December 3, 2008

A Holiday Gift List for Theater Lovers

The power shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us but if you’re still looking for gifts to buy the theater lovers in your life (or to put on a wish list for someone to get you) here are 12 treats, one for each day of Christmas, that I’d love to find under the tree if I hadn’t already caved in and bought most of them for myself:

Tickets. D’uh. The one thing every theater lover wants is to see more shows and this year, the Theatre Development Fund is making it easier to satisfy that longing by offering TKTS Gift Certificates that can be use to buy reduced-price tickets on the day of the show at any one of the three TKTS booths in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They come in $25, $50 and $100 denominations.

Theater Ticket Album. It can be hard to keep track of all your tickets if you see lots of shows but this handy holder from the That’s My Ticket website keeps them all in one place. Or it could double as a keepsake filled with the stubs of all the shows seen in one season. $11.90 at that’

Kristin Chenoweth’s “A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas” CD. I have a weakness for Christmas music (and an embarrassingly large collection of Christmas CDs to prove it) but even if you tend to jingle to fewer of those bells, it’s hard to resist a collection of carols and holiday songs by Broadway’s inimitable cheer-bringer Chenoweth. $10.99 at

The Anton Chekhov Collection. This DVD collection brings together some of the world’s best classical actors (like Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Patrick Stewart) in fully-filmed and beautifully-performed BBC productions of some of the theater’s most beloved plays (such as The Seagull, The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya). What theater junkie could ask for anything more? $53.99 at

The August Wilson Century Cycle.
The scripts of all 10 of Wilson’s landmark plays chronicling the experience of African-Americans in each decade of the 20th century are collected together in a gorgeous boxed set, complete with insightful introductions to each work by such commentators as Laurence Fishburne, Tony Kushner, Toni Morrison, and Frank Rich. It’s pricey but priceless. $129.36 at

On Broadway 2009 Wall Calendar.
Palm Pilots and BlackBerries can’t replace the charm of an old-fashioned wall calendar, especially if it’s one that features reproductions of the original posters for classic Broadway shows like The Glass Menagerie and Show Boat. Published by the Library of Congress, this calendar also contains fun facts about each month’s featured show. $13.99 at

How Does the Show Go On: An Introduction to the Theater.
What’s Christmas without a pop-up book or an advent calendar? This combo, written by Disney honcho Thomas Schumacher and Jeff Kurtti, is a doozie, even if it only cites Disney musicals. It was created to introduce kids to the theater but is filled with enough great stuff (like swatches for costumes from The Lion King and the stage manager’s cue notes for the now-departed Tarzan) to appeal to the inner child in every theater geek. $17.21 at

Historic Photos of Broadway: New York Theater: 1850-1970
Beginning with a portrait of Junius Brutus Booth and his young son Edwin and ending with a shot of the naked cast from the original production of Hair, this book is filled with rarely seen photos, all drawn from the Billy Rose collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The one of a young and very sexy Arthur Miller suggests that Marilyn Monroe was turned on by more than just his mind and is, all by itself, worth the price of the volume. $31.96 at

The Wicked Music Box.
Over 3 million people have seen this mega-musical twist on "The Wizard of Oz" so chances are you know someone who loves it. Or love it yourself. If so, then this official keepsake, which plays the show’s “Defying Gravity” anthem and comes with a seasonally-appropriate snow globe, is for you. $75 at

Stephen Sondheim The Story So Far. Anyone who loves Sondheim already has the songs on this box set in their collection but there are just enough extra goodies to add some holiday cheer, including a 76-page booklet filled with nifty photos drawn from Sondheim’s own personal photo albums and a few rehearsal songs sung by the master accompanying himself on piano. $35.99 at

Essential Shakespeare Handbook. The folks at DK Publishing, who made their name with lavishly-illustrated travel guides, have brought their distinctive touch to this visually-rich guide to the Bard’s plays. There’s a scene-by-scene summary of each one, a who’s who of the characters, famous quotes, historical and literary analysis and marvelous images ranging from illustrations for 19th century productions to photos for 21st century ones. $24.50 at

The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. Truth be told, I don’t have this one. But a previous book in the series, "The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter," has been on my bookshelf for years and is one of my great joys. The new book, which just came out, has collected the lyrics of more than 850 songs of arguably the most influential Broadway lyricist ever (and the mentor to Stephen Sondheim). It’s an enchanting gift for anyone who’s obsessive about musicals. $40.95 at


Esther said...

Wow, these are wonderful ideas. Lots of them are definitely new to me, like the theater ticket album and the Chekhov collection. And I've been thinking it would be an interesting project to read August Wilson's century cycle in succession.

Ok, you've inspired me - I'll work on a list of gifts for the 8 days of Chanukah. 'Tis the season, after all. ;-)

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Love the gift ideas. And I can vouch for the "How Does The Show Go On" book. It's a gem! I learned plenty myself!

jan@broadwayandme said...

Thanks for the kind words. Now, I can hardly wait to see what Esther turns up for her Chanukah list!

Anonymous said...
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jan@broadwayandme said...

Welcome, Susan. I hope you will continue reading and commenting. In the meantime, happy holidays, jan


Good to see various types of gifts on your blog. I have also gone through rakhi gifting site, it has unique gifts for brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, may all your wishes come true!