Thursday, March 31, 2011

POLL RESULTS: Merch Madness!

Show Matches and Marquee Cards...
just some of the Broadway merch I collect!

The Ides of March are behind us, and the second half of the Broadway season is in full swing, even though as I write this, it is winter-cold once again!  Anyway, last month, all of the polls were about merch - the fun stuff you just have to buy when you see a new, exciting show or return to an old favorite.  Just this past week or so, I dropped $70 for How to Succeed and Priscilla - bilia.  Had Catch Me If You Can had posters or programs, I'd have spent more.  We need BMA... Broadway Merch Anonymous.  I was not the only one dropping major coin at the Priscilla booth (cute sales boys always add to my total, and the Palace is overrun with Queens these days)!

March Poll #1: Which theatre-related memorabilia do you have collections of?
(You could select as many "collections" as applicable.  Had I voted, I'd have selected all of those below marked with "*".  See?  I need an intervention!)

0% - TIE - Jewelry/Watches and Toys/Cards/Plush
OK, I don't have COLLECTIONS of these, but I do have an Opening Night wrist watch from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and I have a Ragtime teddy bear (charity item), Show Boat playing cards, and a Zazu plush from Disney's The Lion King (a gift from a friend who says I behave just like that blue bird)!

* 4% - Window Cards
My friend Mike will tell you that I have a ridiculous number of these things, and that I have a whole routine for packaging and carrying these things all around Manhattan.  Apparently, though the percentage is low, I'm not the only one of you... Carolyn from Trenton, NJ wrote, "Jeff, I have about 50 window cards, all autographed by the cast of the show, and all of them for charity!  A nice write-off and many fond memories..."

9% - Key Chains and Pins
My gal Sal collects so many of these things that she decorates a small Christmas tree with the key chains she has!  And she must have over a hundred lapel pins, all gathered in a collector's album.

* 14% - TIE - Magnets and Coffee Mugs/Water Bottles
Mike is the magnet man!  He has dozens, including an obscene one from Spring Awakening  that he proudly displays on his refrigerator!  I have the coffee mugs, including 3 different Sunset Boulevard cups.  My favorite is the tall Tarzan mug.  (Disney has the best merch...)  I have, however, stopped collecting them - they take up a lot of room in my tiny kitchen - in favor of those plastic sippy cups with show logos that they sell.  To date, I have never paid for one... I scavenge from the seats after people leave...

* 19% - Souvenir Programs
Again, I have too many, and the best are put out by Disney (though the Priscilla one is enormous and fun).  At least these I do actually pull out and look at.  Lots of great memories.  Writes Sherry from Petok, Maine, "I am always disappointed when I go to a show that hasn't been open long enough to have a souvenir program!  But then I have an excuse to drag my husband back to the same show again!"  I hear you, Sherry.  I've gone back to shows for far less!

* 23% - Clothing/Hats/Hoodies
I'm shocked that this number is so low considering how many people stand in line to buy t-shirts at merch booths!  I have lots of show shirts, but haven't bought a new one since Tarzan.  Not sure why... among my other clothing items: a Phantom ball cap, a Titanic scarf, and Xanadu winter hat.

* 33% - Books/Scripts
OK, so I studied theatre in college, and never really stopped buying scripts.  Most of the books I have now are gifts (thanks to Mike and Sal mostly.  They know me so well!).  And I have some collections - the Theatre World series from 1983-1994, and all 6 editions of the Playbill Yearbook.

* 47% - Ticket Stubs
This one I don't understand.  This number should be much higher, after all, it is a free souvenir.  But as Charlene from Brooklyn, NY wrote, "Doesn't everyone print out their own tickets at home now?"  No, Charlene, not everyone does!  I'll tell you why I don't (besides loving my little slices of cardboard):  I think it is OUTRAGEOUS that the CHARGE you to print your own ticket on your own paper with your own ink!  They charge you the handling fee anyway, whether you print the ticket or not!  So if I have to pay to have something handled, let them do it!

* 61% - Cast Recordings
The ultimate memorabilia!  How do you store yours?  Mine are alphabetical through 1999-2000, and alphabetical per season after that, in one several of those leather binders with a plastic slip for each disc.  I switched to this method when an entire 4 shelf book case wasn't enough to store them in the jewel cases.  I have a series of boxes that have the CD booklets similarly ordered.  And don't bother to write, iTunes people... I recycle my jewel cases for my picture CDs and I bring the rest to work.

* 85% - Playbills
OK, these are more FREE souvenirs from shows.  You can always go back and look at them for fun.  Did I mention they are FREE?  I have Playbill binders for really special ones - opening night, Spider-Man with Natalie Mendoza, Spider-Man without Natalie Mendoza, and I have a space set aside for Spider-Man version 2.0.  I then have each Playbill saved in those special plastic bags and cardboard that comics collectors keep their books in, and in turn those are saved in special cases designed just for that.  Those I have arranged in order of having seen the shows.  The other 15% of you, don't play the "environmental impact" card.  You know you are the people who leave them on the aisles for the rest of us to slip on as we leave the theatre looking for the merch booth!

(NOTE: My apologies for spilling my "merch guts"... I told you, I need an intervention!)

Poll #2: What format(s) are your Original Cast Recordings in?
(A logical follow up to question #1, I thought.)

0% - TIE - 8-Track Tapes and Reel-to-Reel
Tim J. of Potomac, MD wrote, "What is a reel-to-reel?"  Enough said.

33% - Cassettes
I gave most of mine away as my CD collection grew.  I still have The Tap Dance Kid, Starlight Express(the London Cast Recording AND the Concept Recording), and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

34% - Records (Vinyl)
I still have every one of mine.  And you know, I still miss the sheer size of them.  When you bought one you knew you had something.  And I especially miss the big color pictures, the longer liner notes, and the excitement of pulling out the sleeve and finding the lyrics printed on it.  The two best vinyls I have are Evita and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  Both are bi-fold (!) and both have all of the lyrics and plot synopsis - crucial to both shows.  Evita's is a booklet!!!

53% - MP3/iTunes
I suppose that when I final break and buy an iPod, I'll join the ranks.  And yes, it is cheaper, and yes, it is environmentally responsible, but damn it, I like to have something to hold when I buy it!

93% - CDs
Is almost 300 Broadway Cast Recordings a lot?  I have a lot of them.  When Anything Goes comes out, it will be the first one in my new CD book.  (The, A and An don't count as the first word of a title when alphabetizing - unless you are The New York Times)

Poll #3:  Where do you buy the majority of your theatre-related memorabilia?
(Thanks to all of you, and there were MANY, who complained that you couldn't pick more than one.  Yes, I know, Amazon can't be beat for cast recordings, while the theatre itself is cheapest for general merch.  And poor Lon, from Brighton, UK who lamented that, "I have to buy all of my Broadway items from online stores that charge far too much to send things across the pond!")  I let you all pick ONE so you'd have to tell where your MAJORITY comes from!

18.2% - TIE - Other Online Stores (,, etc.) and Online Broadway Stores (, etc.)
I buy most of my OBCRs from Amazon myself.  And thanks to BackwoodsBarbie, from Springfield, MA, who reminded me that most show websites also have their own dedicated show "shops" online.

27.3% - Broadway Gift Shops
I also buy a lot here, too.  Mostly posters and programs for shows I've seen but didn't have them when I saw them.  And they pack the posters so nicely for just $1.00!  Plus, these are the only places that sell those marquee cards I also collect (HELP ME PLEASE...).  And what trip to the theatre district would be complete without checking out all three of them?

36.3% - At the Theatre
I couldn't agree more with Trina from New York, NY (loved you in Falsettos, by the way) who wrote, "I don't know about you, but I think it feels more authentic when you buy it right at the theatre!"  And I agree, too, with Marla from Bayonne, NJ who wrote, "I especially love the shows that have small stores set up, like Spider-Man and Wicked.  It's like real shopping, and theatre and shopping are my two favorite things!"

And there you have it theatre fans!  Until next month...  um... hope to see you back here tomorrow!

Have an idea for a poll?  Email me at or Tweet me!

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