In need of a holiday gift for a theater-addicted friend or family member? I’ve divided this year’s suggestions into five categories: “Hamilton” stuff, tickets, books, cast albums and video.
Unless you are willing to pay skyrocketing premium prices for a performance months into the distant future, buying “Hamilton” tickets is probably not an option. However, you can easily purchase a copy of the Grammy-winning cast album; “The Hamilton Mixtape,” in which well-known music artists reinterpret the score; “Hamilton: The Revolution,” a book exploring the making of the musical; or “Alexander Hamilton,” the Ron Chernow biography that inspired the musical. You can also order multiple shirts, baseball caps, a tote bag, a water bottle, a wall calendar and so on. For babies, there’s a onesie and “Lullaby Versions of Hamilton” (which can be downloaded digitally).
You’ll be sure to impress with tickets to the upcoming Broadway revival of “Hello, Dolly!” starring Bette Midler. But you might also consider making a gift of a membership to a not-for-profit theater group like the Public Theater or Playwrights Horizons (which makes buying tickets easier and cheaper), a multi-show subscription for a theater company’s entire season or a gift certificate to buy discounted tickets at TKTS.
“The Critics Say,” my new book in which dozens of theater critics discuss how they go about writing reviews and weigh in on the profession’s uncertain future, is highly recommended by almost every member of my immediate family. Besides that, Jennifer Ashley Tepper’s third volume of “The Untold Stories of Broadway” was just released, as was the latest book by the must-read musical theater historian Ethan Mordden, “When Broadway Went to Hollywood,” which focuses on the complex relationship between stage musicals and the movies.
Some new cast albums include the current Broadway revival of “Falsettos” (which marks the acclaimed musical’s first full recording), the recent revival of “She Loves Me” (featuring Laura Benanti’s extraordinary vocals), the short-lived new musical “Bright Star” (which has a winning bluegrass score by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell) and the City Center Encores! production of Lerner and Loewe’s “Paint Your Wagon.”
With a subscription to the streaming service BroadwayHD, you gain access to a library of filmed theatrical performances. Also, well-known classical theater companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Stratford Festival have been releasing plenty of well-shot video recordings in recent years.