The Many and Varied Cultural References in Mr. and Mrs. Fitch


Both the title and the characters of Douglas Carter Beane's new play, Mr. And Mrs. Fitch — which opened last night at Second Stage and stars John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle — come from a Cole Porter song, itself based on a society couple of Porter's invention, which blew up into a society-column hoax in 1931. (Here the Fitches are gossip columnists — so now you know roughly what the play's about.) Ranging high and low, from The Little Dog Laughed to the book for Xanadu, Beane's theater work is inspired — by which we mean, inspired by many, many other works of art. Herewith, our best effort to list every famous novel, poet, personality, movie, and TV show referenced directly or indirectly in his new play — which is highly amusing but sometimes has the feel of Will and Grace on crystal meth. Use it as a handy checklist when you go. Or, if we missed anything, which we surely did, just let us know.

1. The Bible
2. Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
3. Richelieu, play by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
4. The Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
5. Babes in Arms, starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland
6. Popeye
7. A Clockwork Orange
8. Johannes Gutenberg
9. Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
10. David Mamet
11. The Dead Sea Scrolls
12. America: A Prophecy by William Blake
13. Rabelais
14. Jonathan Swift
15. Anthony Trollope
16. Laurence Sterne
17. William Hogarth
18. Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain
19. Bertolt Brecht
20. The Music Man
21. Henry James
22. Edith Wharton
23. Jane Austen
24. The Carol Burnett Show
25. Sweet Charity
26. The Jewish humor of Morey Amsterdam
27. Boss Tweed
28. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
29. J.P. Morgan
30. Jesus Christ
31. The Brady Bunch
32. The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
33. Glenngarry Glenn Ross by David Mamet
34. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
35. The Charleston
36. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
37. "Mr. and Mrs. Fitch" by Cole Porter
38. "Night and Day," by Cole Porter
39. The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot
40. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
41. "Strike Up the Band" by George and Ira Gershwin
42. El Dorado
43. Edgar Allan Poe
44. Voltaire
45. Lifetime Television for Women
46. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
47. Before Sunset by Richard Linklater
48. "Meditation 17" by John Donne
49. Moliere
50. Peter Pan
51. Romeo and Juliet
52. Tales From Shakespeare by Mary and Charles Lamb
53. The Book of "Ecclesiastes"
54. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters by J.D. Salinger
55. Maya Angelou
56. Anna Deavere-Smith
57. Moises Kaufman
58. Seabiscuit
59. "Headless Man in Topless Bar," the famous New York Post headline
60. "Camptown Races" by Stephen Foster
61. "The Torture Memos," by John Yoo
62. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
63. The Year of Living Dangerously
64. Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim
65. Jacqueline Susann
66. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand ­(Kindle edition)
67. Sherlock Holmes
68. A Midsummer Night's Dream
69. The Book of "Revelation"
70. Walt Whitman
71. Ingmar Bergman
72. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
73. "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot
74. Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf by Edward Albee
75. "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" by Bob Dylan
76. Edgar Lee Masters, poet
77. "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson
78. Sarah Palin
79. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
80. Celia Cruz
81. Iris Chacon
82. Shakira
83. Selena
84. Eydie Gorme
85. "Perdoname, Soy Loca," by Mercedes Sosa
86. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
87. "Call Me Irresponsible" by Frank Sinatra