The “VIP Access” column serves up advice on how to make your theater-going experiences cheaper, easier and more fulfilling with inside scoop from the experts. With holiday gift giving season upon us, we’ve got a special edition sure to stuff your stocking…
What do you get for the person who has Everything…and I don’t just mean “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” as recorded by Patti and Bernadette and Tyne and Angela and Ethel? It can be a real chore to find the perfect holiday treat for a true Broadway fan because, so often, they’re already first in line for the newest CD, poster and script. Let me help you with a list of five favorite gifts that will make any drama diva stand up and applaud:
Steve in a Box: With the release of a second volume of lyrics Look, I Made a Hat, Stephen Sondheim’s every insightful line and internal rhyme is now available in print. The new volume runs from the awe-inspiring beauty of Sunday in the Park with George to the fascinating multiple incarnations of Road Show (or Bounce or Gold or Wise Guys). There are also delightfully wry side trips along the way that give hints about the man behind the legend (he cries watching Animal Planet and unexpectedly, though to my mind quite justifiably, cites Assassins as the most perfect show he’s written). But why settle for choosing just one volume, now you can get both books in a deliciously titled box set, Hat Box: The Collected Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim (on Amazon for $56.70). Want to really impress your budding wordsmith? Toss in the The Sondheim Collection ($59.99), a 2003 DVD collection featuring some of the master’s best shows and concert celebrations on video.
- Pick a Show, Any Show: Just like it’s dangerous to buy clothes for a teenager and risk the wrath of a Christmas morning eye roll, choosing theater tickets for a Broadway fan is delicate territory. So what do you do? In either case, go for a gift card. Broadway.com offers gifts cards in amounts ranging from $25 to $1500 (for two seats to The Book of Mormon, perhaps?) that can be used to buy tickets to any show currently playing on Broadway or Off-Broadway in New York City. It’s simple, useful and sure to fit.
Get in the Game: Leave it to the ever-resourceful producer Ken Davenport (Godspell) to find a new way to reach out to Broadway fans; he’s the creative force behind Be a Broadway Star! ($39.99), an original board game that allows players to go from acting class to the Broadway Hall of Fame…without having to wait in line for an open call at Equity. Combining trivia questions with theatrical challenges (singing lyrics, showing off jazz hands), the game looks to be a hoot and the perfect party starter for the show biz wannabes in your house.
- Make a Night of It: A night out at the theater is just that: a night out. So why not help your theater lover complete the evening by buying them dinner at a classic Broadway haunt? Gift certificates are available at many Hell’s Kitchen restaurants. Relive a little theatrical history and sit beneath the legendary caricatures at Sardi’s or pretend your making deals with your agent under the infamous Broadway flop wall at Joe Allen (still the place to go for insiders). For something less formal (and the chance to catch a new breed of stars grabbing a cocktail and a ridiculously huge burger), try 5 Napkin Burger just off the strip on Ninth Avenue.
- We Belong: Give a gift that keeps on giving by buying your Broadway fan a membership to the Theatre Development Fund. Members get many exclusive deals including heavily discounted preview tickets to the next big shows in New York; instead of just a single show, they get an entire year of great theater. Happy 2012, indeed! (One note: be sure your recipient qualifies to be a member before you make the purchase. For more on TDF benefits and their work, check out this post.)