Skip to content




For the last 14 years, I’ve spent most of my Sunday mornings on It’s James Marino’s podcast that also features eminent critic Michael Portantiere.

One of the segments on the show that receives a good deal of attention is the brainteaser I give at the end of each broadcast. Dozens of regular listeners try very hard to answer the question I give them each week. Many do.

I’ve dispensed so many questions that I’ve accumulated them into a book that was recently published by Applause Books. BRAINTEASERS FOR BROADWAY GENIUSES is now available, as they say, “in fine bookstores everywhere.”

If you can find a fine bookstore anywhere

(Well, there’s always The Drama Book Shop and Amazon …)

Just how difficult are the questions? Let’s see how well you do by them. You’ll have an advantage that listeners didn’t receive: I cherry-picked questions that have a Masterworks Broadway recording or two (or more) cited in the questions or the answers.

If you are befuddled by one, two or more brainteasers, I’ll provide the answers next Tuesday, which will be your good-news day.

If you know that that line comes from “The Man I Love” – written for but discarded from LADY BE GOOD – then you should do very well with the following questions:

1. 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.)

2. 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.

3. 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?

4. 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?

5. A twentieth-century musical that starred sisters had a score written by brothers.

  • Who were these women?
  • Who were these men?
  • What was the musical?

6. 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?

7. 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?

8. 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?

9. 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?

10. 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?

11. 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?

12. 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?

13. 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?

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

In what year does the musical 1776 take place?

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.