PopWatch Confessional: What's your quintessential Broadway number?


Image Credit: Joan Marcus

Confession: I teared up during the Saturday matinee of Anything Goes, which is now in previews and opens April 7, because the massive Act 1 finale tap routine to the title song felt like quintessential Broadway to me. Watching Tony winner Sutton Foster (as Reno Sweeney) hoofing it with a sea of sailors and other passengers aboard the S.S. American was one of those experiences that made me stop, marvel, and appreciate the fact that at that moment, all over midtown Manhattan, musicals were happening. See a tease on the show’s site.

Have you had a similar experience? What’s quintessential Broadway to you?

Comments (182 total) Add your comment
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  • Kelly

    I have to agree with you about Anything Goes. I saw it in its first weekend of previews, and the title song just dazzled me. Sometimes, you just can’t beat the classics. Although, defining the quintessential Broadway moment is difficult. I see the quintessential Broadway moment as the moment I have shivers sent down my spine by what I’m watching.

    • Tom

      First thing that comes to mind when I think of broadway naturally is comicbooks and spiderman. Doesn’t everybody?

  • Chelsea

    Hands down, “Seasons of Love” from RENT. Saw it a year or so ago starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal and it was so moving.

    • Meg

      YES. It ties with the finale when Angel comes back for me. Nothing better.

    • Heather

      Same here. Rent is and always will be my favorite broadway show and here those first notes of Seasons of Love sends chills down my back!

      • Mr. Holloway

        Agree on the “Seasons of Love” notes being pretty much iconic…

        …but the “Rent” number that consistently wrecks me is the “I’ll Cover You” reprise. (I know it’s not the “quintessential” number from the show, but still…)

    • Rebekah

      You stole my answer. It so sums up what a powerful Broadway song should be.

    • mahovolich

      I agree with Mr Holloway. Everytime I have seen the show with someone who is watching for the first time-I automatically hand them a kleenex (and no one has refused).

  • Remy

    “One Day More” from Les Miserables. Is there anything more spine tingling than that moment? The entire cast bringing their individual parts into one moment? Love it. (I’d actually been thinking about this a lot lately…thanks PBS, now Les Mis has been playing non-stop.)

    • Kiki

      I’m with you there, Remy! I even tear up just listening to that song…

      • Stephanie

        Agreed. “One Day More” is the top. Nothing will ever surpass it. My #2 is “Who Am I?” once again from Les Mis. This production is the quintessential Broadway everything!!

      • tracy bluth

        I tear up too! God I love Les Mis- it was the best production I’ve seen on Broadway yet!!!

      • Noodley


        And as someone who works with the history of the founding era, I must include “Molasses to Rum” from 1776. It isn’t “quintessential Broadway,” but with the right performer it can leave you breathless.

      • Bobby’s Robot

        @Noodley – good one!

      • Skippy

        Anything from 1776!!!

    • Steph

      I was about to post that- the 23th An. version is great, but nothing beats the 10th Anniversary Concert- (Michael Ball >>>>>>>to infinity Nick Jonas)

      The original (US) cast was fantastic, as was the original (London) cast. And every version of that song is just, as you wrote- spine tingling! A fantastic moment.

    • Stephen

      Yes, to “One Day More.”

      “…One more day before the storm at the barricades of freedom!”


    • MsSuniDaze

      Totally!!! “One Day More” is amazing and I get chills everytime. Also, “Do you hear the people sing?”.

    • JR

      I was going to say that!!! Also, definitely “Defying Gravity” from Wicked!

    • Maggie

      I totally agree. I’d also put “I Dreamed a Dream” in there as well. My sister played Fantine in her high school’s production and I flew in from college to see it. I knew how hard she’d worked and how many hours of voice lessons she had put in and when she hit the climax note of the song I just lost it. Everything about that song is so present and contemporary, we all have dreams. It was just amazing.

    • Brett

      Javert’s Suicide during Les Mis…Saw it about 15 years ago and will never forget it

      • Remy

        That one still makes me shiver. Phenomenal.

    • Sparky


    • Penny Barner

      Absolute favourite…along with Bring Him Home!! Shattering and soul destroying!

    • Diana

      *raises hand* This is it for me too. I tear up everytime…

    • Devon

      Love Love Love Love Love it

  • Taylor

    The opening number of Ragtime is quintessential to me and watching it(in the original production) was magical Broadway moments I will never forget.

    • actingup

      I LOVED “Ragtime” top to bottom – but that opening number is AMAZING.

      • Molly

        Haha, shouldn’t you be crhagnig for that kind of knowledge?!

    • Jess

      Agreed! LOVE that show-seen it three times and always always tear up at the end of the first act (don’t want to spoil it). And the opening number is indeed awesome.

  • Tina

    “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. There are days I find myself watching Idina Menzel’s performance from the Tony’s–just because I need that feeling. Knowing she’s in the middle of an asthema attack and the tears in Kristin Chenoweth’s eyes..the show must go on.

    • tracy bluth

      I agree, though “Dancing Through Life” may actually be my favorite Wicked song.

    • Chelsea

      “Wicked” is such a fun show. I love most of the songs, but I think “No Good Deed” is probably my fave. Idina kills.

    • Sara

      Yes!! Defying Gravity! A veeery close second is “For Good” from Wicked.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Now THAT (along with “Anything Goes”) is how you end an Act I!

      I remember the first time I saw the show, I went right to the lobby during intermission and wildly overpaid for the soundtrack right then and there because I was on such a high from the number.

      • LL

        I didn’t see Wicked until a couple years ago, and the understudy for Elphaba was in, and when she HIT IT on Defying Gravity (obviously she wasn’t Idina, but still) I was crying not just because of the emotion in the song but also – how awesome for that girl to get her moment?! That is TOTALLY how you end an Act I!

    • Laura

      Wicked is fantastic. I would have such a hard time picking. Anything that Elphaba sings. Not That Girl tugs at my heartstrings because I identify it. Defying Gravity sends chills down my spine. No Good Deed does both.

  • Lauren

    I just love the big “11:00 numbers” in B’way shows that just bring down the house. My favorites are “Sit Down You’re ricking the Boat” from Guys and Dolls and “Brotherhood of Man” from How to Succeed.

    Of course, nothing will top “One Day More” from Les Mis in terms of emotion and chills. It’s just perfect.

    • M

      Completely agree with you on all three!

    • bird

      I have to agree with you whole-heartedly about “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat”. Quintessential Broadway. Gave me chills when I saw it. Gives me chills thinking about it all these years later.

  • Ktct

    I still remember seeing the original, “Annie” as a kid over thirty years ago. As corny as it is, “Maybe” still gets to me.

    • Cara

      Oh, yeah. And “Tomorrow” gets me, too, every time. And occasionally, even parts of “A New Deal for Christmas” can make me cry.

      • elizabeth

        I would definitely agree on “A New Deal for Christmas.” (Along with many of the others mentioned throughout the comments.)

  • NastiJ

    “One” from “A Chorus Line” is THE quintessential number that defines show-biz

    • meme

      Absolutely. I think I saw the original show 10 times. NOTHING will ever top A Chorus Line.

    • Dina

      of course!

    • Tracy

      Although I’ve seen dozens of shows on Broadway, the song “One”, from A Chorus Line is my definitive Broadway song. Every minute of that show leads up to that particular moment in time, and much like when Angel comes back out on stage at the end of Rent, when Paul rejoins the cast in “One”, I defy anyone to keep dry eyes. Awesome.

      • Chelsea

        Angel rejoining the cast during the finale of RENT is most definitely an ugly cry moment for me.

    • M


    • elizabeth

      Oh, of course, and “America,” still listen to the original cast and it still gives me chills.

      • elizabeth

        Sorry, I agree about A Chorus Line, but my comment was intended to add to the WSS list below, must’ve hit the wrong link.

  • tracy bluth

    “Wilkommen”, “Cabaret”, and “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, the best musical film ever IMO. Of course, when I’m belting them out in the shower I sound nothing like Liza or Joel. Speaking of Joel Gray, how was he in Anything Goes?

  • Chelsea

    I forgot to mention West Side Story! “Somewhere” done right always gives me chills.

    • Meg

      For me it’s the quintet before the fight in WSS. Even sung poorly I can get excited listening to that one.

      • liz

        That was my first choice too

      • Mr. Holloway

        Great choice on the quintet.

        Just saw a production in Tampa and that part always gives me chills.

      • Chelsea

        The most recent cast recording’s Quintet is particularly good as they actually have the Sharks speaking Spanish. It’s awesome.

      • Mr. Holloway

        @ Chelsea

        Agreed. Even though I memorized and know the original recording, that was a nice touch.

    • jk

      West Side Story is my ultimate, and I don’t think this totally applies to quintessential Broadway but I could watch “America” a million times in a row. I would love to see the revival.

  • Carrie #2

    I watched the video clip on the website and while I don’t really like Anything Goes, I looooooove Sutton Foster and it sounds like she’s doing an amazing job as Reno. Anyway, I would have to say most songs from Rent make me tear up, and “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods is another tearjerker.

    • Noodley

      Oh man, Into the Woods! “No More” makes me SOB.

      • ObiHave

        Have to agree there. No More breaks my heart.

    • Sophie

      When I read Children Will Listen I got a shiver down my spine. That is such a poignant musical moment in Into The Woods. I cried. How about Memory from Cats?

  • GHB

    Saw Jennifer Holliday sing “And I Am Telling You” in the original cast of Dreamgirls. Almost blew the roof off that theater!

    • kim in kentucky

      I was thinking of this song also – recently saw a revival of it and the actress who sang it brought down the house!

    • Shannon

      People rose to an ovation in the MIDDLE of Jennifer Holliday singing “And I am Telling You” when I saw it. Still gives me chills!

  • Kevin

    I’m partial to “Run Freedom Run” from Urinetown. A super high energy gospel style number that makes an audience burst into spontaneous ovations when done right.

    • Bobby’s Robot


  • Ken

    There are so many great numbers and performances, but I think the most “Broadway” of all would have to be Carol channing and Angela Landsbury in the title numbers of “Hello, Dolly” and “Mame”. For those of us who lived long enough, the mid 60s on Broadway were the epitome. Dolly, Fiddler, Mame, Cabaret, Man of La Mancha and Hair all playing at the same time with the original Odd Couple, Barefoot in the Park and Plaza Suite around them.

  • Jackie

    I’ve seen ‘Wicked’ maybe five or six times (excessive, I know, but it’s my favorite!), and I cry EVERY time I hear the song ‘For Good’ at the end, when Glinda and Elphaba are saying their goodbyes. Also, ‘Seasons of Love’ makes me sob like a baby.

    • liz

      My daughter dedicated that song to the guests at her sweet 16 and then we used the lyrics as the text for her thank you notes. When we saw the show for the first time the 2 of us were sobbing on each other’s shoulders.

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