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October 29, 2010

To celebrate record-breaking ticket sales for 'The Wiz,' a little quiz

Who knew a 1970s musical with a not exactly great reputation would become the runaway best-seller at Center Stage?

The company's vibrant revival of the "The Wiz" -- sensibly approached by director Irene Lewis for exactly what it is, rather than what it might have been -- has just become the best-selling production in Center Stage history.

The show surpassed the previous record-holder, "Ain’t Misbehavin' " (about $310,000), and "The Wiz" still has another week or so to ease on down the road to establish an even bigger record.

To celebrate the production's success, I thought it would be ever so fun to have a little theatrical quiz. I can't offer a great prize, other than cyber-immortality for the winner, but I hope that will be enough. Here goes:


One of the cool things about "The Wiz" is its long entertainment blood line.

There's the original book (by L. Frank Baum), which was turned into a movie musical ("The Wizard of Oz") and then a Broadway musical ("The Wiz") that was turned into another movie musical (that horrid flick with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson).

So, how many other musicals can you name that involve at least three different incarnations (literary, theatrical, cinematic, whatever)? I'll start:

"Anna and the King of Siam" was a book that became "Anna and the King of Siam" the movie, which inspired "The King and I," the Broadway musical, which was turned into "The King and I," the movie musical.

Now it's your turn. Whoever offers the most examples wins the fame: 


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:31 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens


Well, there's always the obvious. :-)

Hairspray the movie inspired Hairspray the Broadway musical inspired Hairspray the movie musical.

Obvious is good. And so is this example. Thanks. TIM

My favorite thing ever at Center Stage was the 1985 production of "She Love Me."
The 1963 musical was based officially on the Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo but essentially on (my favorite movie), Ernst Lubitsch's "The Shop Around the Corner," which directly inspired the MGM musical "In the Good Old Summertime" and a movie by Nora Ephron that's was intended as an appreciation to "The Shop Around the Corner" but ended up kind of desecrating it.
And now I'm thinking of Martin Short singing the musical's title song on the David Letterman show

Cool. Thanks. TIM

Aw, ice cream beat me to it! I love She Loves me/Shop around the Corner/Good Old Summertime.

(and, agree, the "You've Got Mail" version was the worst-- who knew a 90s movie version of a 30s play could be LESS fair to the female lead?)

Auntie Mame - book, play, movie and then as Mame, a musical play and musical movie.

Hello Dolly - started as The Matchmaker (Thornton Wilder) as a play, then a movie with Shirley Booth, then the infamous Jerry Herman musical with Carol Channing, then the delightful (to some) movie with Barbara Striesand. So, those three would be play, movie, musical

Excellent. Thanks. TIM

Hairspray--Magazine article, movie, musical,movie musical
Annie--comic strip, musical, movie
Dracula--book, movie, musical
Elmer Gantry--book, movie, musical (w Robert Shaw)
Importance of being Ernest--play, movie, musical (Ernest in Love)
Evita--concept album, musical, movie
Fanny--movie (French), musical, movie of musical (without songs)
Jeckle and Hyde--book, movie, musical
Little Night Music--movie (Smiles of Summer Night), musical, movie musical
Titanic--book, movie, musical
Tree Grows in Brooklyn--book, movie, musical (Shirley Booth)
Mary Poppins---book, movie, musical

Show-off. TIM

Just thought of another obscure one -

Breakfast at Tiffanys - novella by Truman Capote, then the movie that gave us "Moon River," then the musical "Holly Golightly," which starred Mary Tyler Moore and Richard Chamberlain and closed out of town before it ever opened on broadway.

Fab. TIM

The Madwoman of Chaillot was a play, then a celebrated movie in the 60s, then a musical in the 70s (Dear World with Angela Landsbury).

Very astute. Thanks. TIM

Jesus Christ Superstar--concept album, musical, movie
Kiss of the Spider Woman--book, movie, musical
Lil Abner--comic, musical, movie
Aida--opera, movie, musical
Beauty and the Beast--fairy tale, movie (Cocteau), animated movie, musical
Fiddler on Roof--short stories, musical, movie
Pal Joey--short story, musical, movie musical
Producers--movie, musical, movie musical
Ragtime--book, movie, musical
Picnic--play, movie, musical (Hot September)
Tommy--album, movie, musical
Two for the Seesaw--play, movie, musical
Wonderful Town--book, play, musical, movie, musical movie
Zorba--book, movie, musical
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas--short stroy, musical, movie
Cabaret--short story, play I Am a Camera), musical, movie
Camelot--book, musical, m ovie
Grass Harp--short story,play, musical
Man of LaMancha--book, musical, movie
Showboat--book, musical, movie (Robeson), movie (Gardner)
Carousel--play (Liliom), musical, movie
Carrie--book, movie, musical
Color Purple--book, movie, musical
Damn Yankees--book, musical, movie
Fantastiks--play (Rostand), musical, movie
I Remember Mama--book, movie, TV, musical
Jane Eyre--book, movie, musical
My Fair Lady--play (Pygmalian), movie, musical, movie musiacl
Once Upon a Mattress--fairy tale, musical, TV musical (twice)
Superman--comic, movie, TV, musical

Holy Broadway, I think we have a champion. TIM

A famous show, The Sound of Music, but less well-known pedigree: Maria von Trapp's 1949 autobiography, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers inspired two films: The Trapp Family, a 1956 West German film about the von Trapp family, and its 1958 sequel, The Trapp Family in America (Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika). These films, in turn, inspired producers Leland Heyward and Richard Halliday (husband of the Broadway star Mary Martin) to commission a play from Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse (authors of the fabulously successful play, Life with Father ) which was to be presented with Trapp family songs. Eventually it was decided to make the show a full-blown musical with songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein (their final collaboration) which debuted in 1959, starring Mary Martin. In 1965 an Academy-Award winning film (starring Julie Andrews) was produced. So book to 2 movies to unproduced straight play to musical to movie. (And then, of course, Mary Martin's son, Larry Hagman, became a wildly popular TV actor with his role as J.R. on Dallas.)

More up to the minute, the novel Ardiente paciencia by Antonio Skármeta was made into a film by the author, but later adapted into a more successful film, Il postino (directed by Michael Radford), and just in September Los Angeles Opera presented the world premiere of an opera on the same subject - Il postino by Daniel Catan.

I just don't have the energy to track down all the versions of The Phantom of the Opera, or the multitude of works derived from the Judeo-Christian Bible.

That was plenty of energy. Thanks. TIM

Here's another one - The Yearling.

Book, movie and musical. (Some of early Striesand's most memorable recordings are from the musical.)

@ice cream: You wouldn't happen to be vanilla, would you?

Saw "She Loves Me" at Center Stage years ago. Fun show (and if you know it you'll get ice cream's p-nym, and my question)!

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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