Broadway audiences enjoyed a bevy of spectacular musicals and plays in 2011. While each show had its special moments, Broadway.com's editors compiled a list of 10 showstopping scenes that brought us to our collective feet. Scroll below to relive these electrifying moments, presented alphabetically.
“Anything Goes” (Anything Goes)
Anything Goes returned to the Rialto this year starring Broadway darling Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney. Foster won a Best Actress Tony Award, proving yet again that few Broadway triple threats can rival her plethora of mind-blowing abilities. In the title number, Foster and the cast hurled themselves into a giddy, taptastic eight-minute-plus dance break to accompany the classic Cole Porter tune. To experience the "Sutton Shuffle," check out Broadway.com's rehearsal footage, or click here for a glimpse at the finished product.
“Hasa Diga Eebowai” (The Book of Mormon)
The first of many jaw-dropping moments in the smash hit The Book of Mormon came early in Act One when the Ugandan villagers taught the visiting Mormon missionaries their life-affirming phrase, “Hasa Diga Eebowai.” This catchy spoof on The Lion King's “Hakuna Matata” may not have been family-friendly, but it certainly was hilarious and set the tone for the rest of the show's "can-you-believe-they-said-that" humor. The number also showcased the talents of the Mormon ensemble.
“Don’t Break the Rules” (Catch Me If You Can)
Catch Me If You Can may not have had the long run it deserved, but the cast, featuring two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, wowed theatergoers nightly with the Act One highlight “Don’t Break the Rules.” The number was so magnetic, it earned a thunderous reaction at the Tony Awards and, during a Late Show performance, left talk show host David Letterman speechless! For proof, check out this clip of Norbert and co. in action during their Letterman visit. Breaking the rules never felt so right.
“Could I Leave You?” (Follies)
As this video makes clear, Follies is filled with one phenomenal song after another. In a Broadway revival featuring top-notch stars Bernadette Peters, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, Elaine Paige, Terri White and Jayne Houdyshell, it’s hard to choose just one moment that stood out…until Jan Maxwell tore into the Sondheim classic “Could I Leave You?” Her emotionally raw performance and beautiful vocals made the plight of fed-up society wife Phyllis Rogers Stone heartbreakingly real.
“Brotherhood of Man” (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)
After Equus, we knew that Daniel Radcliffe was a fine Broadway actor, but with 2011's How to Succeed we learned he can rock a charming American accent as well as really sing and dance! Want to see for yourself? Check out Radcliffe, John Larroquette, human metronome Ellen Harvey and the How to Succeed ensemble performing Rob Ashford’s brilliant choreography in this video from the 2011 Tony Awards.
“Soliloquy” (Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway)
Tony winner Hugh Jackman had theatergoers cheering (and practically fainting) during his hit concert Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. Yet the audience frenzy turned to silence when Jackman performed “Soliloquy” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel as his Act One finale. In character as Billy Bigelow, Jackman seamlessly mined all the varying emotions (excited to terrified) of an expectant father. Jackman already tackled Carousel in a 2002 Carnegie Hall concert, but here's hoping he headlines a full Broadway production someday!
Angela Bassett’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”-esque Monologue (The Mountaintop)
Angela Bassett got audiences fired up every night at The Mountaintop. The show's main focus was on Martin Luther King Jr. (Samuel L. Jackson), but it was Bassett’s sassy maid Camae who carried the torch with her stirring monologue, which recounted the struggles of the civil rights movement and King’s pivotal role in history. Bassett’s invigorating message was beyond moving, it served as a call of action to every individual audience member to personally help ensure equality for all races, creeds and colors.
Ellen Barkin’s Passionate Rant (The Normal Heart)
Twenty-six years after its premiere at the Public Theater, Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart made it to Broadway in 2011 to inspire a new generation. As the wheelchair-bound Dr. Emma Brookner, Ellen Barkin delivered a scathing attack on government inaction in the fight against AIDS and the indisputable need for attention and funding in the early days of the epidemic. The speech was made even more emotional watching it delivered with incredible force from a woman with such physical limitations. Check out a brief snippet of Barkin's Tony-winning performance.
Spider-Man's Aerial Battle With the Green Goblin (Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark)
Despite plenty of offstage drama, Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark attracted audiences to Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre who were eager to experience the show’s groundbreaking aerial effects and stunts. The high-flying technology was at its most thrilling during the climatic Spidey vs. Goblin showdown, as the duo whizzed right off the stage to duke it out over the crowd. Rarely in a Broadway theater have audiences witnessed such explosive action above their heads!
First Glimpse at Mature Joey (War Horse)
The Tony-winning epic War Horse featured innovative puppetry created by the artists of South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company. The majesty of their work was best displayed when young Joey galloped his way into adulthood on stage in the form of a life-sized puppet propelled by three skilled human performers. Though we don’t have footage of the exact awe-inducing moment, this link provides insight into War Horse’s splendor.
Honorable Mention: The Gasp Heard 'Round The Winter Garden (Mamma Mia!)
Mamma Mia! recently celebrated 10 years on Broadway and the crowdpleaser now has a new (perhaps unintentional!) showstopping moment. Forget the beloved ABBA tunes, during the show's 10th anniversary performance when hunky Jordan Dean (Sky) shed his shirt, the sight of his sculpted abs induced gasps from admirers in the audience. If you haven't seen Mamma Mia! in a while, now is the perfect time to revisit the musical and admire a new crush.