Awesome (theatre)

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"And I too have found my Grail - musical theater!"
—Sir Robin

There's something special about Crowning Moment of Awesome in theater. Is it the raw, tenacious power of being in the very presence of the actors? Is it in the Crowning Music of Awesome or the words that can't help but lift the human spirit? Or is just because, unlike other examples, these are Crowning Moment of Awesome that are repeated night... after night... after night?!


  • Picasso at the Lapin Agile: Einstein's triumphant "Oh, and MINE won't?" after his face-off with Picasso. Everything associated with Charles Dabernow Schmendiman. Especially his berserk female admirer. Also, Elvis.
  • The end of The Real Inspector Hound reveals the play to be one whole CMOA for Puckeridge, of all people.
  • This Troper remembers watching a video on YouTube which showed a skit that was an introduction to a musical number (The skit itself had nothing to do with the musical itself, it was just there for entertainment purposes). Long story short, the skit starred Tim Curry and some lady playing a nurse. The awesome thing? Guess which character Mr. Curry played again after all these years.
    • I'd be really happy if anyone could find that clip again.
      • This line from the skit sums it up beautifully-

Tim Curry: Yes, I can see they're all waiting in antici..............pation (Audience cheers).

  • The Man Who Came to Dinner: Throughout the play, the flustered Nurse Preen has been silently taking verbal abuse from Sheridan Whiteside. At long last, she has had enough:

I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you , Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on, anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure. If Florence Nightingale had ever nursed *you*, Mr. Whiteside, she would have married Jack the Ripper instead of founding the Red Cross. Good day!

  • The Lion In Winter. Nearly every character has at least one, and Henry and Eleanor are the finest walking Crowning (or Crowned?) Moments of Awesome in twentieth century theatre. There are far too many to expound upon here, but for example:

Eleanor: I even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.

  • Quite a few in Angels in America. The best could be when Prior Walter wrestles an angel to the ground, climbs a fiery ladder to Heaven, tells the other angels that he refuses to accept the mission they charged him with, lectures them on how humanity cannot be ordered to stay the same forever, and demands that they cure the "plague" (AIDS, though unfortunately they cannot). Another good one is when Harper, who spends most of the play in a Valium daze, stands up for herself and leaves her husband to set out and get a new life for herself. Roy Cohn gets one when he pretends to be dying to get the ghost of Ethal Rosenberg to sing a lullabye to him, only to sit up and laugh at her and then fall dead shortly after. Hannah, pretty awesome in her own right, gets one when Prior implies that he thinks she automatically dislikes him for being homosexual because she's a Mormon, leading her to tell him off for making assumptions about her.

Hannah: Don't you dare presume what goes on in my mind. You don't make assumptions about me and I won't make any about you.

  • Tom Stoppard tends to have at least one in every play. For example, in Travesties there's an entire scene where all of the dialogue forms a series of limericks.
    • And in Arcadia, when Hannah confronts Bernard with some research that disproves his thesis:

'Bernard': Fucked by a dahlia!

    • How about in Rock 'N Roll when Alice beats a newspaper to shreds over Candida's head for writing an unflattering article on Syd Barrett?
  • Waiting for Godot: Lucky, a character who has said nothing up to a certain point that he's onstage, has a hat placed upon his head and is told to think. For about seven or eight straight minutes, Lucky spouts off a monologue that is so complex and repetitive and nigh-nonsensical that when the hat is taken off his head, he COLLAPSES. It is the only time he speaks in the whole show.
    • Seriously, go read that monologue and tell this troper that memorizing that isn't an IMMEDIATE CMOA for any actor.
    • This troper saw a production of this show (starring Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, no less); following that speech, the audience sat stunned for a moment before slowly beginning to applaud. To this troper, Lucky outshined McKellen and Stewart, hands down.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: When (already in Act I!) Cyrano duels Valvert to the death, while improvising poetry to go with it and making it RHYME (this includes both the French original, and Brian Hooker's and Anthony Burgess' translations).
    • Before the duel, the "monologue of the nose" is a six minute long Badass Boast. In the duel itself, he kills the protege of a powerful count, considering that he is badass enough to defie a powerful French noble without risk, and after the duel, he proceeds to fight one hundred hired thugs sent to ambush Cyrano's friend Ligniere, and kill them all while he suffers only a minor hand injury. Cyrano is THE Warrior Poet.
    • And while we're at it: even if you do not understand French, this movie scene shows the awesomeness of the character.
    • Cyrano gets another one in Act IV when he ridicules de Guiche for throwing away his scarf (indicating his rank) to slip out of a battle and claims that he would gladly wear it if de Guiche brought it to him. de Guiche believes he stops the Warrior Poet's punchline by explaining there's no way anyone can retrieve his scarf from in the thick of their Spanish enemies. Three guesses what Cyrano proceeds to produce from his pocket...
    • Roxanne taking advantage of Wouldn't Hit a Girl and Show Some Leg to drive right through enemy lines completely unscathed just to see her husband and bring a feast to the starving soldiers. Cyrano admits he didn't know his intellectual cousin was such a "heroine," to which she replies, "Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin." [1]
    • Christian finally telling Cyrano to stop the charade and tell Roxanne the truth about who she really loves. Cyrano repays him by whispering to him as he dies, "I told her. She chose you."
    • de Guiche proving himself a true Gascon by deciding to stay for the battle instead of abandoning his troops and Roxanne to their deaths.
  • Gackt's training for his role as Nemuri Kyoshiro was so severe that it tore open the soles of both of his feet. Not wanting to let the rest of the cast down, he continued to perform as if nothing was wrong.

Musical Theater/Opera

  • tick, tick...BOOM!: Louder Than Words. And what Jon says before the song:

Jon: The tick, tick...BOOMS are softer now. I can barely hear them and I think if I play loud enough, I can drown them out completely.

  • Wicked. Elphaba. "Defying Gravity". That is all.
    • In particular, the last two lines, "No wizard that there is or was / Is ever gonna bring me down!", never fail to give this troper the shivers.
      • Possibly one of then best CMOA's in musical theater period.
      • SECONDED! (Thirded? Fourth'd?) specifically for this troper:

"As someone told me lately, everyone deserves the chance to fly!"

    • and the dialogue leading up to it is chillingly cool, too. This exchange, right after Elphaba is dubbed a Wicked Witch, her worst fear of being reviled by everyone she meets effectively realized:

Glinda: Don't be afraid.
Elphaba: I'm not. It's The Wizard who should be afraid. Of me.

    • No Good Deed also fits in: it not only gives the shivers, it draws you right into Elphaba's mind. ("Fiyero...FIYERO!!!", just for a start).
      • This is THE definitive BSOD Song, to this troper's mind, because it terrifies you and breaks your heart with sympathy for Elphaba at the same time.
    • Glinda gets her own at the end: "I hope you prove me wrong. I doubt you will. Take her away!"
    • "Let the green girl go!" Okay, so the line is a little narmy, but isn't everything about Yero like that? He was swinging in on a vine and/or rope that magically went from the Great Gillikin Forest to somewhere in the heart of Munchkinland for crying out loud. He's just that flipping awesome.
    • Elphaba, after confirming both that Glinda is truly her friend and also that she won't come with her, pauses for a moment...then sings out loud that she knows where she's going:

So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky!

  • Man of La Mancha has "The Impossible Dream". The song itself, while good, is not a CMOA. No, the CMOA comes right at the end, when all the prisoners join together and sing it in choral form as Cervantes and his manservant are taken to the Inquisition. Cue waterworks.
  • The stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when on a darkly lit stage Chitty has been driven over Beachy Head cliff and the car raises up into the air to simulate the fall, then the slowly the wings unfirl, the edges of them lit up and the cast begin singing a stirring reprise of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (called "Chitty Takes Flight") and then the show goes to interval.
  • Raul Esparza. Company. "Being Alive". When the climactic finale of the musical is so powerful that the entire audience stands up and gives an ovation for five minutes straight, you know you've pulled off something incredible.
    • This troper had the EXTREME privilege of sitting in on the final dress rehearsal of the 2006 revival of Company. What's better than seeing Raul Esparza sing "Being Alive"? Seeing him sing it 6 times in a row, with different directions/tone each time, and sitting beside the director. NOTHING will ever top that.
      • This troper, who originally added this example, would like to express his extreme jealousy of the above troper and wishes to know if it's possible to travel back in time and sit next to her.
    • At the performance the day after the Tony awards, the audience (which this troper was a part of) was up for exactly seven minutes, thirty seconds. It was crazy
  • Funny Girl gives one to whoever plays Fanny Bryce (most memorably done by Barbra Streisand) at the end of act one, with the show-stopping "Don't Rain On My Parade," basically "screw you all, I'm in love and I'm going after him."
  • Speaking of parades, "Before the Parade Passes By" from Hello, Dolly!
    • Doubly so when you learn that the song single-handedly saved the show back when it first opened.
  • "I Am What I Am," from La Cage aux Folles.
    • This troper just got a little misty thinking of that song.
  • "One Day More," the Act I finale of Les Miserables. Awesome.
    • "Stars" and "Javert's Suicide".
    • Don't forget "Do You Hear the People Sing"!
      • Especially the more universal reprise version:

Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light
For the wretched of the earth, there is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise
They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord
They will walk behind the plowshare, they will put away the sword
The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward!
Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?
(Epicness ensues, because that, ladies and gents, is how you do a crescendo.)

    • "Who am I? Who am I? I'M JEAN! VAL! JEAN!" "Who am I? TWO-FOUR-SIX-O-ONE!"
    • Don't forget this, please~

Believe of me what you will // Men like me can never change
There is a duty that // Men like you
I'm sworn to do // can never change
You know nothing of my life // No, 24601,
All I did was steal some bread // My duty's to the law
You know nothing of the world // You have no rights
You would sooner see me dead // Come with me 24601
But not before I see this // Now the wheel has turned around
justice done // Jean Valjean is nothing now
I am warning you, Javert // Dare you speak to me of crime
I'm a stronger man by far // And the price you had to pay
There is power in me yet // Every man is born in sin
My race is not yet run // Every man must choose his way
I am warning you, Javert // You know nothing of Javert''
There is nothing I won't dare // I was born inside a jail
If I have to kill you here // I was born with scum like you
I'll do what must be done! // I am from the gutter too!

    • I've seen the show four times, and Jean Valjean breaking the chair at the end of this number, making it very clear that means what he says has never failed to send chills down my spine. And when he then punches Javert out and escapes, it cranks the moment Up to Eleven.
    • The scene on the barricades when Gavroche (who is a pretty Badass little kid anyway) calls undercover Javert out.

Gavroche: So never kick a dog/Because he's just a pup/We'll fight like twenty armies and we won't give up/So you'd better run for cover when the pup grows up!

  • Ragtime. "Make them hear you". Especially Brian Stokes Mitchell's rendition of the song.
    • Haaving been part of a choir that keeps that song as a staple of our repetoire, can tell you that ANY performance, regardless of context, of "Make Them Hear You" is a CMOA.
  • "Dearly beloved, we gather here to say our goodbyes..." evolving into "Is anyone out of the mainstream? Is anyone in the mainstream? Is anyone alive with a sex drive? Tear down the walls! Aren't we all? The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation! Viva La Vie Boheme!" A few of my friends and I consider that the crowning moment of Rent.
    • Benny gets one by footing the bill for Angel's funeral.
    • This troper, for some reason, always gets the "awesome squee" moment during What You Own: "Alexi-- Mark-- call me a hypocrite-- I need to finish my own film! I QUIT!"
      • Seconded. I'm hard-pressed not to cheer for that one.
    • May be more of a Real Life crowning moment, but Daphne Rubin-Vega's "Out Tonight" at the Rent 10th Anniversary deserves mention. Like her or not, you have to admit that actually climbing onto the bars and doing all the original choreography - which includes back bends, a split, and high kicks - in skintight pants and high heels, with barely any preparation (the entire cast had expected to be just sitting and singing, like a concert, not actually performing) is pretty darn impressive. Not to mention that this was after she'd had a kid.
    • Would this fit here? OH well, I'm putting it here anyway. The Stage version of RENT. Finale B (which is Crowning Music of Awesome in itself), at the very end. Singing along, and then suddenly, everyone looks stage-right... and on runs Angel, who joins in singing. When this troper saw RENT, he knew perfectly well that it was coming, and he still burst into hysterically joyful tears.
      • At the very end of the final Broadway performance, the original cast coming out and singing "Seasons of Love" with the final cast is worth the price of the DVD alone.
  • The ending of 1776. "I don't want to be remembered!"
    • "Is Anybody There?"
    • The final scene between John and Abby.
      • God, yes. Abby's "SALTPETRE!" and John's expression of "You are so hot right now" just made it completely. Not to mention her CMOA triggering his...
    • Apparent-Lee, we have forgotten "The Lees of Old Virginia." Granted, it was the on-Lee thing Richard Henry Lee did in the musical, so, natural-Lee, it has to be the Crowning Moment (Yes, I'll be stopping... momentari-Lee!)
      • ... Can I marry this post or whoever made it?
    • A very darkly compelling CMOA. "Triangle Trade".
      • That'd be 'Molasses to Rum', and god yes. Villain Song, yes, but Rutledge nails it.
    • Also, I am disappointed no one said the finale. That's when they sign the Declaration of Independence.
      • Not to mention that moment preceding the signing when they actually pass the movement. When this troper saw the show and that happened, this silence filled the stage, and you just watch all of them think "...Holy crap...we just okayed the act of committing treason." And it is GLORIOUS.
    • Dickinson's last speech. Dear God, may I marry that man please?
  • The end of act one in The Producers. This troper was going along thinking "This is the biggest Tony winner in history? Sure it's funny, but a lot of stuff is straight from the movie and the songs aren't really that catchy." Then we hit that moment and I got it. Since it tragically wasn't replicated in the movie, I'll spell it out: Max has gotten back from his trip to "Little Old Lady Land" having raised two million dollars, and declares that now they can put on the show. Everyone else gets the news, resulting in brief reprises of every single song from the first act that all start overlapping until finally everyone just repeatedly shouts "Bialystock and Bloom!" then all hum the chorus of Springtime for Hitler (which doubled as the original film's title theme). Such an incredible expression of pure joy as you're completely wrapped up in the story and feeling that joy right along with everyone, despite knowing that some of them are just getting screwed over. It's helped by everyone managing to get a happy ending.
  • In Guys and Dolls, Sky Masterson sings what may be the best song ever written for a musical about how badly he needs to win a round of craps (it's cooler in context). He does, in what's implied to be one roll.
  • Freddy, Shallow Male Love Interest of My Fair Lady, gets the short end of the stick in many ways, story-wise. However, his song "On the Street Where You Live" has got to be one of the sweetest and most emotionally powerful Stalker with a Crush songs ever, even out of context!
  • The end of "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar...

"Take me now, before I change my mind!"

  • The finale of Pacific Overtures, "Next!" turns all of Japan's history from the Meiji Restoration to the present into a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the entire country.
  • The Cradle Will Rock bridges the gap between theater and Real Life. Someone in the government in 1938 was opposed to a musical glorifying labor unions and did their best to shut it down. Come opening night the doors to the theater were locked and chained shut. But they hadn't counted on Orson Welles. He moved the cast and the entire crowd across the street to a theater he had rented for the day. The actor's union had prevented the cast from performing onstage, but there was no law about the audience joining in on the songs. So the composer sat down on the piano and played the score while the actors sang their parts from wherever they were seated. The audience was loving it, and at the end of it all they went to the front of the stage to take their bows. Epic.
  • In the Heights, Sonny and Graffiti Pete get two. First at the end of Act One during the song Blackout, Sonny tries to protect the corner store from looters. Graffiti Pete uses his Roman candles to fend off the mob. Towards the end of the play, Sonny hires Graffiti Pete to paint a mural of Abuela Claudia on the graffiti-defaced corner store grate. The mural convinces Usnavi, who disliked Pete before, to stay in Washington Heights.
    • Benny standing up to Kevin deserves a mention.
    • Benny standing on his fire escape at the beginning of Act 2. . .and an obviously post-coital Nina coming out to join him. When I first saw the show, the audience clapped and cheered so loudly and for so long that the actors had to start the dialogue over.

Nina: Are you ready to try again?
Benny: I think I'm ready.
...And then she starts to test Benny on Spanish vocab words. Similarly to above, the theater I was in laughed so hard that they almost missed the beginning of the incoming song!

    • Camila's solo "Enough," in which she tells her family that they messed up royally, and that they better fix it.
  • At the end of Parade Lucille's reply to Craig's condolences on her husband's death:

Lucille: Sorry, Mr. Craig? That won't do.

  • Mid Act II of Spring Awakening, an essay of a sexually educational nature is found amongst Moritz's belongings following his suicide and as Melchior is interrogated about the authorship, the song Totally Fucked begins. Now, with a song titled like that, you already have to know it's going to be pretty cool but the Crowning Moment is right in the middle when they ask him, "For the last time! Did you write this?" Melchior faces up to them, and yells, "YES!" Gives this troper shivers every damn time.
  • In the second act of Ruddigore, The Dragon has carried off a maiden -- Dame Hannah. In a beautiful subversion of the Damsel in Distress trope, she appropriates a BFS and goes after Sir Ruthven.
  • This. Don't know the title of the song, but it's Billy Elliot and damn if that dance number alone doesn't merit a standing ovation.
    • The song's title is "Angry Dance" and it's performed by Trent Kowalik, a kid who's so AWESOME that he his fellow Billys (David Alvarez and Kirl Kulish) won Tonys for their performances. First time in Tony history. (Their acceptance speech doubles Crowning Moment Of Heart Warming.)
  • "Du Måste Finnas", from the second act of Kristina från Duvemåla, where Kristina fiercely reaffirms her faith in God, which had been her only foothold during the tragedies surrounding her emigration to America. The singer, Helen Sjöholm, was not well-known before taking this role. The people who wrote the song? Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, from ABBA. Björn, who wrote the lyrics, is an agnostic. And Helen can still sing it, just as well, fifteen years later, in English.
    • Not only that, Björn is an atheist. And even so, the song sends shivers down the spine of this atheist troper.
  • Floria Tosca of the eponymous opera starts out as a not especially likeable, vain sort of character. She spends the first Act simply being jealous of her revolutionary boyfriend's supposed new lover (actually a fellow revolutionary in disguise). Having found out the truth, with her boyfriend being tortured in the next room, Tosca gets some much meatier characterisation. The villain demands a night of lovemaking in return for only pretending to execute the boyfriend and giving Tosca plus one free passage out of the country. Defeated, Tosca agrees - and then realises she's completely alone with the villain and in possession of all she needs. She takes several instantaneous levels in badass, defends her virtue and stabs the villain in the chest, proclaiming "This is Tosca's kiss!" Crowning moment of awesome, indeed.
  • Thirteen's crowning moment of awesome is when Evan calls Brett, the Jerk Jock who he has been jumping through hoops to please so that he will come to his Bar Mitzvah a "bully and a jerk" and realizes that the Cool Losers Archie and Patrice are his real friends.
  • Godspell's Alas For You- the scene where Jesus rebukes the Pharisees. Just listen.
  • Seven words: Der Hölle Rache köcht in meinem Herzen.
  • Jekyll and Hyde has the song Confrontation, which this troper thinks is a CMOA just because it is damn hard to switch between personalities like that. Any actor who can pull it off is freaking amazing.
  • Riverdance has undergone many changes from the original and its first New York production, and not all are improvements. However, every incarnation of Trading Taps will have at least one jaw-dropping display of footwork; if nothing else, the sight of a man pirouetting across a stage, on point, in tap shoes, ensures its entry here.
  • Why isn't Mary Poppins on here?? This show has plenty of them.
    • For example, after returning to Cherry Tree Lane, Mary comes back to confront Miss Andrew and literally gives her a taste of her own medicine before sending her down to Hell in a giant birdcage.
    • During Step In Time, Bert WALKS on the proscenium! If that isn't awesome, this troper doesn't know what is.
    • The fact that Mary Poppins herself flies out over the audience at the end of the show practically makes the show a crowning moment of awesome within itself!

Something Completely Different

  • Fantasmic!, as seen at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida:
    • The show concludes with Sorcerer Mickey appearing in a flash at the top of the mountain and commanding the fireworks exploding all around him only to disappear in another flash and reappear instantly, complete with costume change, on the stage two stories below. Ironically, a significant number of guests miss this part of the show after mistaking the previous set piece, a three-tiered white steamboat covered in Disney characters doing a synchronized dance with Steamboat Willie himself at the helm as yet more fireworks go off around it for the show's finale and start walking out to get ahead of the crowds.
    • Oh, and let's not forget the first part of the show, in which Mickey literally shoots pyrotechnics from his fingertips.