The final scene of Lucas Hnath's "The Thin Place" at Playwrights Horizons. It's a bit of a ghost story, so the gasp totally fell in line with what was trying to be accomplished.
Our protagonist tries to telepathically match words with an audience member (just like her grandmother used to do with her) and when an audience member correctly matches the word, the word as written on our protagnosts's notepad held up against her chest, it is spooky as hell. Now imagine you are me, the one who is chosen to try to "hear" the word... and all of a sudden, I DO! Everyone around me thought I was a plant, or in the show, and I had to assure them I was not, how no one else heard the word astounds me.
How was it done pre-Broadway? I've only seen the filmed version, and Hasselhoff is annoyingly goofy, but I thought the scream in-between the melodies of "Sympathy, Tenderness" was quite effective.
qafgenius122 said: "The final scene of Lucas Hnath's "The Thin Place" at Playwrights Horizons. It's a bit of a ghost story, so the gasp totally fell in line with what was trying to be accomplished.
"I just assumed it was a plant when I saw the show. Now I'm even more confused.
Another big one from Cursed Child is when Albus says "Well I wasn't a loser before I met you" to Scorpius.And I think it depends on the audience and the Emmett in Legally Blonde, but I've heard gasps when his makeover is revealed during "Take It Like a Man"
Jumping on the pile with the end of Act 1 in Proof. That sticks with me many years later.Runner-up: In Torch Song Trilogy, when Arnold's mother says she would have aborted him if she knew he would turn out to be gay. Devastating.
In Come From Away, when Bonnie is talking to the rare bonobo chimpanzee about her baby.
In The Inheritance Part 2:
When Leo and Toby crash the wedding and Leo recognizes Henry, and then in the same scene (though to a lesser extent) when Eric tells Toby how he's the reason his dad killed himself
When Curly shoots Jud in "Oklahoma!". There was a huge gasp and confusion from many people that did not understand what just happened. Perhaps because the blood was mostly on Curly's face and nowhere on Jud was what was confusing to most people. I knew the story and that this was a darker take, so I was not surprised. Also, when Jim Parson's said the n word in "The Boys in the Band". I think it was jarring because people identify him so much with one character he played for years and most people didn't know much about the show.
KathyNYC2 said: "A long time ago in a production of Wait Until Dark. The female lead is blind and she is being attacked by the "bad guy" in her apartment and she is trying to hide from him. She has turned off the lights to give herself an advantage so everything is very dark on stage, the audience is squinting trying to see what's going on.......but then the attacker opens another door where both he and the lightcrash back into the scene.The gasp was so loud from the entire audience...people were embarrassed enough to start giggling a bit before everything was back to order. I don't think I have ever heard a gasp again quite like that one." I played Roat in a pretty good production of WAIT UNTIL DARK and the "death leap" always caused a gasp and at one performance someone experienced a heart attack because of it.
(1) I was totally one of those people who gasped and then laughed until I cried at the lion suit bit in Mean Girls. One of my favorite laugh moments in any show. (2) My all-time favorite gasp: the woman sitting behind me at Hamilton, maybe four months into the Broadway run. She gave a very, very loud gasp right after "...I'm the damn fool that shot him." My husband turned around and said "You didn't know!?"
Alex Kulak2 said: "Also, when I saw The Band's Visit, in "Answer Me", when the entire cast sings in unison. I think I've ever been brought to tears by thirteen people harmonizing before." During this part my gf turned to me and held up her arm and it was covered in goosebumps.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore. I'm with Roscoe on this.Shining City's final moment.
Hadestown and Oklahoma have already been mentioned, so I'll give a shout out to a cute one: a couple loud, delighted gasps when Corbin Bleu tap danced on the ceiling in the recent Kiss Me, Kate production.
It’s been said that the original production of Assassins often got gasps once
Lee Harvey Oswald came onstage. After spending the whole show with the other, less famous (with the exception of John Wilkes Booth) assassins, suddenly an audience likely filled with people who vividly remembered the day of JFK’s assassination were now reliving the events through the killer’s eyes.On the topic of Assassins, I imagine Booth’s dropping of the N word often gets its fair share of gasps. We’re taught to think of him as a monster when we’re young, but suddenly, The Ballad of Booth shows him in a seemingly fair and unbiased light, displaying that he had some legitimate grievances with Lincoln. But not too long after we find ourselves sympathizing with the most hated actor of all time, he shows his true colors, with one simple phrase displaying that whatever other reasons he had, the man was largely motivated by his racism, and just like that, our sympathy is gone. It’s a brilliant moment, on par with a similar lyric at the end of If You Could See Her Through My Eyes from Cabaret.The Broadway production added some new staging that I’m sure got their fair share of gasps as well. I’m referring to Booth shooting himself in the head onstage (previously a blackout and sound effect was used), seeing Charles Guiteau’s hanging corpse (they didn’t really bother to hide that it’s an obvious dummy, but it gets the job done, and much like with Booth, it’s much more disturbing than the original blackout), and having the footage of JFK’s assassination projected onto Oswald after he fires the shot that killed the president. Those are all brilliantly horrifying visuals that no doubt shocked many audience members.
A non spoiler example would be the first time Hades speaks in Hadestown. Before he comes down those steps, our soloists for the evening consists of women and two tenors, Hermes, being played André De Shields with his instantly recognizable high pitched voice, and Orpheus, who’s music consists of a lot of very high falsetto. So when Hades finally speaks, hearing Patrick Page’s extraordinarily low voice can send shivers down an audience’s spine. A similar thing happens with the opening line of Hey, Little Songbird where we hear just how low that part can really go. And man does it go low. And of course, as others have mentioned
Orpheus turning to see Eurydice
One that’s a bit different from the other examples listed comes from Spongebob Squarepants when the titular character climbs the ladders near the end while belting. Particularly the moment when he flips upside down in a pretty dangerous looking stunt. I can’t remember whether or not the Broadway production added a safety harness, but I specifically remember that the original version in Chicago had Ethan Slater doing it without one, and there’s footage where you can clearly hear the audience reacting in what sounds like a mix of fear and awe.Tootsie recently had some comedic moments that simultaneously shocked the audience and had them cracking up
The beauty of Jeff Sums it Up is the sheer out of nowhere nature of hearing the phrase “you ****ed it up”. The original film never once uses the F word, and it initially seems like the show is following that path. But then, Act 2 starts off with an absolutely shocking barrage of F bombs that had the audience in stitches.There’s another brilliant moment that diverges from the original film in This Thing. Much like Jeff’s out of nowhere profanity, seeing Max ripping off his shirt to reveal a Dorothy tattoo stopped the show cold. When I saw it, I think the audience may have laughed and clapped for a full minute. And while this moment isn’t as shocking since it occurs in the film, seeing Jeff enter immediately after Max’s declaration of love had a similar effect with another extremely long round of applause and laughter.
Sweeney Todd has a few examples, all relating to the same plot point, one of which was mentioned
The reveal that the Beggar Woman was Lucy all along can easily get a gasp, but Sondheim realized that there wasn’t a consistent spot where the audience collectively realizes the truth. The musical cue to the same tune as “And my Lucy lies in ashes” was mentioned before, but that’s only one of several reveals. Before that, there’s the more subtle moment when the Beggar Woman’s frantic music slows down and turns into the music of the ball from Poor Thing. And of course, when Sweeney finally see’s her face. The reason why Sondheim created the Beggar Woman’s Lullaby was because he realized there wasn’t a general consensus on when the audience figured out the twist, and because of that, tried to create one with the song. He admitted that it didn’t work out that way, but decided that it wasn’t a problem since everybody in the audience will have found it out by the time that Sweeney does, either before him, or at the same time.
When I saw Newsies, people gasped and went "ooooh" at Katherine being Pulitzer's daughter. There was even a "Damn, girl!" The boat reveal at the beginning of The King and I, gasps and applause. I also teared up a bit when Kelli O'Hara first appeared.
Another one from Next to Normal, at the end of "You don't know (reprise)" when the doctor 'reminds' Diana about her son.
KathyNYC2 said: "A long time ago in a production of Wait Until Dark. The female lead is blind and she is being attacked by the "bad guy" in her apartment and she is trying to hide from him. She has turned off the lights to give herself an advantage so everything is very dark on stage, the audience is squinting trying to see what's going on.......but then the attacker opens another door where both he and the lightcrash back into the scene.The gasp was so loud from the entire audience...people were embarrassed enough to start giggling a bit before everything was back to order. I don't think I have ever heard a gasp again quite like that one." I played Roat in a pretty good production of WAIT UNTIL DARK and the "death leap" always caused a gap and at one performance someone experienced a heart attack because of it.------I was sitting in the first row of Wait Until Dark- starring Lee Remick- when that leap from the dark happened- I was 13 years old and was seeing a matinee with a friend. My shoe was halfway on my foot- and when the leap happened- I also gasped and my foot went forward and my shoe ended up on stage. I had to reach up on the stage- briefly interrupting the show- to retrieve it. It was done very quickly and I don't think it was noticed much- but I will never forget that moment.
Without question the end of American Son. Still think about that gasp.
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