A Comprehensive Guide to Theatrical References in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1
On February 18, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returned to television and laptop screens across the world for the premiere of its fourth season. The Emmy Award-winning show is renowned for its ability to reference the aesthetic and social idiosyncrasies of the late 1950s, which, naturally, include a bevy of theatrical references. So enamored is the show with the stage that much of the third season centered on a dreamed-up Broadway production, and season 4 promises to be filled with even more theatrical delights.
In celebration, we went on an exhaustive hunt for (almost) every single theatrical reference from the first three seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Here you will find our coverage of season 1, with seasons 2, 3, and 4 to follow in future installments. How many references did you spot upon first viewing?
Note: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel films primarily in New York and features numerous theatrical performers in supporting roles. Because of the sheer number of actors involved, they have been omitted as references; for this piece, a reference is defined as an explicit call-out to the theater or to something produced by the theater, such as a song on the soundtrack coming from a musical theater cast recording. If a performer does not play a theatrically oriented character, they are not singled out in this list.
"On a Wonderful Day Like Today" – The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd
This rousing number from The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd plays during one of the most iconic scenes of the pilot, as the titular Midge Maisel goes about her perfectly planned errands as a prescient housewife.
"Come to the Supermarket (in Old Peking)" – Cole Porter's Aladdin
Speaking of iconic scenes, "On a Wonderful Day Like Today" is immediately followed by the voice of the inimitable Barbra Streisand performing "Come to the Supermarket (in Old Peking)" from Cole Porter's Aladdin, which underscores Midge and then husband Joel in a mad dash to a downtown comedy club.
"Dance Only With Me" – Say, Darling
"Dance Only With Me," a song written for the show Say, Darling, has gone on to become something of a maudlin American standard; fitting, then, that it underscores the opening of episode 2, as Midge picks up the pieces after her husband Joel leaves her for his secretary.
"What's in It for You" – Tenderloin
The driven duet from Bock and Harnick's Tenderloin plays as Midge's father, Abe Weissman, confronts Joel's father Moishe, in episode 3.
Watch the original trailer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel below:
"Comedy Tonight" – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The opening strains of "Comedy Tonight," the iconic opening number of Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, plays as Midge's manager Susie wheedles her way into the legendary Friars Club.
"On the Sunny Side of the Street" – Lew Leslie's International Review
This delightful tune from early Broadway can be heard in the park scene of episode 4 as a busker plays outside of a protest Midge attends in Washington Square Park.
"The Gentleman Is a Dope" – Allegro
This standout song from the much maligned Rodgers and Hammerstein venture Allegro plays as Midge makes the decision to remove her wedding ring once and for all.
"Isn't This a Lovely Day" – Top Hat
This Irving Berlin standard plays as Midge and Susie make a pact over a basket of French fries to take the comedy world by storm.
"I Enjoy Being a Girl" – Flower Drum Song
This Rodgers and Hammerstein cover by Broadway favorite Sutton Foster signifies Midge's bright new mood in episode 5 as she rolls into the B. Altman department store in search of employment.
"Isn't It Enough" – The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd
Greasepaint is back just in time to underscore Midge's first day running a makeup counter for B. Altman.
Watch the season 1 recap below:
"Life Upon the Wicked Stage" – Showboat
Yet another Broadway cover by the lovely Blossom Dearie plays as Midge punches into work, the gloss of the new opportunity having faded.
"Ya Got Trouble" – The Music Man
Robert Preston's strident baritone sounds as Joel takes his former secretary and current mistress, Penny, to see The Music Man. While sitting in the audience, he comes to the realization that he has made a massive mistake he is helpless to undo, while elsewhere Midge entertains a party of her younger co-workers.
"Hey There" – Pajama Game
In episode 6, Midge's brother Noah (played by Broadway's Will Brill) comes to visit, and the siblings share a cigarette on the fire escape as Rosemary Clooney's cover of the beloved Pajama Game ballad plays. Its delicate sound pairs perfectly with their gentle heart to heart.
"All the Things You Are" – Very Warm for May
Charlie Parker's big band cover of "All the Things You Are" plays as Midge comes to Susie's apartment to talk through if the party circuit counts as stand-up comedy or not.
"Carousel Waltz" – Carousel
Episode 7 is, remarkably, the only episode in the entirety of season 1 to not have a show tune on the soundtrack! The tradition is reclaimed in the final episode of the season as the opening Carousel Waltz from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel plays on the Central Park carousel. Midge and Joel decide to formally divorce during their son's birthday party, spinning round and round while sharing nips from a flask.
"It's Only a Paper Moon" – The Great Magoo
Joel brings Midge and their son home after the party, and Midge puts "It's Only a Paper Moon" on the turntable before the two passionately reconnect.