As the general manager of the Broadway New York shops in the Times Square area, I hereby offer 12 suggestions for fun, cost conscious, theater-related gifts. I chose to list 12 because of the Twelve Days of Christmas; I know that Chanukah has only eight days and Kwanzaa seven, so please feel free to make four or five of the items below Chanukah and/or Kwanzaa optional.
1. Collectors' edition Spam Golden Honey Grail from Broadway's Spamalot. Yes, it's really Spam. Yes, it has the Spamalot logo on the can. No, it doesn't taste any better than regular old Spam. Perfect hostess gift or, alternatively, a cool way to inflict recollections of your youth on your children. A bargain at $12.95
2. Playbill Classic Collection 2006 13-month calendar. Features 13 color Playbill covers from the golden age of Broadway. Definitely better than puppies, kittens, or your local gas station's insignia.
3. City Walks: New York. Fifty heavy stock cards, each suggesting a different walking tour per card. With a map on one side and descriptions of what you'll see on the other, these are insightful and easy to use. I've lived in New York for 24 years and still found them really interesting. Great for people who are coming to town to see some shows or for any native who finds a little time on his hands and doesn't want to spend lots of bucks.
5. The Phantom of the Opera leather mask. Your loved ones can bring the magic of Broadway's Phantom right into their own homes! Now I know it seems a little eerie and you may be thinking, "Who would really want to wear this around the house?" But, I'm here to tell you, it's a very popular item -- particularly with young men. Who knew? If $49.95 seems too steep, the masks are also available in papier maché for $39.95 and in plastic for $16.95.
6. The TheaterMania Guide to Musical Theater Recordings. Oh, all right -- you caught me kissing up to the folks at this website. But, in fact, this is a terrific book with reviews of more than 1,000 cast albums and soundtracks, and it's been selling very well at our shops. Theater lovers will find it a valuable resource; movie and music buffs will enjoy it also. It's well worth the $19.95 to have so much well-researched and interesting information at your fingertips.
7. How to Kazoo, by Barbara Stewart. A complete method book including beginning and advanced techniques, plus an actual kazoo. Who doesn't like making lots of noise around the holidays? The kids will really like this -- and, after all, the holidays are for them too. A mere $7.95 and a dream could lead to a career in music!
8. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS 2005-2006 Broadway logo mouse pad. BC/EFA is the only organization that could get so many different producers to allow them to put all the show logos from this season on one item. Colorful, useful, and unique. Perfect for everyone who points and clicks!
9. William Shakespeare, Famous Be'an collectible. Ten-inch Beanbag replica of the Bard. He's dressed in satin pantaloons and a cape, and he carries a feather quill and a copy of Hamlet. I know you think I've lost my mind in recommending this, but it really is fun. Maybe Olde Will could fall in love with your daughter's Barbie and have beautiful, terribly smart children! Anyway, this would be a good gift for a teacher or a dad who likes to read the classics. Get thee to your wallet and pull out $18.95 for it.
10. Jersey Boys, Original Broadway Cast Recording. Just recently released, and adored by many. Already a big seller. Speaking as someone who listens to show tunes eight hours a day, I'll vouch that it's not annoying. There are lots of songs you'll recognize and a couple that you can't help but sing along to. Trust me: All the over-40 folks on your list will love this one.
11. Diva Appliqué dog leash and/or collar from BC/EFA. Pink Nylon leash with yellow appliqué that reads "Diva" and has stars around it. It comes in different sizes, and it will make any pup feel like the prima donna she or he is. Face it: Some people care more for their dogs than for their friends.
12. Wicked: The Grimmerie. If you have someone on your list who thinks that Kristin Chenoweth as Clara and Idina Menzel as the Sugar Plum Fairy would be ideal in a production of The Nutcracker, do I have a gift suggestion for you! This hardcover tome is hugely popular, especially with tween girls. It's a marketing masterpiece! It's so complete that even the most ardent fan of the show may learn a thing or two from it. Includes the full script of the musical and lots of behind the scenes information. This will be a truly "Popular" gift! Fork over $40 and make some little girl very happy.
That is it, my friends -- the best I could come up with. Take a deep breath and start shopping today. Keep in mind that in just over a month we can all drink some champagne, scream "Happy New Year," and go back to our normal routines. Happy holidays! [Ed. Note: For locations and other information on the Broadway New York shops, click here.]