By Bill Hirschman
So you think you know nearly everything about theater except why Spiderman: Will Someone Please Turn Off The Light managed to run so long? On an intermittent random basis, we will run our exclusive no-cheat trivia contest. There are no prizes other than to be able to brag that you aced it. You are on the honor system – you cannot look up the answer on the Internet. Don’t bother; the answers are contained by clicking on this link here.
To see our first installment of the quiz, click here
We’ll also take suggestions for questions for upcoming quizzes and give you credit as the author by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the “I could have been a contender” or “God, I didn’t get it” Department, we all know some of the more egregious decisions to pass over the originating Broadway performances in a show when the piece moved to film, notably Angela Lansbury losing Mame inexplicably to Lucille Ball, Ethel Merman watching Rosalind Russell in Gypsy, Julie Andrews fuming that Audrey Hepburn had to be dubbed for My Fair Lady and, go figure, Carol Channing hearing Jerry Herman’s music twisted out of shape to fit Barbara Streisand (let the flames begin). But there have been many others. What performer created these roles that went to someone else in the movie house?
—Elizabeth Taylor’s Maggie and Paul Newman’s Brick in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
—Marilyn Monroe’s Cherie in Bus Stop
—Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole in The Lion in Winter
—Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson in Long Days Journey Into Night
—Katharine Hepburn and Paul Scofield in A Delicate Balance
—Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly in Inherit the Wind
—Marlon Brando’s Sakini in Teahouse of the August Moon
—Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
—Ann Margaret as Kim in Bye Bye Birdie
What slightly unusual quality do all these Broadway shows all have in common: Meet Me In St. Louis, State Fair and White Christmas.
Being a Stephen Sondheim fanatic is a calling not a burden. So let’s start with a few questions about The Master.
What is Sondheim’s middle name?
What did Sondheim’s mother write to him in a note when she underwent heart surgery and thought she might die?
Which Roman dramatist provided the inspiration for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum…. (“You-rip-adees? You-mend-adees?) Slacker’s Hint: Mickey’s dog.
Dean Jones starred in Company when it opened on Broadway and is heard on the original cast album. But director/producer Harold Prince allowed him to drop out after only a handful of performances in favor of Larry Kert. Why?
One of the inspirations for Follies was a Life magazine photo of a famous ruin of a movie star of yore standing in the rubble of a demolished theater. Who was she?
Sondheim famously does not come with the initial idea for most shows, but one project was, indeed, his own fascination with a film. Which show was it? If you know the name of the film, you are spending too much time around theaters.
Who did murder Sheila in The Last of Sheila? Extra credit: How many times did you have to see this movie before you understood the denouement?
Which Sondheim show prominently featured prolonged nudity in its initial production, but not since?
Name the four Sondheim shows whose New York premieres featured performances by Lee Remick; Martin Charnin and Marilyn Cooper; Jason Alexander, Giancarlo Esposito and Tonya Pinkins; Brent Spiner in the Broadway production and (in the workshop but not the Broadway bow), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Kelsey Grammer.
And now a few about Richard Rodgers:
Richard Rodgers recycled his only hit song from the relative flop, Me and Juliet, “No Other Love Have I” and used it as part of what other project?
Rodgers wrote with several lyricists after Hammerstein died. What shows did he write with Stephen Sondheim, Sheldon Harnick, two with Martin Charnin, and with himself?
Oklahoma has been revived several times in New York. When Christine Andreas played Laurey in 1979, publicists touted her as the first person playing the role on Broadway to have this quality – although not the last.
And now a mixed bag from Santa:
Legend has it that Joseph Kesselring originally conceived of his play, Arsenic and Old Lace, as what?
Playwright Tom Stoppard is known for his brilliant use of language, but English is not his first language. What is?
In what language did Irishman Samuel Beckett write his plays?
With what product was James Caldwell, the benefactor of the Caldwell Theatre, most associated with?
Anthony Burgess, the nov elist who wrote A Clockwork Orange, penned the translation of a classic play that was most frequently used in the second half of the 20th century. Before that the most common version was by Brian Hooker. What is the play?
Elia Kazan persuaded Tennessee Williams to rewrite the last act of Cat On a Hot Tin Roof in its Broadway version for several reasons. Over time, he gave it a marginally more hopeful ending and cut a couple of gamier speeches. But what was the primary, most obvious and most commercial change?