Broadway Musical Must-Haves For the Best Holiday Gifts
Tomorrow is Cyber Monday, the day that is supposed to be the equivalent of Back Friday, but instead of leaving home and mingling amongst the throngs to buy gifts, we sit at home in our jammies with bed head and order gifts online. I prefer this way of shopping. As a theatre writer and enthusiast, I have been compiling a list of things I will most assuredly be buying for my theatre friends this year. These are some of my favorite must-haves of the recent year that I know will light up some faces this Christmas morning.
The Robber Bridegroom
Revival Cast Recording
This cast recording, lovingly produced by Ghostlight Re cords, tops my list of the must-have musical theatre merchandise of 2016. Enthusiastically sung by a top-notch cast, and sounding every bit as wonderful as it did on the stage at the Laura Pels, this Roundabout Theatre revival was the highlight of last spring's Off-Broadway season. Steven Pasquale, Leslie Kritzer, Ahna O'Reilly, Greg Hildreth and particularly Andrew Durand are in top comedic form and their voices are fantastic. This new recording makes the original pale by comparison and makes an excellent case for frequent revivals of this oft-overlooked musical theatre gem.
Tickets to BroadwayCon
A tad pricey, but if you are a theatre enthusiast you'll find a way to get tickets to BroadwayCon in NYC this January (27th-29th). Broadway artists and celebrities will be there to share their stories and wisdom with theatre enthusiasts. There will be performances, workshops and booths selling Broadway-inspired paraphernalia. For every theatre geek, this is a weekend of pure heaven. Last year's inaugural BroadwayCon suffered some hiccups, but this year, having secured a new venue and having learned from last year's mistakes, BroadwayCon will most assuredly be the theatre event of the winter!
Joel B. New
Broadway Records has a special treat for you this holiday season. Who doesn't love the popular 80s TV whodunnit series Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury? Well, composer Joel B. New has turned that show's premise into a delightful musical called Cabot Cove. Broadway Records releases a studio recording of it on December 2nd. I've heard a promotional copy and I'm giving you a heads up: It's wonderful, a surprise of the season really. There are six tracks and one hopes, as this musical evolves, New will create additional music. Whatever it's future, I'm telling you to get this as soon as it becomes available.
The Ultimate Broadway Musical List Book
By Steven M. Friedman
A fun book that will have you turning pages to pick up tidbits of tantalizing trivia is Steven Friedman's The Ultimate Broadway Musical List Book. For those of you who like your information condensed succinctly into easy-to-read columns, this book is sure to delight. Be careful, though, you might learn something along the way.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Evita Holiday Ornament
This series of ornaments is always a must-have of the Christmas season, because each annual installment is a celebration of a great Broadway diva in an iconic role. This year's ornament is that diva divine Patti LuPone as Eva Peron in the musical Evita. This features the Argentinian First Lady on the balcony of the Casa Rosada, arms outstretched in the famous "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" pose.
Original Broadway Cast Recording
The show may have been a flop on Broadway, but in my estimation, Bright Star had the best new score of the Broadway season. The composing team of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell combines bluegrass, folk and country music into an exquisite, atmospheric musical theatre experience unparalleled in recent years. This album is also a must-have because of the bravura performance of Carmen Cusack who has emerged as Broadway's most exciting voice of the last season. Don't let Bright Star fade away! Keep it close with this exhilarating cast recording produced by Ghostlight Records.
Showstoppers! The Surprising Backstage Stories of Broadway's Most Remarkable Songs
By Gerald Nachman
Do I love my Broadway songs, or what? In Showstoppers!, Gerald Nachman writes with passion and detail about many of the great Broadway songs that have literally stopped the show with their magic. For those who just enjoy a good story and for those who actually respect Broadway as an art form that deserves to be explored intellectually, it's a page-turner!
TodayTix Gift Cards
I am very often late to the table where modern convenience is concerned. I am told that TodayTix has been around for a while, but I did begin to use this amazing service until this year. An app for your phone allows you to buy tickets (usually at a reduced price) and have them delivered to you, via concierge, to outside the theatre a half-hour before the show starts. It feeds into both my love of theatre and my abject laziness. Well, it turns out that TodayTix has gift cards! What better way to give the gift of theatre than letting a friend pick the show they want to see through this exciting and user-friendly app.
A Membership to BroadwayHD.com
The second best thing to seeing a Broadway show live is to watch one on television. With a membership to Broadway HD, you can do just that. Initially, I thought this streaming option would flop since there are a limited number of recorded shows to make available. The trend toward recording Broadway shows is growing (it seems) so perhaps this site is going to be a success. A membership to watch The Woodsman and Gypsy is alone worth it.
The Color Purple
Revival Cast Recording
Finally, my number one must-have of the 2016 season (providing you haven't yet purchased it) is the revival cast recording of The Color Purple from Broadway Records. What makes it so fabulous? Well, to begin with, Broadway Records has produced the finest cast recording to date. The sound is crisp and alive, like you are sitting in the theatre, on the stage, getting your own private performance of The Color Purple. Of course, this would mean nothing if it weren't for the tour-de-force performance of Cynthia Erivo as the central character Celie. It's a musical about hope and strength in the face of despair and every nuance of that story is lovingly captured here. For album collectors, this is the Holy Grail.