Well after half a year of research I've finally begun my Catherine the Great play, titled "The Rimsky-Korsakov Affair." The titular character, Ivan Rimsky-Korsakov was one of Catherine the Great's lovers (i.e. "favorites") but cheated on Catherine with her best friend Countess Praeskoja Bruce.
I keep reading that Ivan, an accomplished violinist, was an ancestor of the composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but I'll be damned if I can find anything that explains exactly how they were related. It isn't a direct father-son connection, but that's all I know, so far.
With my culturally-impoverished Philistine upbringing, it's a safe bet that I first heard the name of the composer in the Beatles' Yellow Submarine - the head Blue Meanie's mini-me says the name at 0:33 -
Although I also discovered a fascinating ad campaign from the 1970s that uses the name as an exclamation in response to carbonated-beverage-induced euphoria:
I plan to use the composer's music during the play's production, which is obviously an anachronism, but as my friend Bruce observed: "nobody will know." And it's not unprecedented - I used the music of Gottschalk in my JANE EYRE production, even though that composer's work would not have been performed in the early 19th-century drawing room of Thornfield Hall - Gottschalk was born in 1829.