No Way to Stop It

"No Way to Stop It"
Song from The Sound of Music
Published 1959
Writer(s) Oscar Hammerstein II
Composer(s) Richard Rodgers

"No Way to Stop It" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, but not included in the later film version from 1965.[1] It was introduced in the show by Marion Marlowe, Kurt Kasznar and Theodore Bikel. It is sung by Max Detweiler and Elsa Schrader, with Georg von Trapp joining in later in the song.[2] The song is often compared with, and spoken of in conjunction with, fellow The Sound of Music song, "How Can Love Survive?"; in addition to addressing the relationship between Georg and Elsa, the two songs are the only ones which Max and Elsa sing and both were omitted from the film version of the story. The satiric[3] cynical[4] number, which is about "amoral political compromising" (and in fact an anti-protest song), is theorised by Broadway Musicals: A Hundred Year History to be the first-ever rock song to be introduced to a Broadway musical. The book cites its similarity to songs by the Kingston Trio from around that time.[5] The song, along with "How Can Love Survive" (which was also cut from the film), was cited in The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television as an example of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "wry sense of sophistication".[6] The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity compares the song to So What? from Cabaret, in that they both "articulate [the] general sense of indifference among many constituencies that would eventually allow the Third Reich to expand its influence beyond the point of return". Both these songs include the theme of obsessive circular motion in order to create a sense of inevitability. In the case of "No Way to Stop It", the lyrical motif is the orbit of various satellites, and by the end of the song, it is implied that "I" is the centre of the universe.[2] As a result of "No Way to Stop It" and the duet "How Can Love Survive" (in which the Captain and the Baroness "attempt to work out their competition and the complexities of a dually rich marriage") being cut from the film, class and political tensions are eliminated, secondary characters become less complex, and Maria and the children become most of the film's focus.[7]

Film vs. Musical

In the film, the engagement is called off because Elsa is too rich and powerful, wanting an extravagant life in Vienna, and the Captain, who has fallen in love with Maria, wants a simple life in the country. However, in the Broadway musical, Elsa, who has similar political views to Max (refusing to stand up to the Nazis), continually argues with the Captain (who fervently believes he must take a stand) on this issue. The song clearly shows the three's different motivations, and clashes of egos, and becomes a song about Max and Elsa trying to convince Georg to forget about everything going on around him and just to think about himself. The song's circular melody parallels its circular argument. In the end, Georg decides he simply cannot marry a woman with no political convictions. The "political dispute [was essentially replaced] with a solely personal and individual squabble".[8]


Captain von Trapp has been hearing word that the Anschluss is approaching, and is formulating a method of evading the grasp of the Nazis, who have begun to overrun the country.[9] During this song, the Baroness and Max Detweiler are explaining to him that there is nothing he can do. They think he should be flexible and make the Nazis think that he is on their side. This song is a turning point in the musical for Captain von Trapp, marking the point where he breaks off his relationship with Elsa (the Baroness), leaving him free to marry Maria.

Critical Reception


  1. Brantley, Ben (2000). The New York Times Theater Reviews 1997-1998. The New York Times Book Co., Inc. p. 244. ISBN 9780815333418. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Knapp, Raymond (2005). The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity. Princeton University Press. p. 244. ISBN 9780691118642. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  3. Hischak, Thomas S. (2007). The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780313341403. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  4. Hischak, Thomas S. (2004). Through the Screen Door: What Happened to the Broadway Musical When It Went to Hollywood. Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 158. ISBN 9780810850187. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  5. 1 2 Lewis, David H. (2002). Broadway Musicals: A Hundred Year History. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 9780786481149. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  6. Hischak, Thomas S. (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television. Oxford University Press. p. 696. ISBN 9780195335330. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  7. Wolf, Stacy Ellen (2002). A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical. The University of Michigan Press. p. 227. ISBN 9780472067725. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  8. Wolf, Stacy Ellen (2002). A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical. The University of Michigan Press. p. 219. ISBN 9780472067725. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  9. Miletich, Leo N. (1993). Broadway's Prize-Winning Musicals: An Annotated Guide for Libraries and Audio Collectors. The Haworth Press, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 9781560242888. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
  10. Don B. Wilmeth, Tice L. Miller (1996). Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge University Press. p. 360. ISBN 9780521564441. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
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