Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Broadway's annual Tony Awards were awarded a few weeks back (anyone remember who won?), and we thought that it might be fun to test your musical knowledge about Broadway plays that launched hit songs. This won't be EVERY Broadway play from the beginning of time, that would be way too tough, but only those from 1960 on. And all of the hits were at least Top 30, so this weeks quiz shouldn't be all that difficult.

So get out your Playbill because the orchestra's tuning up and the curtain's about to rise.


1. "Grease" first hit Broadway in June of 1972 after its initial 1971 debut in Chicago and an Off Broadway run that started in February of '72. The play ran for 3,388 performances, a Broadway record until "A Chorus Line" surpassed it a few years later. It won 7 Tony Awards. Three of its biggest songs were not in the original play but were written when the play was made into a movie. It's since had one not-so-successful sequel that starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield (and what has he done lately?). So the question is, what song from "Grease" that was a Top 5 hit, was in the original play as well as the original movie?

2. This play starred Carol Channing (that should be enough to give it away right there) as a New York matchmaker and was first mounted on Broadway in 1964. That same year, a legendary jazzman took the title song straight to # 1 on the singles chart right at the height of Beatlemania. If you know the play, then you know the title of that # 1. So what was it and who was the jazz performer who took it to the top?

3. The actors got nude in this play (again, I just gave it away) and its subtitle was "The American Love-Rock Musical". No less than 4 songs became hits - One made it to # 1 while another went to # 4. A third was a # 3 hit and the fourth went to # 2. It should be easy to guess the title of this 1968 Broadway production which has been performed all over the world. There have been over a thousand vocal and or instrumental versions of songs from this hit play. So what's its name already?

4. She got her start on Broadway before becoming a Hollywood legend. She's a two time Academy Award winner and has 12 Grammy Awards, which includes a Lifetime Achivement Award, a Grammy Legend honour and two Hall of Fame Awards. Her Broadway debut was in the play "I Can Get it For You Wholesale" in 1962. After a highly successful album and several appearances on TV shows, she returned to Broadway in 1964 to star in "Funny Girl" as Fanny Brice, a part she also played in the hit movie version. This performer took one of the most famous songs from "Funny Girl" to # 5 on the singles chart in 1964. It became her signature song even though she's since had six # 1 hits. Can you name the singer and her first chart hit?

5. It was a play that launched the careers of Murray Head and Yvonne Elliman, although it began as an album BEFORE it was a play on Broadway and in London's West End. This 'rock opera' was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice (OK I gave it away again) and two Top 30 hits came out of it. One, sung by Elliman, made it to # 28 and Murray Head took the title song to # 14 on the singles chart (although it took two separate attempts to achieve that success). The 'rock opera' eventually became a movie that was released in 1973 with Canadian Norman Jewison directing. A second film adaptation was released in 2000 and apparently yet a third version is due to be released in 2014. Can you name the album/play/movie?


1. "Grease", "Hopelessly Devoted To You" and "You're The One That I want", all major hits, were NOT in the original Broadway production. They were written specifically for the film that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The only hit that was in "Grease" from the beginning (and written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the co-creators), was "Summer Nights", sung by Travolta and Newton-John. That song went to # 5 on Billboards' Hot 100 chart in 1978. Both the title song, sung by Frankie Valli and "You're The One That I Want", sung by John & Newton-John were # 1 hits.

2. If you said "Hello Dolly" by Louis Armstrong, then you really know your Broadway. Louis' version was # 1 for the week of May 9,1964 and replaced The Beatles "Can't BUy Me Love" which had been # 1 for the previous 5 weeks. Louie was 63 at the time and his # 1 hit was replaced the next week by Mary Wells and "My Guy". Louis Armstrong died 2 days after his 71st birthday on July 6, 1971. The Broadway version of "Hello Dolly" won 11 Tony Awards in its first run. The movie version starred former Broadway legend Barbra Streisand.

3. The play was "Hair" and the four hits included the 1969 title song sung by The Cowsills (# 2); Three Dog Night took "Easy To Be Hard" to # 4 also in '69 while Oliver sang "Good Morning Sunshine" (# 3). The biggest hit from "Hair" was the Fifth Dimensions' version of "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" which was # 1 for six weeks beginning with the week of April 12, 1969.

4. Barbra Streisand starred in "Funny Girl" on Broadway and on film and in 1964, made her debut on the Billboard singles chart with the play's signature song "People". Barbra's most recent movie role is that of Roz Focker, the mother of Ben Stiller's character of Gaylord Focker in "Meet The Fockers" and "Little Fockers".

5. "Jesus Christ SUperstar" is the correct answer to this question. Yvonne Elliman, who performed on the original album and on Broadway, is best known for her 1978 # 1 hit, "If I Can't Have You" from "Saturday Night Fever". Murray Head's first release of "Superstar"in 1970 only made it as far as # 74. A re-release the following year saw the song zoom up to # 14on the singles chart. In 1985, Head hit the charts again with "one Night In Bangkok" which went to # 3. That song was from the musical project "Chess" and was written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Alvaeus of ABBA fame along with Murray's old "Jesus Christ Superstar" pal, Tim Rice.

So, how'd you do?

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