Our Fifth Not Remotely Annual Theater Geek Trivia Contest

By Bill Hirschman

So you think you know nearly everything about theater except when Broadway will reopen? (We will hold a betting pool next week). On an unreliably intermittent random basis over the years, we have been running 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 should not look up the answers on the Internet. Don’t bother they’re here; the answers are contained by clicking on this link here.

We’ll also take suggestions for questions for upcoming quizzes and give you credit as the author by emailing us at muckrayk@aol.com.

Some of these are relatively easy; a few only Hap Erstein could answer. (Full disclosure: He provided a few of these.)


Let’s start with some any real theater geek will know:

What musicals were based on these works:
Green Grow The Lilacs
Plays by Plautus
The Once and Future King
Passione D’Amour
Le notti di Cabiria
I Am A Camera
Paul Gallico’s novel The Man Who Hated People which led to Gallico’s reboot The Love of Seven Dolls which led to Lili


These people were cast and were replaced before opening night, if there was one: What were their roles and shows?
—-Faye Dunaway before the show could move to Broadway
—-James Weissenbach
—-Kristen Vigard
—-Britisher Henry Goodman

Besides a debate over quality, what dubious record does Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark hold?

In the middle of a Broadway run, the entire ensemble of which show was replaced because the producer felt they were phoning it in?

Some musicals were turned into films that were either artistic or commercial failures. I’ll list actors who were in the cinematic version. Other than the first item, we’ve omitted the leads who would give it away. You name the show:
—-Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Rigg, Lesley-Anne Down
— Sophia Loren, James Coco, Peter O’Toole
—Buster Keaton, Phil Silvers and Michael Crawford
—-Some may disagree with the word failure: Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, Sacha Baron Cohen, Laura Michelle Kelly
— Ricardo Montalban, Stubby Kaye, John McMartin, Chita Rivera, Paula Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr.
— Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson
— David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries, Estelle Winwood, Franco Nero
—Keenan Wynn, Al Freeman, Jr., Don Francks


All of these people played the same role somewhere in the U.S. or Great Britain. What is the role in what show:
—-Judi Dench, Natasha Richardson, Michelle Williams
—-Michael Cerveris, Taye Diggs, Michael C. Hall, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Rapp
—- Phil Silvers, Ken Jennings, David Alan Grier, Whoopi Goldberg
—Leonard Nimoy, Jan Peerce, Avi Hoffman, Alfred Molina
—-Tony Danza, Jason Alexander, Brad Oscar, Richard Kind, Lewis J. Stadlen
—- Hal Linden, Kelsey Grammer, Jose Ferrer, Keith Michell and, we’re not making this up, Lloyd Bridges

Which actor played all of these roles, although some never made it to Broadway or stayed long: Pancho Villa, Henry II, Benjamin Franklin, and a character inspired by Boris Thomashevsky and Jacob Adler

Which of these actresses did Marnie Nixon NOT dub in full or in part for the movie version of a stage musical: Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Mitzi Gaynor, Deborah Kerr

What musical marked Liza Minelli’s debut in a starring role on Broadway? Two years later, still not a major name, she replaced a Broadway legend in another show. What was the role, the original actress and show

Boris Karloff and Jean Arthur, neither of whom could sing, starred on Broadway in the first musical version of a property with a score by Leonard Bernstein, that later became a beloved hit in a completely different version by different composers. What was it?

In 1673, Molière died after being seized by a violent coughing fit while playing the title role in his play The Hypochondriac). What was the last stage role and the show for:
Gertrude Lawrence
Edmund Kean
Irene Ryan
Laurette Taylor
Mary Martin (just the show, not the role)
Zero Mostel

A Richard Jay Alexander question: Barbra Streisand has made numerous musical films, but in one she and her co-star hated each other off-camera. Who was it and in what film?

Carol Channing was not David Merrick’s first choice for Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! The mega-star they offered it to turned it down, and then she accepted it years later after its success. Jerry Herman even wrote a new song for her. Who was the star?


Mel Brooks won the Tony for best score for The Producers and is the composer-lyricist for many of the individual songs in his films, but he often thanks Glen Kelly includng in his Tony acceptance speech. Why?

A jazz pianist and later a film composer wrote two of the biggest flop musicals of the 1972-73 season, Dude and Via Galactica which was the first show to play at the Uris Theatre (later the home of Sweeney Todd and now Wicked under the name the Gershwin). That’s okay, he already was earning lots of money and kudos as the composer of an earlier hit. Who was he and what was the earlier show?

Mitch Leigh was a jazz musician and advertising jingle writer (“Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee”) who composed three musicals that produced only short or one-season runs. What was his only hit show which some cynics wondered if he really had a stable of employees contribute to it?

Meredith Willson is credited with writing most of The Music Man. But commonly accepted wisdom is that a friend, mentor and acclaimed Broadway composer wrote at least two of the numbers and made a mint publishing the score. Who was it?

What Broadway giant, married eight times, was famous for being addicted to amphetamines through much of his later career which made collaborations “problematic”?

Which book did Oscar Hammerstein NOT write for his musical: Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Carousel, The King and I, Showboat

Rodgers and Hammerstein made a lot of money for writing their shows. But they made a good amount of change fulfilling another job for some of them. What was it?

What was the first musical Richard Rodgers wrote after Hammerstein’s death  and for which he drafted the lyrics himself, and what was uniquely unusual about what he wrote?

Other than Grand Hotel which was overhauled by Maury Yeston, Forrest and Wright penned some musicals based on other people’s musical themes. Which two composers provided the themes for Kismet and Song of Norway . Later they reworked Kismet into an African version called what?


In what play did Nicol Williamson actually stab his co-star with a sword?

Bob Fosse could be legendarily difficult to deal with. In one famous show, he banned the composer from attending rehearsals because they fought so much, especially about the ending. Who was the composer and what was the show?

A multi-faceted talent was so abusive to his cast that one time in rehearsal, he was backing up to the orchestra pit and the troupe let him fall in. Who was it and what show?


Anthony Shaffer has said that when he wrote Sleuth, he had someone’s home specifically in mind as the model for Andrew Wyke’s living room. Whose?

How is the musical Wicked *radically* different from the novel besides not being as dark in tone?

Which of these Dickens novels was NOT made into a musical: Pickwick Papers, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, The Mystery of Edwin Drood

What did these big-budget musicals based on novels have in common: Gone With the Wind, Shogun, Around the World in 80 Days, Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Ethel Merman’s autobiography is famous for her very short chapter on her very short marriage to Ernest Borgnine. Why is that chapter famous?

What was Elizabeth Taylor’s first starring role on Broadway and in what play? Where did the play try out?

Of what iconic play, when it had its first American production in 1956, not on Broadway incidentally, did a visiting New York critic write something like (paraphrasing here), “I have no idea what I just saw; I didn’t understand it at all. But it was great.”

Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore was very frequently produced in the United States for many years during their lifetime. Besides the artistic merit, why was it produced so often?

A real toughie: What do all these people lack in their skill set: Barbara Cook, Carol Burnett, Mandy Patinkin and several South Florida actors who shall remain nameless?


Start with a toughie: Sondheim is always upfront crediting collaborators. While composer David Shire (who composed Baby) rarely gets credit in books and records, Shire wrote an extensive dance number which Sondheim has always acknowledged that Shire wrote. Which song, which show

Original productions of Sondheim shows have not always been financial successes, but one has never been a significant financial success in a full production despite multiple revivals and concert versions in NYC, plus numerous regional productions even by high schools?

What was the first produced Sondheim show to crater at the box office?

What is the one song that Stephen Sondheim complains that he still doesn’t like the lyrics he wrote?

What Sondheim show was foundering in previews in Washington D.C. until visiting George Abbott suggested they change the opening number because the audience didn’t realize what kind of show they were about to see. It was written virtually overnight and the show became a major hit after that. What was the new song and the show?

Similarly, one crucial number in a Sondheim show was simply not working and he wrote two different replacements. The third number became an iconic moment in musical theater history. The first two have been recorded in various albums. What was the name of the final version and the show?

Although he hides it a bit, most of Sondheim’s music for A Little Night Music shares one quality. What is it?

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