn 2003) The Pharaoh’s Song from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – I saw it during an afternoon matinee, and the guy who sang the song was unbelievable – he ended up singing it three times!

I found out later, he was the understudy for the role!