Holiday gift suggestions for Broadway fans

With the boom in online shopping and resultant delays in delivery during the pandemic, it’s a good idea to get a jump on your holiday gift-buying to make sure your presents arrive on time. If you’re looking for the perfect purchases to keep the Broadway lovers in your life happy, entertained, and connected to the theater until the curtain rises again, check out these themed suggestions.

Be a Broadway Star!  – The brainchild of Tony Award-Winning Broadway producer Ken Davenport (Once On This IslandGodspell), Be A Broadway Star LLC has been providing hours of at-home entertainment since its inception in 2011, when it launched the Be A Broadway Star! board game. A favorite for fans of all ages, the game puts 2-6 players in the spotlight as Broadway-bound artists who roll the dice and pick cards that will have them singing, dancing, or acting out lines from their favorite shows. As they move through the board, they work their way up to the top, beginning in acting school, posing for headshots, building a résumé, earning an Equity card, getting an agent and publicist, going to auditions, being cast in shows, and maybe even winning a Tony Award. The star who accumulates the most fans along the way to the Broadway Hall of Fame wins the game. A new bonus eighteen-card holiday-edition expansion pack, with challenges inspired by such recent hits as Hamilton, Beetlejuice, and Jagged Little Pill, holiday favorites like White Christmas and How The Grinch Stole Christmas, perennial favorites Rent, The Sound of Music, Annie, and more, is now available as a free digital download. Be a Broadway Star! is available from Amazon.com for $39.99, including free shipping.

Hamilton Glass Combo – Although we can’t see the Tony-winning musical in-person at the Richard Rodgers Theatre until Broadway is deemed safe to reopen later next year (we hope), we can watch the ‘Hamilfilm’ on Disney+ (I’m presently at more than 50 streams and counting of the blockbuster hit) and we can also trigger memories of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ingenious songs and unforgettable lines about the American Revolution while toasting the holidays at home with the Playbill Store’s Hamilton drinking glass set. It’s a great gift for adults (ages 21+) who love the show, the theater, American history, and a holiday libation. So be sure not to throw away their shot to “raise a glass to freedom” with the clever pint glass (with a text design and colors that evoke the American flag) and shot glass combo. You can order the pair for the discounted price of $35.00, or get them separately at $25.00 and $15.00 respectively, on the Playbill Store website. And you might want to order more than one set, since you probably won’t want to give away your shot [glass] once it arrives!

Playbill Combo Mask Pack – Everyone needs a supply of fresh clean face masks to get through the pandemic, so why not revisit some of your favorite Broadway musicals and break into their hit songs every time you put one on? The two-piece combo mask pack includes one classic Broadway face mask with a black background, featuring a repeating pattern of famous Broadway Playbill covers from renowned hits like Evita, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon, and one scarlet face mask with images of Playbill covers from such ground-breaking musicals as Spring Awakening, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton, The Rocky Horror Show, Rent, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and La Cage aux Folles. The knit masks, manufactured in the USA using 2-ply moisture-wicking fabric, are designed to fit a variety of face shapes and sizes (dimensions are 6″ across and 5″ top to bottom; the ear loops add approximately 3.5″ to each side) and are washable (cold water suggested) and reusable. Please note that these masks are not FDA approved products, and due to their hygienic nature, they are Final Sale items and not eligible for returns, refunds, or exchanges. You can purchase both masks as a set for $24.00 (and save 20%), or you can order them individually at $14.99 each online at the Playbill Store.

Art by Tug Rice.

Christmas at BirdlandReleased in 2019, as the premiere studio album from Nashville’s Club44 Records (a new independent label spotlighting Broadway, cabaret, jazz, and the Great American Songbook), the recording, which debuted at #2 on the iTunes Jazz Chart and reached #7 on Billboard’s Top Ten, features vocalists Billy Stritch, Jim Caruso, and Klea Blackhurst, with Steve Doyle on bass, Daniel Glass on drums, and special guests Dave Koz on saxophone and Donny Osmond on vocals. The selection of holiday songs ranges from old to new, with rarely-recorded songs by such legendary composers from Broadway’s Golden Age as Cy Coleman (“He’s Stuck in the Chimney Again”), beloved standards by Irving Berlin, Jule Styne, and Harry Warren, and originals by contemporary talents like Ann Hampton Callaway (“Manhattan in December”). Available on Amazon, your purchase of the CD includes the MP3 version for free download.

Billy Stritch, Klea Blackhurst, and Jim Caruso. Photo courtesy of Birdland.

A Swinging Birdland Christmas – In addition to the album, Club44 Records will also present an online pay-per-view concert (the live in-person version of which has been a seasonal mainstay at the iconic New York club for the past decade), streamed from Birdland (and following COVID-19 safety protocol) on Friday, December 18, 7 pm, through Radio Free Birdland in association with BroadwayWorld.com. According to Caruso, “the concept for our original Birdland show was to give a sense of the great ‘60s and ‘70s Christmas TV specials we grew up loving.” In keeping with that tradition, Blackhurst, Caruso, Stritch, and the band, joined by tap dancer Luke Hawkins and cabaret legend Marilyn Maye, will perform swinging arrangements from the album, along with some new surprises. To get tickets for yourself at home, and for those on your Christmas list to watch from the comfort of their own homes, go online.

These gift choices will not only appeal to devoted aficionados of the New York theater scene, but will also support the theater industry during this challenging time of the ongoing pandemic. That will definitely land you on Santa’s nice list!

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