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Showtunes, Scores and Standards
This quiz is about a certain type of 'classical' music - that of the shows and of the stage.

Showtunes, Scores and Standards

Music, that great mood-enhancer, has been used onstage and on screens of all shapes and sizes (as soon as technology allowed) in support of setting an atmosphere and helping tell the story. Here's your chance to wallow in classic, if not perhaps strictly classical music ... 'classics of their kind', certainly!

1.
A nice easy question to get us started ... who wrote the original stage-musical The Sound of Music, which was soon adapted into a film that is now re-run on television every Christmas?
Lerner & Lewe
Rodgers and Hammerstein
George & Ira Gershwin
Jerome Kern
But of course!
2.
Another landmark musical by the same team broke fresh ground in a number of ways: Oklahoma!
Which of the following is the ONLY one that is UNTRUE?
The show begins not with a conventional chorus 'number', but with one silent character onstage while another character sings a solo from offstage in the wings
The show's title consists of the one-word name of a geographical entity followed by an exclamation mark
The show ran for over 2,000 performances in its original run
The show includes a characterful but daringly suggestive 'number' called Doin' What Comes Naturally
This song is from Annie, Get Your Gun (by Irving Berlin, but set in a comparable environment ~ understandably for a North American musical ~ and hence quite easily confused).
Oklahoma!'s opening number (Answer 1) is O what a beautiful mornin'
3.
What is the connection between the name German Reed and the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas?
The German Reed was a new woodwind instrument favoured by Mendelssohn, and which Sullivan, after his studies in Leipzig, introduced into the pit orchestra for the Savoy Operas, one of which includes a joke about players of this instrument. It fell out of fashion and its part is now usually played by the bassoon
Mr and Mrs Thomas German Reed ran a family-friendly musical theatre establishment in London through which Gilbert & Sullivan originally came into contact
German Reed was going to have been the name of a character in one of the shows, but Gilbert changed it because, although it sounded unlikely enough for a character (and nobody by that real name would be likely to sue him, for instance), he felt that 'German' somehow sounded too 'solid' ~ and 'Reed' too weak ~ in combination
German Reed was the name of the set designer for most of the Savoy Operas. There is doubt as to whether this was his real name; he may have taken it up as a nickname (somewhat like 'Mark Twain') after an argument over what material to use for the roof of Rose Maybud's cottage (in Ruddigore) which would look authentic while being less prone to catch fire under the stage lights
Apparently one waggish commentator, obviously on a similar cultural wavelength, likened the G & S partnership to the career of Moses ~ insofar as that it had been 'nurtured among the Reeds'!
4.
In terms of English-language entertainment, P G Wodehouse springs to mind principally as the creator of Jeeves (manservant and factotum to Bertie Wooster); but Wodehouse's other writing activities included writing over 250 lyrics for the musical theatre, chiefly in America. With which of these leading composers was he NOT associated at one time or another, so far as we know?
Jerome Kern
Cole Porter
Sigmund Romberg
Richard Rodgers
Each of the others is known to have collaborated; Wodehouse's song Bill was added into Kern's Show Boat, for instance
5.
Which would you regard as the Odd One Out of this selection of musical theatre shows?
Porgy and Bess
West Side Story
Guys and Dolls
Sweeney Todd
Guys and Dolls, though a splendidly 'fun show' with many wonderful numbers in it, does not have the gravitas of the others, and has never quite been regarded as tantamount to opera in the same league as them (e.g. to have been recorded in one or another medium with classically trained singers in the lead roles).
You might equally fairly have argued for Porgy and Bess as being ground-breakingly centred in Afro-American culture, and for its fusion of classical and jazz music; West Side Story as being an updated 'take' on the Romeo and Juliet narrative, with then-contemporary social commentary built into it along with the gang choreography sequences; or Sweeney Todd as the only story set East of the Atlantic. But at least this Question may have encouraged you to recognise that Musicals are 'not all froth'!
6.
A lesser-known byway of musical theatre is the Industrial Musical ('brand' shows for internal, in-company consumption by staff only) ~ what one might perhaps refer back to, in the spirit of the medium as a whole, as the 'cheesy face of capitalism', in the sense of somebody caught privately raiding the midnight fridge, their surprised mouth framed by telltale smears of So-&-So's cream cheese!
After which intro, you may be fractionally less astonished to consider the following titles of some such spectacles. These were almost all genuine, and no doubt much burnished and appreciated ~ apart from one impostor; which ONE is the fake?
The Bathrooms are Coming (American Standard, 1969)
Got to Investigate Silicones (General Electric, 1973)
You Belong in a Dodge (Dodge, 1969)
Our Golden Sun (Sun Products Corp., 1965)
Sun Products Corp. was not founded until 1975, and originally under another name; the front three Answers are all given as genuine. Apart from limited-pressing souvenir records given to employees, most evidence of the shows has disappeared into oblivion, but we can well imagine the Americans (particularly) developing the idea of the 'corporate anthem' onto as big a scale as they could which would be both glitzy and heart-warming (and even informative) for their staff. 1957's Chevrolet in-house musical allegedly cost six times as much to stage as the iconic public musical My Fair Lady in the same year. Taste and technology have since moved on and these shows have given way to IT-based presentations on screens in front of the employee's nose; whether this represents progress of civilisation, is probably not for us to judge!
7.
Noel Coward was an iconic British entertainer, writer of plays and films and music, with over 300 songs to his credit. One of the songs in the following list has been linked with the wrong show: which one?
I'll see you again ('Bitter Sweet', 1929)
I wish I wasn't quite such a big girl ('Pacific 1860'; 1946)
Some Day I'll Find You ('Hay Fever', 1925)
Three Juvenile Delinquents ('Ace of Clubs', 1950)
Hay Fever was a comedy with no music; this number comes from Private Lives (1930)
8.
A good tune has a way of coming round again and again ... not only within a number or a show, but into these from outside, deliberately or otherwise: there are many alleged examples of earlier composers' melodic shapes cropping up (for instance) in the scores of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (such as I don't know how to love him bearing a striking aural resemblance to the slow movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto).
But the other, generally happy, side of this cultural coin is that some whole musicals have been created which tell the story, and/or 'recycle' the music, of earlier classical composers or other musicians. As with many questions in this Quiz, the list that follows is mainly fine but with one mismatch: which is the wrong one?
Kismet is based on themes by Borodin
Lilac Time is based on the music of Schubert
A Song to Remember is based on the life and music of Chopin
Fiddler on the Roof traces the life story of Niccolo Paganini, the violin virtuoso
Paganini is not the Fiddler in this show!
9.
It begins to seem as though a musical can be fashioned from, or around, almost anything by those who know how. Which of the following workplaces is NOT (again, so far as we know) the setting for such a show?
A cigarette factory
A match factory
A pyjama factory
A furniture factory
The factory-based shows (in order) are Bizet's Carmen (a fully-fledged opera, but it counts in this context as a 'stage musical'!), Matchgirls (Owen & Russell, London, 1966: about Annie Besant and the Bryant & May 'phossy-jaw' strike) and The Pajama Game (Adler & Ross, 1954).
Work-based issues are obviously central to most people's lives, but it takes some talent to turn these successfully into engaging entertainment; these shows suggest the effort can be worthwhile
10.
Classical musicians who may still baulk at listening to 12-tone works by Arnold Schoenberg, may be happier with music by Claude-Michel Schoenberg (no relation) and Alain Boublil ~ probably best-known originally for their adaptation of Les Miserables (English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer). Another of their heavyweight hits was Miss Saigon: which of the following (once again) is the rogue UNTRUE item about this show?
It is based on an updated version of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, to the time of the Vietnam War
A key point in the story involves as near a simulation as possible of a helicopter landing live onstage
Depicting, as it does, a time and place of high international tension, it turned out to be very appropriate that this musical opened in September 1989, right between the Tiananmen Square massacre and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe
The initial London run extended to over 5,000 performances
There were over 4,000 performances, but not as many as 5,000, over just beyond 10 years; all the other technical, artistic and historical-coincidental details offered are valid

 

Author:  Ian Miles

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