In need of a last-minute holiday gift for a theater-addicted family member, friend or co-worker? Below are some recommended items divided by categories.
There is probably no better (or more expensive) way of impressing someone than snagging tickets to an upcoming performance of “Hamilton.” More than four years since it opened on Broadway, “Hamilton” is still the hottest show in town. That being said, a more reasonable alternative would be to obtain seats to a trendy new show such as “The Inheritance,” “Jagged Little Pill,” “American Utopia” or “Freestyle Love Supreme.”
You might also consider making a gift of a membership to a not-for-profit theater group (which makes buying tickets easier and cheaper), a multi-show subscription for a theater company’s upcoming season or a gift certificate to buy discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Duffy Square.
My three-year-old son’s favorite cast album of the year is” “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.” Since he watched the Broadway cast perform a medley on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, he has been listening to – and dancing along with – the songs “I Can’t Get Next to You” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” multiple times a day.
Some other worthy new cast albums include “Hadestown,” Moulin Rouge!,” “Be More Chill,” “American Utopia” and “Oklahoma!” To impress a real theater fan, seek out “A Strange Loop,” Michael R. Jackson’s offbeat and uncensored autobiographical musical, which enjoyed a hit Off-Broadway run over the summer at Playwrights Horizons.
Since launching several years ago, the streaming video service BroadwayHD has since substantially upgraded its subscription library (which originally consisted mainly of antiquated Shakespeare adaptations) with new recordings of stage musicals such as “42nd Street,” “An American in Paris,” “Falsettos,” “The King and I” and “Kinky Boots.”
For the classical theater buff, new productions of Shakespeare plays produced at London’s Globe and Royal Shakespeare Company or Ontario’s Stratford Festival are available for purchase digitally or on disc.
The hottest new theater book of the year is “Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch,” a rich and entertaining biography of the one-of-a-kind stage personality and Tony winner, who died in 2014 at age 89. Some other interesting new titles include Julie Andrews’ “Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years” and Rob Kapilow’s “Listening for America: Inside the Great American Songbook from Gershwin to Sondheim.”
If there is a toddler or child who you would like to introduce to the world of Broadway, look no further than the illustrated alphabet book “A is for Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z” or the new “Frozen” edition of “How Does the Show Go On?,” a hardcover, color photo-packed introduction to the theater by Disney Theatricals president Thomas Schumacher.