You Gotta Know These Musicals

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You Gotta Know These Musicals

Each musical's title is followed by its composer, its lyricist, the author of its book, and the year in which it premiered on Broadway or the West End.

  1. West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein; Stephen Sondheim; Arthur Laurents; 1957). Riff and Bernardo lead two rival gangs: the blue-collar Jets and the Sharks from Puerto Rico. Tony, a former Jet, falls in love with the Bernardo's sister Maria and vows to stop the fighting, but he kills Bernardo after Bernardo kills Riff in a "rumble." Maria's suitor Chino shoots Tony, and the two gangs come together. Notable songs include "America," "Tonight," "Somewhere," "I Feel Pretty," and "Gee, Officer Krupke." Adapted from Romeo and Juliet, it was made into an Academy Award-winning 1961 film starring Natalie Wood.

  2. The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber; Charles Hart & Richard Stilgoe; Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber; 1986). At the Paris Opera in 1881, the mysterious Phantom lures the soprano Christine Daae to his lair ("The Music of the Night"). Christine falls in love with the opera's new patron, Raoul, so the Phantom drops a chandelier and kidnaps Christine. They kiss, but he disappears, leaving behind only his white mask. Adapted from the eponymous 1909 novel by Gaston Leroux, it is the longest-running show in Broadway history.

  3. My Fair Lady (Frederick Loewe; Alan Jay Lerner; Alan Jay Lerner; 1956). As part of a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering, phonetics professor Henry Higgins transforms cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a proper lady. After Eliza falls for Freddy Eynsforth-Hill, Higgins realizes he is in love with Eliza. Eliza returns to Higgins' home in the final scene. It is adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion.

  4. Cats (Andrew Lloyd Webber; T.S. Eliot; T.S. Eliot). The Jellicle tribe of cats roams the streets of London. They introduce the audience to various members: Rum Tum Tugger, Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Mr. Mistoffelees, and Old Deuteronomy. Old Deuteronomy must choose a cat to be reborn, and he chooses the lowly Grizabella after she sings "Memory." It is adapted from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.

  5. Evita (Andrew Lloyd Webber; Tim Rice; Tim Rice; 1978). Che Guevara narrates the life story of Eva Peron, a singer and film actress who marries Juan Peron. Juan is elected President of Argentina, and Eva's charity work makes her immensely popular among her people ("Don't Cry for Me Argentina") before her death from cancer. It was made into a 1996 film starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.

  6. The Mikado (Arthur Sullivan; W.S. Gilbert; 1885). The Mikado [Emperor of Japan] has made flirting a capital crime in Titipu, so the people have appointed an ineffectual executioner named Ko-Ko. Ko-Ko's ward, Yum-Yum, marries the wandering musician Nanki-Poo, and the two lovers fake their execution. The Mikado visits the town and forgives the lovers of their transgression. It includes the song "Three Little Maids From School Are We."

  7. The Sound of Music (Richard Rodgers; Oscar Hammerstein II; Howard Lindsey & Russel Crouse; 1959). Maria, a young woman studying to be a nun in Nazi-occupied Austria, becomes governess to the seven children of Captain von Trapp. She teaches the children to sing ("My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi"), and she and the Captain fall in love and get married. After Maria and the von Trapps give a concert for the Nazis ("Edelweiss"), they escape Austria ("Climb Ev'ry Mountain"). It was adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1965 film starring Julie Andrews.

  8. Fiddler on the Roof (Jerry Bock; Sheldon Harnick; Joseph Stein; 1964). Tevye is a lowly Jewish milkman in Tsarist Russia ("If I Were a Rich Man"), and his daughters are anxious to get married ("Matchmaker"). Tzeitel marries the tailor Motel ("Sunrise, Sunset," "The Bottle Dance"), Hodel gets engaged to the radical student Perchik, and Chava falls in love with a Russian named Fyedka. The families leave their village, Anatevka, after a pogrom. It is adapted from Tevye and his Daughters by Sholem Aleichem.

  9. Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers; Oscar Hammerstein II; Oscar Hammerstein II; 1943). On the eve of Oklahoma's statehood, cowboy Curly McLain and sinister farmhand Judd compete for the love of Aunt Eller's niece, Laurey. Judd falls on his own knife after attacking Curly, and Curly and Laurey get married. A subplot concerns Ado Annie, who chooses cowboy Will Parker over the Persian peddler Ali Hakim. Featuring the songs "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "Oklahoma," it is often considered the first modern book musical.

  10. Cabaret (Fred Kander; John Ebb; Jon Masteroff; 1966). Cabaret is set in the seedy Kit-Kat Club in Weimar Berlin, where the risqué Master of Ceremonies presides over the action ("Wilkommen"). The British lounge singer Sally Bowles falls in love with the American writer Cliff Bradshaw, but the two break up as the Nazis come to power. Adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1972 film starring Liza Minelli and Joel Grey, it is based on Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin.

You Gotta Know These Deserts

NAQT has a quota for geography questions at all levels of play; these are the deserts that have been most frequently asked about in our past packets.

  1. Antarctica (5.4 million sq. mi.) Because it is covered with (solid) water, it is somewhat surprising that Antarctica is considered a desert, but it is classified as such due to its lack of precipitation. Players should be familiar with its tallest mountain (Vinson Massif, in the Ellsworth Mountains), its active volcano Mount Erebus, the surrounding Ross and Weddell Seas, and the Ross Ice Shelf. Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole (1911), while Englishman Robert Scott died trying to reach it. Ernest Shackleton had to abandon his ship, the Endurance, during an attempt to cross Antarctica on foot.

  2. Sahara Desert (Northern Africa; 3.5 million sq. mi.) The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, but its largest hot desert. Players should know the Atlas Mountains (which bound the western Sahara on the north) and the Sahel, a savannah-like strip that bounds it on the south. It is dominated by rocky regions (hamada), sand seas (ergs), and salt flats (shatt) and dry river valleys (wadi) that are subject to flash floods. Its most asked-about inhabitants are the Berbers and Tuaregs.

  3. Atacama Desert (Chile; 70,000 sq. mi.) The Atacama's chief claim to fame is the rain shadow of the Andes which makes it the driest (hot) desert in the world. The desert was the primary bone of contention in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883, Chile defeats Peru and Bolivia) that sought to control its nitrate resources (which were necessary for the production of explosives).

  4. Kalahari Desert (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa; 360,000 sq. mi.) The Kalahari is a large region, not all of which is arid enough to qualify as a desert. It is known for its red sand, large game reserves (meerkats, gemsbok, springbok, steenbok), and mineral deposits (notably uranium). Most famous are its San Bushmen and their click language.

  5. Mojave Desert (U.S.; 25,000 sq. mi.) The Mojave is bounded by the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges along the San Andreas and Garlock Faults. It lies between the Great Basin and the Sonoran Desert and it contains the lowest and driest point of North America, Death Valley. It is most strongly associated with the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia).

  6. Gobi Desert (China and Mongolia; 500,000 sq. mi.) The Gobi, Asia's second largest desert (after the Arabian Desert), is bounded on the north by the Altai Mountains. It is known for its role in the Silk Road trading route and the Nemegt Basin, where fossilized dinosaur eggs and human artifacts have been found.

  7. Rub' al-Khali (Arabian Peninsula; 250,000 sq. mi.) Its name means "Empty Quarter" in English and this desert can be considered the most inhospitable place on earth. It is known for the world's largest oil field, the Ghawar, and for once being part of the frankincense trade.

  8. Namib Desert (Namibia and Angola; 30,000 sq. mi.) The Namib, a coastal desert, is known for its bizarre Welwitschia and medicinal Hoodia plants. It is thought to be the oldest desert in the world.

  9. Painted Desert (Northern Arizona) The Painted Desert, which is shared by Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks, is known for its colorful, banded rock formations.

  10. Negev Desert (Israel; 4,700 sq. mi.) The triangular Negev covers the southern half of Israel.

  11. Taklamakan Desert (China; 105,000 sq. mi.) The Taklamakan is an extremely cold, sandy desert known for splitting the Silk Road into branches running north and south of it. It is bounded by the Kunlun, Pamir, and Tian Shan mountain ranges.

  12. Great Sandy Desert (Western Australia; 140,000 sq. mi.) Part of the Western Desert, and the ninth largest in the world.

Oddly, half of the world's ten largest deserts don't make this frequency-based list: the Arabian Desert (#3, which includes the Rub' al-Khali), the Patagonian Desert (#5), the Great Victoria Desert (#6), the Great Basin (#7), and the Chihuahuan (#8).

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