Sunday, December 20, 2009

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Well, the weather outside is frightful - OK, here in Vermont, we had wind and a few flurries, but it is DAMNED cold (18 degrees as I write). And so it seems that most of my East Coast friends are digging out of several inches of snow. Welcome to my world! Ah, well...

Anyway, I intended to write a column of some last minute gift ideas for theatre lovers in your family, but now, I don't see that many of you will have the option to shop, but must rely on Internet shopping and shipping that may or may not get through... oh well, here goes anyway. Good luck, good shopping, and Happy Holidays!

1. Get tickets to a Broadway show - January and February are slow months for every show. You might even score Jersey Boys or Wicked. But I'd recommend a new show that you can boast to everyone about seeing BEFORE it becomes a mega-hit. I am talking, of course, about Memphis currently crowd-pleasing the masses at the Shubert Theatre. There are discounts available (see my blog from September 15, 2009) and this show is really something special. Plus, you cannot beat the performances of Chad Kimball and Montego Glover!

2. Cast Recording Recommendations:
  • next to normal - You can't go wrong with the Tony winner for Best Score. And it is pretty complete, so you can either relive the show in your head (as I often do) or you can imagine the entire story. Plus there is the heavenly Alice Ripley and the great "Superboy and the Invisible Girl."

  • West Side Story - This recording is important because it marks the first Broadway cast recording of the classic musical since the original. (The 1980 revival, a fast flop, was not recorded.) Plus, like it or not, it preserves the Spanish lyrics of a few songs, something you'll probably never hear again. And the recording quality is superb.

  • Rock of Ages - I didn't LOVE the show, I appreciated it. But I do LOVE the CD, chock full of great 80's tunes amazingly sung and orchestrated. Listen for two things: the lyric gaffe by James Carpinello, when he refers to Amy Spanger's character as Amy, not Sherie, and the very end... keep the CD playing even after the last song is over. FUNNY!

  • For real collectors, I recommend the great CDs of 9 to 5: The Musical and The Story of My Life. Both are superbly produced, sung and packaged, and both will probably leave you scratching your head as to why they flopped, especially the latter of the two. They also contain four of the best individual songs of the past season - "Around Here" and "Get Out and Stay Out" from 9 to 5, and "The Butterfly" and "Mrs. Remington," from The Story of My Life.

3. Speaking of The Story of My Life, it is one of three book recommendations I am giving people who ask:

  • "The Butterfly" from The Story of My Life has been turned into a children's book. It is available in several formats.

  • How Does the Show Go On? - See my A+ review from December 14,2009.

  • And finally, for true lovers of Broadway, you can't go wrong with The Playbill Broadway Yearbook. Now up to Volume 5 (the 2008-2009 Season), it covers every single show that played on Broadway from June 2009 - May 2009. Here is a link to information on this: And it is on sale. Better yet, it is easy to catch up on the whole collection: Volume I is $8.00, II is $9.00, III is $10.00, and last year's is $16.95!

Finally, I recommend two sites for theatre lover shopping:

  • The Playbill Store - - Search the clearance section and look through everything for sale items. Also, their Playbill Binders are available in a variety of prices, but all are of great quality, and are a must if you collect them.

  • Triton Gallery - - This theatre icon of a store is less convenient to get to now that it isn't across from the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, but their online catalogue is complete (DIG AROUND, TRUST ME!!!!).

Both sites have shipping and handling charges that are a bit steep, but they do deliver nicely done packages that a hand grenade couldn't break. As always, of course, shop around. But enjoy!

Comments? Leave one here or email me at



  1. Excellent recommendations! I for one am deeply surprised the Grammys did not recognize Next to Normal or Story of My Life, two of the best recordings I've heard in years, in favor of Shrek and Ain't Misbehavin. It makes sense, as Story of My Life was low on the radar, but the snub to N2N does not make sense to me.

    Also, I must point out that while South Pacific, Bye Bye Birdie and Little Night Music recently received their first (real) Broadway revivals (excluding City Center reproductions), West Side Story in fact was given a new production in 1980 with Debbie Allen as Anita, which would make the current revival the second Broadway cast. It is the first to be officially recorded, as the '80 one lasted only nine months or so (I think), but it is still the second cast.

    Triton Gallery is my obsession. Just needed to make that clear. Hours can be spent just clicking through them all.

    Continue rocking!

  2. Hey, David!

    You are absolutely right about WSS! You'll see that I corrected it above. What is funny about that, coupled with your comment about Triton Gallery (obsessed here as well), is that one of the very first show cards I ever bought from them was the West Side Story 1980 revival card!

    As far as your Grammy comments... see what I wrote about that very topic earlier this month. We are, as usual, on the same page.

    Do me a favor? Continue leaving your comments here as you wish. But also email me, so we can chat more in depth, ok?



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