Skip to content




Faithful readers will recall that last week I gave some selections from my new book BRAINTEASERS FOR BROADWAY GENIUSES – now available, as they say, “in fine bookstores everywhere.”

If you can find a fine bookstore anywhere

The questions came from the podcast that I’ve been doing most Sunday mornings for the last 14 years. James Marino is the host of, where I share airspace with eminent critic Michael Portantiere.

As I said last week, you had an advantage that listeners didn’t have: I cherry-picked questions that have a Masterworks Broadway recording or two (or more) cited in the questions or the answers.

So …

1Q. What musical nominated for seven Tonys (but won none) mentions a total of eight presidents in three of its songs: the first, third, seventh, 16th, 30th, 31st, 33rd and 34th? 

(Considering when the musical was produced, the lyricist went about as far as he could go.)

1A. The musical is the 1957 Lena Horne vehicle JAMAICA. “Yankee Dollar” mentions Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln. “Napoleon” cites Coolidge and Hoover. “Push De Button” mentions Truman and Ike – the nickname for Eisenhower, as you would have learned if you’d attended the excellent current production of EISENHOWER: THIS PIECE OF GROUND.

2Q. One hit 1960s musical had a producer, a director-choreographer, a bookwriter-lyricist, a composer and an entire cast who had either previously worked on – or would eventually work on – a musical (or musicals) that closed out of town.

What was the hit musical on which they all worked?

Give the names and out-of-town closings that each person either had or would experience.

2A. The musical is the 1966 hit I DO! I DO!

It was produced by David Merrick, who had HOT SEPTEMBER close in Boston a year earlier.

Its director-choreographer was Gower Champion, who’d have PRETTYBELLE close in Boston in 1971.

Bookwriter-lyricist Tom Jones and composer Harvey Schmidt wrote COLETTE, which closed in Denver in 1982.

The entire cast of I DO! I DO! consisted of “only” Mary Martin and Robert Preston. Martin had already experienced two musicals that had shuttered on the road: NICE GOIN’ in 1939 and DANCING IN THE STREETS in 1943. Robert Preston had endured WE TAKE THE TOWN closing out of town – meaning Philadelphia – in 1962. A dozen years later, he would close THE PRINCE OF GRAND STREET in Boston.

3Q. Who was the first person to have won a competitive Oscar in the 20th century to be heard on a 21st-century original cast album?

3A. Granted, on the original cast album of THE PRODUCERS, Mel Brooks sings only one couplet: Don’t be stupid! Be a smarty! Come and join the Nazi party!”

Still, he qualifies, for he was an Oscar-winner for the screenplay of the first film of THE PRODUCERS. (In fact, he repeated the line he had performed in the original 1968 film.)

4Q. One musical is set in a locale that’s a mashup of the fifteenth and twentieth states to be admitted into the union.

What’s the locale?

What musical takes place there?

4A. Mississippi was the twentieth state to be admitted into the union and Kentucky the fifteenth. Merge them, and you get Missitucky, where FINIAN’S RAINBOW takes place.

5Q. A 20th-century musical that starred sisters had a score written by brothers.

Who were these women?

Who were these men?

What was the musical?

5A. In 1973, The Andrews Sisters starred in a musical written by the Sherman Brothers: OVER HERE!

6Q. It’s a Tony-winning musical that has a unique overture. Its first song included the name of its leading male character. The second and third songs had not one but two names given to the show’s leading female character.

What were the names of the songs?

From what overture do they come?

6A. MAN OF LA MANCHA starts with “I, Don Quixote” and then segues into “Dulcinea” and then “Aldonza.”

The first song does indeed name the leading male character, while the second is the name that the Don gives the local prostitute. However, her real name is Aldonza.

7Q. This real-life personality was prominently mentioned in a 1990s Tony-nominated Best Musical. One of her husbands was mentioned in a song in SOUTH PACIFIC; a later one was mentioned in LITTLE ME.

Who is she?

Who were the husbands?

In what songs were they mentioned?

7A. “Marilyn Monroe” is the opening song of BLOOD BROTHERS, the 1992-1993 Tony-nominated Best Musical.

She was once married to Joe DiMaggio, the New York Yankee who’s mentioned in SOUTH PACIFIC’S “Bloody Mary.”

Her next husband, Arthur Miller, was cited in LITTLE ME’S “The Truth.”

8Q. A minor movie personality was mentioned in what became Broadway’s longest-running musical. Later, he was also mentioned in the show that eclipsed that musical as the longest-running one.

Who is he?

What are the musicals?

In what songs is he mentioned?

8A. GREASE held the long-run title from 1980 through 1983, when it was eclipsed by A CHORUS LINE.

In the former hit, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” has Betty Rizzo sing “As for you, Troy Donahue.”

In the latter hit, “Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love” has Bobby sing “If Troy Donahue could be a movie star, then I could be a movie star.”

9Q. A song from a very famous musical mentions people who hailed from Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, Texas and Wisconsin.

What is the name of the song?

From what musical does it come?

9A. “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” from FUNNY GIRL had chorines, playing doughboys, establish that they come from these states before one claimed to be Private Schwartz from Rockaway.

10Q. A novel from the 1930s was made into a film in the 1950s – but there the sex of the protagonist was changed from a man to a woman.

When the musical version of the novel opened in the 1960s, the protagonist was a man again – but a woman wound up stealing the show.

What’s the name of the property that never changed?

Who’s the woman who stole the musical?

10A. Jerome Weidman’s 1937 novel I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE had Harry Bogen as its antihero, but the 1951 film had Susan Hayward playing the character who was renamed Harriet Boyd.

For the 1962 musical, Harry Bogen returned; Elliot Gould played him. While he was at it, he fell in love with the woman who stole the show from him: Barbra Streisand.

11Q. We’re talking about two consecutive Sondheim musicals. What would a character in Act Two of the first one say after hearing the first two words sung in Act One of the second one?

11A. “Hats off!” – the first words sung in FOLLIES, Sondheim’s 1971 musical – could spur Joanne, a character in his previous musical COMPANY, to ask, “Does anyone still wear a hat?”

12Q. She won a Tony in a musical where she appeared in just one scene and appeared in only one song (and its encore). The song was obviously of great importance to her, for she ensured that when she died its name would be carved on her headstone.

Who is she?

What’s the song?

In what musical did she sing it?

12A. “The Grass Is Always Greener” – meaning the title of the song that Marilyn Cooper (1934–2009) sang with Lauren Bacall in WOMAN OF THE YEAR (for which each won a Tony) – can be seen on her headstone in Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, NY.

13Q. You’re riding in the passenger seat of a car, and you notice a strange sound coming from the front of it. The driver says to you, “I can’t figure out what that sound is.” You respond by giving a line that was heard in Wichita’s one and only burlesque theater.

What’s the line?

13A. In GYPSY, After Tessie Tura complains that her G-string “just don’t bump when I do,” Mazeppa tartly responds, “Maybe there’s something wrong with your bumper.”

(Granted, in the musical, the context is substantially different from what it would be on a car ride.)

And for those of you who felt too overtaxed by all these brainteasers and would like to say to me, “You could drive a person crazy!”? I thought I’d make it easier for you, with one last question:

In what year does the musical 1776 take place?

… um, I’ll have to get back to you on that …

Peter Filichia can be heard most weeks of the year on As this column suggests, BRAINTEASERS FOR BROADWAY GENIUSES is now available at The Drama Book Shop and Amazon.