Dancing with the Stars, Season 23, Week 9: Showstoppers Night


Remaining six couples bring Broadway to the ballroom before teaming up for a second round; Idina Menzel guest judges.

The last night before a long-awaited showdown, it’s Showstoppers Night on Dancing with the Stars. The opening number is to “On Broadway,” and it ends with the presentation of the guest judge: Broadway star Idina Menzel.

But not all the news is as good; not only is Sharna still out, but we haven’t been sure this afternoon whether or not Gleb Savchenko’s going to be able to dance either. Still, we must wait for news on both, as the individual dances begin:

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough

Samba; “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” –Jersey Boys, performed live

This has been a highly anticipated moment, because the live Broadway cast performance means the return of Mark Ballas to the ballroom! After last week’s fluff, which Derek complained skewed things, this week’s fluff is a lovefest. But it feels a bit less corny after the dance, because the best part of it is absolutely the connection and joy between Marilu & Derek. They pull off a technically difficult samba too. The judge’s comments are another lovefest, especially with Idina revealing she idolized Marilu when she was young. The scores are straight 9s for 36.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. & Lindsay Arnold

Waltz; “Memory” – Leona Lewis performing live

This is a very entertaining fluff, involving Calvin & Lindsay visiting where Cats is playing, learning the choreography, and even putting on the costumes! The number, however, is quite different. Lewis brings the emotion out, and Calvin & Lindsay are left to harness the beauty and delicate feeling of the music. They do it best they can, and there are moments when it really works. During the rest, it doesn’t exactly not work either, but you feel like there could be a touch more. The judges generally are pleased, but Carrie Ann says he could’ve been better with the music. Julianne, on the other hand, thinks it’s one of his best and breaks out the 10. 9s from the others give them 37.

James Hinchliffe & Jenna Johnson

Jazz; “Brand New Day” – The Wiz

I’m not sure they should’ve given this song to the white guy, but there’s nothing James can do about that. Meanwhile, the fluff shows poor Sharna rehabbing and hearing the doctor’s warnings. It actually ends with her unsure whether she’ll dance Monday or not. We’ve already been informed she won’t, though. So out comes Jenna to play Dorothy to James’ wizard instead. He certainly makes for a good wizard, selling the character and leading Dorothy and friends all around the dance floor for a fun romp, even when he misses a step. Julianne reiterates that he should be on Broadway. You can tell the judges would’ve given him 10s, and with the missed step he gets straight 9s for 36 instead.

Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber

Charleston; “If My Friends Could See Me Now” – Sweet Charity

The Charleston, it turns out, is a dance that causes serious problems for Terra. Sasha even has to come up to new versions of the steps she can do. But things women of any size can do include being a diva, and also being appropriately manic. Terra nails that. She also nails the versions of the steps Sasha creates, and since the Charleston allows lifts, they make smart use of them. “That spotlight is way too small for you,” Julianne tells her, and Carrie Ann likewise tells her she outperforms anyone. The latter and Idina even break out the 10s, and 9s from the other two leave them with 38.

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

Waltz; “She Used to Be Mine” – Waitress

A song about a woman in an abusive marriage is obviously very relevant to Jana. Gleb describes the dance as her story about transforming herself and growing stronger. There’s only one problem: his knee’s threatening to take him out. We get more worried as Jana talks about how she doesn’t want to dance with anyone else. Thankfully, Gleb ultimately is able to dance tonight. What results is easily the most emotional performance of the night, a powerful moment of perfection. “You broke me,” Idina tells her, and the other three judges agree. “Here comes the Tony!” Bruno even exclaims as he raises the fourth straight 10.

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Argentine Tango; “Cell Block Tango” – Chicago

Laurie has to be sexy now, Val tells her, and he takes her to Broadway for one of the show’s stars to give her a demonstration. That results in a simile involving peanut butter I think we may not hear the end of for too long. But Val also gives Laurie choreography that allows her to perfectly use her talent as a gymnast. Then she tackles moves and sexy attitude alike with her usual zeal. Her dancing might be a step up from anything we’ve seen from the others tonight. Julianne declares herself speechless, Bruno finds Laurie guilty of “killing that tango,” and really, by the time the paddles come up, it’s a foregone conclusion: straight 10s.

Although I’m still not sure the best performance of the first round wasn’t the extended bumper Allison Holker & Keo Motsepe did to “Falling Slowly” from Once. Idina also takes the stage to perform her new single, “Queen of Swords,” with the female pros dancing accompaniment.

Then comes the Team-Up Challenge, as they call it these days. The remaining six couples split into teams of two to dance together, and each routine must include a section where the celebrities are on the floor alone.

Team Last Men Standing (Calvin & Lindsay and James & Jenna)

Paso Doble; “No Good” – Kaleo

For the final two male celebrities in the competition, Sharna and Lindsay come up with a Western number with Calvin as the sheriff and James as the outlaw. The fluff ends in a humorously bromantic manner, and the number is very much the two of them. Even when Lindsay and Jenna are on the floor with them, it really does feel like the men are dancing more with each other than with them. It works well, though. They have good intensity and chemistry with each other. It’s very charged, and sexy. Idina even admits afterwards she was too distracted by the hotness to judge. Carrie Ann thought they went off the music again, though. Julianne, meanwhile. breaks out the 10. 9s from the other two make for 37, taking both teams up to 73.

Team Cubs (Marilu & Derek and Terra & Sasha)

Jazz; “Big Noise from Winnetka” – Bette Midler

One wonders about Derek, when the fluff reports he has to run off and leave Artem to rehearse with Marilu, without explanation. Though the ladies spent the fluff zealously connecting. This is as much a disco number as a jazz one. Marilu & Terra have the attention together a lot of the time, and a stunt with a huge skirt, but it feels more like an ensemble piece than anything else. It’s one where both ladies are dancing well and having fun, though. “Talk about a showstopper!” Julianne exclaims. The judges give them straight 9s. Terra & Sasha got up to 74, Marilu & Derek up to 72.

Team Sisters (Laurie & Val and Jana & Gleb)

Contemporary; “Bird Set Free” – Sia

Jana spends the fluff talking about how much she loves this song and Laurie. But not only is Gleb’s knee a problem, but their schedules prevent them from rehearsal together at all before Sunday blocking. Ultimately, however they pull it together, from the beginning with the two ladies together in a cage onward. This is done with a level of feeling that spills over into everything, and dancewise it’s brilliant too. This time it’s Idina’s turn to say she’s been made speechless. The other three express similar sentiments before out come the straight 10s again. Both teams end the night with perfect 80s.

Except the night’s not over yet: we still have to do the elimination. The couples line up, and four of them are called safe in quick succession, leaving Marilu & Derek and Jana & Gleb. Given they were seven points apart last week, it seems unlike Derek’s fans can save him from this one. And they can’t. He and Marilu are out. She gives out lots of praise.

Next: The Crown Will Replace Smith and Foy After Second Season

Next week comes the semi-finals! It genuinely is hard to tell which four of these five remaining couples are going to make the final. We find out next Monday at 8.