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In a previous column, I talked about my much loved and growing collection of theatre memorabilia, namely my Playbill, CD and window card collections. I have a few more theatre-related collections which I'll talk about another time.
But today, I thought I'd share 4 of my favorite collectibles, 1 not so unique, 1 kinda unique, 1 pretty unique, and 1 really unique (I think).
NOT SO UNIQUE
Most everyone I know collects magnets, and the Broadway shows have some really cool ones. But for some reason that is one item I never really collected. Well, OK, I have exactly two of them, and both of them from FLOP musicals. (See my explanation for that in the next section, number 3.) Anyway, here they are: The Civil War and Glory Days. Yes, I actually saw them both - I caught a preview of GD with about 100 other people... I got the magnet at the FLEA MARKET!! (5 for $1.00!) Want to send future grand kids to college? Write to me and maybe I'll give you one! And you know what? I actually enjoyed both shows. TCW was very moving and beautifully staged, and GD I thought was a great show about male bonding and friendship, not unlike another show that flopped, which I LOVED, The Story of My Life!
You can still find these Broadway logo matchboxes in the far corners and nooks and crannies of the Broadway gift shops - One Shubert Alley has them on the counter under the magnets and key chains. But what makes this kinda unique is that it is from a show that ran less than a week, and was pretty terrible, even if its stars were great and there is one really good song in it. It is from The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, sequel to the much more popular, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I think this is kinda unique because: 1. They are still trying to sell off the stock they have of a product not many people use, especially since the public smoking ban hit NYC a few years ago; 2. It is from a show that is really a landmark for me - it was that show that finally tainted my Broadway Rose-colored Glasses. You know the ones - where you love theatre so much that every show is great! Well, this show was the one where I finally gave myself permission to not like something live on stage. And the one that made me realize that you can like some things, but not everything about a show. How liberating! I now actually find myself enjoying the shows I know are going to flop. (Those of you who think you know about theatre because you can name every swing whoever went on as Elphaba and because you saw the Les Miz revival 5 times, I laugh in your face! Ha Ha! Get back to me when you sat through Glory Days and A Tale of Two Cities!) Just kidding... kinda... and 3. It was the first show where I knew I should collect everything I could find for a flop show and save it for my retirement fund. One shop actually GAVE me the Whorehouse/Public poster. Value: over $200.00! (Rereading this now, I sound so pompous... my tone is really more that of Sir Percy in The Scarlet Pimpernel)...
I say this is pretty unique because, while it is an obvious choice for a souvenir from Show Boat which takes place on a riverboat where there is gambling, I haven't seen playing cards sold for other shows. This relic from the early 90's revival always comes to mind when I see tightly related merch for a show, like a 60's-retro airline bag for Boeing-Boeing or leg warmers for Xanadu or a baggy of "herb" from Hair (just kidding).
I got these gems on a trip to Las Vegas with my (gulp) parents. They wanted to see Siegfried and Roy, I wanted to see what was then the only Broadway show specifically staged for a showroom, Starlight Express. It was the perfect show for Vegas at that time - huge, loud and budget-busting, while still having the family values they were desperately trying to court. I love my chips, one each for the main cars in the show. Why only Pearl, of all the girls, you are probably asking? Because, get this, Reva Rice was the headliner! Her name was actually on the poster! You go, girl!
Do you have any unique Broadway treasures? Send me a pic and your story and I'll post it!