Can you find every reference?

Brush up your musical theatre knowledge with every Easter Egg in the song “A Musical”, the big, sparkling, smash of an Act 1 number in Civic’s production of Something Rotten! on stage April 28th – May 21st. 



While Nostradamus sings “Some make you happy, some make you sad, Some are quite big, some quite small,” in the original Broadway production of Something Rotten!, the actors revealed puppets that look like the ones used in Avenue Q. The review on called Civic’s 2015 production of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical “flawless fun, if a bit bawdy” and was given 4 out of 4 stars.

The Fantasticks

Right after the previous reference, the line “Some are too long, some are just plays with song” has a similar chord progression to the song “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.” Below is a look at Civic’s 1991 production. 


Les Misérables

This is the longest and most obvious reference. For about a minute, Nostradamus sing-speaks in a style like the conversations in the musical. He also name-drops the show in the line “I believe it’s pronounced Misérables. The show made its GR community theatre debut on the Civic stage in 2014 with sharing these highlights: “On My Own” as performed by Eponine (Molly Jones) and the all-cast rendition of “One Day More”. In summer of 2022, Civic’s School of Theatre Arts presented Les Mis as the first “Camp In Concert” event. 


Nice Work If You Can Get It

The final song of the show’s first act, “Fascinating Rhythm,” is referenced by Nostradamus in the line “Feel that fascinating rhythm moving to your feet.”


West Side Story

At the end of the dance break, the horns play a brief part of melody of the song “Tonight.”


The Music Man

You’ll hear a take on “Seventy Six Trombones” and the Whaddya talk, whaddya talk” reference that is a nod to “Rock Island.” Civic has produced the show multiple times, most recently in 2006 as seen below.


Immediately after the above reference, Nostradamus sings “It’s a musical, a Seussical? No a musical, with girls on stage.” Here’s a look at our production from 2017!



Nostradamus uses the melody of “There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame” to sing: “We’ve got snappy repartee, And the women are risqué, And the chorus boys are kinda gay.”   From the 2015 review about Civic’s production: “It’s a complex combination billed as a comedy, drama, musical and romance. And you can also call it a war story as big as the “South Pacific.”



After the ensemble sings “A true blue musical”, the next few seconds of music sound like the start of “All That Jazz.”



The line “Stand back, It’s a musical” has the same melody as “Stand back, Buenos Aires.”



During the line “Some musicals are very serious,” the instrumental sounds like the opening song of “Seasons of Love”.


Jesus Christ Superstar

The line “All the glittering musical, a musical” shares its melody with the start of the song “Superstar.”


Sunday in the Park With George

Following the previous callback, the quick line of ascending notes references the score in “Putting It Together.” This is the show’s shortest reference at two seconds.



The song parodies “Hard Knock Life” in the line “It’s a musical for us.” Here’s a glimpse of our production of Annie from 2017… previously, Civic produced the family-favorite crowd-pleasing show in 2002, 1995, and 1984.


Guys and Dolls

The horn section plays the line “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from the song “Luck Be a Lady.” Civic produced the show in 1968 and again in 1997. Below are a press photo (’97) and production photo (’68).



Sweet Charity

Right after Nick and Nostradamus sing “Oohs, ahhs, big applause, With everyone cheering for us,” the music plays motifs that can be found in “Overture” and “Big Spender.”


Hello, Dolly!

During the final chorus, the music slows down to a pace similar to the title song, “Hello, Dolly!” The review of Civic’s 2011 production called the ensemble number “Hello, Dolly!” at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant in Act 2 the highlight of the show. The show was previously produced in 1989 with Penelope Notter in the title role before she became Civic’s longtime Associate Director.



After Nostradamus’ sings “Take it from me,” there are brief, twinkling notes that reference “Memory.”


Sweeney Todd

Near the end of the number, the low brass plays a short phrase from “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.” Civic produced the show in 2002.


A Chorus Line

At the end of “A Musical”, both actors and music replicate the iconic moment in  “I Hope I Get It” where the actors hold their headshots in front of their faces (as seen in the 2006 production photo below).  The 2006 production re-opened the theatre after a major renovation, and many of the cast members have gone on to work professionally in regional theatre, national tours, off-Broadway, and on Broadway. Prior to that, the show was produced in 1986 on the Civic stage.


So there you have it… a star lit, won’t quit, big hit musical… or twenty! See if you catch all of the references in real time when YOU come see Something Rotten! on stage at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre from April 28th – May 21st! Get your tickets today at


Written by Lindsey Gram, Calvin College. Edited by Noddea Skidmore, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.