Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Game: Six Degrees of Broadway

Since you are reading a theatre blog, you've probably at least heard of the play Six Degrees of Separation.  Among that play's ideas is that all of us are connected to everyone else by six relationships or less. 

OK, so maybe you haven't heard of the play - it is a wonderful one - but I'm pretty sure you've heard of Kevin Bacon.  A few years ago, a game came out called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" which pretty much followed the idea in the play, only it pertains specifically to how all of Hollywod is connected to Mr. Bacon by six films or fewer.  For example: Sally Field to Kevin Bacon:  Sally Field was in Steel Magnolias with Julia Roberts (1 degree).  Julia Roberts was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon (2 degrees).  There are two degrees of separation between Sally Field and Kevin Bacon.  Get it?

So, I got to thinking... Six Degrees: The Broadway Edition.  It would follow the same premise, only there would have to be a few adjustments, as live theatre is not permanent like a film. 

1.  Each degree can only have to do with the original cast and production team of a play or musical or play revival or musical revival. 
2.  It can also have only to do with the original theatre where a production opened.

In short: Each degree can be based solely on what would have appeared on the Broadway Opening Night Playbill.  (Thanks to reader David for bringing up the need for this clarification!)

These would be examples of valid "degrees."  James Gandolfini in God of Carnage.  Patti LuPone in the 1987 revival of Anything Goes.  The 2009 revival of West Side Story opened at the Palace Theatre.
  • Patti LuPone played Reno Sweeney in the 1987 revival of Anything Goes and Ethel Merman played Reno Sweeney in the original production of Anything Goes.

These would NOT be valid "degrees."  Sally Field in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?  The 39 Steps at the Helen Hayes Theatre. 
  • Chita Rivera was in Kiss of the Spider Woman and Vanessa Williams was in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
OK.  Let me do three examples: easy, medium and difficult.  And remember: there may be several ways to do these.

Easy: Adam Pascal to Kristin Chenoweth

Adam Pascal was in the original cast of RENT with Idina Menzel. (1 degree)  Indina Menzel was in Wicked with Kristn Chenoweth (2 degrees).

Medium: Patti LuPone to Montego Glover

Patti LuPone was in the 2008 revival of Gypsy with Laura Benanti.  (1 degree)  Laura Benanti was in the 2002 revival of Into the Woods with Chad Kimball.  (2 degrees)  Chad Kimball is in Memphis with Montego Glover. (3 degrees)

Difficult: Wicked to Grind

Wicked starred Joel Grey.  (1 degree)  Joel Grey starred in the revival of Chicago with Mary Ann Lamb.  (2 degrees)  Mary Ann Lamb was in The Goodbye Girl with Carol Woods. (3 degrees)  Carol Woods starred in Grind.  (4 degrees)


Here are a few for you to try:


1.  Spring Awakening to American Idiot.
2.  Billy Elliot to Victor/Victoria.
3.  Pippin to Sweet Charity (orginal production)

4.  Angela Lansbury to Matt Cavenaugh.
5.  Twyla Tharp to the revival of Big River.
6.  Barbara Walsh to Xanadu.


7.  The Will Rogers Follies to Mary Stuart Masterson.
8.  Shrek: The Musical to Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
9.  Rosie O'Donnell to Rock of Ages.

Super Difficult:

10.  Jerry Orbach to the 2007 revival of Company.

Look for the answers in this Sunday's Bits and Pieces.

Have any you want to stump the rest of us with?  Send them to me via email at  I look forward to hearing from you!  Jeff


  1. Oh, I love this game. What's the ruling on various workshops? Could I say, for instance, Rosie O'Donnell produced Taboo, which featured Asa Somers, who played Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine at 2nd Stage in 2007 in Next to Normal, which starred Amy Spanger as Feeling Electric at NYMF in 2005, who went on to star in Rock of Ages?

    Also, Jerry Orbach to Company 2007, in my opinion, isn't that hard, if you remember where Promises, Promises and Falsettos played originally :D.

    Losing Vanessa Williams in Spiderwoman makes it more difficult though; she was the easiest way to link Sondheim, Kander and Ebb and Herman.

    I personally like to make it as LONG as possible, going crazy and pulling out all the stops.

  2. Hi, David!

    Good to hear from you again! Valid points all, and certainly not "novice" level.

    Hmm...I guess I need to be even clearer on the rules. The only "eligible" productions are original Broadway productions and original revival productions. It doesn't include workshops, pre-Broadway, subsequent casts, or productions that moved to different theatres. I guess I should have said "based only on Opening Night Playbill information." I'll make that change now!

    Thanks for taking the time! And send (via email) other "6 Degrees of Broadway" puzzles and I'll post them the next time I do a similar blog! I think that would be very cool!


  3. Kay, this is really old...but I just stumbled upon this
    Shrek->Beauty and the Beast:
    Sutton Foster-> Young Frankenstein
    Roger Bart->The Frogs
    Burke Moses-> Beauty and the Best


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...