BUT, WAIT! WHAT? Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Pop Culture & Theatre Junkies
Ok, folks. This is getting dangerous. We are now exactly one week away from Christmas, and you still haven't
started finished your shopping yet. And if you celebrate Hanukah, you're in a lot of trouble! So, I decided to help you out with a list of 10 items (in no particular order) that any pop culture fan with a modicum of taste would love to have this year. I've included classic movies, great TV shows, books, CDs, and a lot more; so if you don't find something for the entertainment lover on your list, I don't know what to tell you!
INTO THE WOODS (Original Movie Soundtrack) Deluxe Edition
Hey, BroadwayWorld reader, have you heard? Disney is releasing a film adaptation of the little known Sondheim musical INTO THE WOODS on Christmas Day. I know you're busy, so I'm sure this little bit of news has escaped you, but the movie's "Deluxe Edition" soundtrack is already available for download.
I have seen the film, and while my review is embargoed until midnight tonight, I can talk about the already-released album, and I would highly recommend purchasing this soundtrack. Other than a certain expatriate, pirate-playing, movie icon, the entire cast is able to handle Sondheim's intricate music and lyrics wonderfully. The mix of movie and Broadway stars makes for a very loyal, yet fresh interpretation of this beloved musical. Of course there had to be some key-changes and lyrics cut for the film version, but the whole of the music is just as magical and glorious as it is on stage.
Even though I have seen the movie, I will be back in the theater on Christmas day, and I will likely have listened to the soundtrack a dozen times before then. And, any musical theatre lover on your gift list should too. Purchase Here
STANLEY KUBRICK: THE MASTERPIECE COLLECTION
There are few American directors that have ever been as innovative and evocative as the late Stanley Kubrick. His unique perspective to taking on the darker aspects of the human condition led to some of the most breathtakingly disturbing moments in cinema history.
In this new box set, you get his classic films LOLITA, DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BARRY LYNDON, THE SHINING, FULL METAL JACKET, and EYES WIDE SHUT.
In addition, you get five documentaries on the man and his work; KUBRICK REMEMEBERED, STANLEY KUBRICK IN FOCUS, ONCE UPON A TIME... A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES, and O'LUCKY MALCOLM!
This is a must-have for any filmophile on your shopping list. Maybe get him or her an industrial sized popcorn maker too. Purchase Here
PSYCH: THE COMPLETE SERIES
I don't watch a lot of procedural TV shows, and I don't watch a lot of TV comedies. I far prefer to follow a story that has a substantial amount of forward motion from week-to-week. However, PSYCH broke both of those rules for me. While there was quite a bit of story and character development over the show's eight seasons, the fun was in watching stars James Roday and Broadway's Dulé Hill get themselves in and out of trouble, usually while solving a murder that had previously stumped the police.
In this box set, you get all eight seasons, including the fantastic PSYCH: THE MUSICAL, starring RENT and IF/THEN's Anthony Rapp. You will probably recognize some other guest stars as well; THE PRINCESS BRIDE's Cary Elwes appears multiple times over the run of the show as a particularly egotistical thief, former Off-Broadway Hedwig, Ally Sheedy appears regularly as a demented serial killer, and Broadway's Sutton Foster stars in the series' penultimate episode.
FINISHING THE HAT and LOOK, I MADE A HAT: COLLECTED LYRICS by Stephen Sondheim
Do you have someone on your list that knows every word to every musical ever to grace the Great White Way? Then these two books are must have presents. There is little doubt that Stephen Sondheim is "The Master," but what these two books give you is an insight into why he is The Master.
Steve (do you mind if I call him Steve?) goes through the lyrics of every single song he has ever written for a musical, including some that were cut, and explains, contextualizes, and critiques them; and he doesn't take it easy on himself. You have to read what he says about his lyrics to WEST SIDE STORY.
Additionally, Mr. Sondheim (that feels better) talks about the great (and not so great) lyricists that came before him. He makes the rule that he will only discuss the works of lyricists who have shuffled off their mortal coil, because many of them are still his friends, and he doesn't want to ruffle any feathers.
THE OFFICE: THE COMPLETE SERIES
You know that you have someone on your shopping list that still wears one of those ironic blue t-shirts that says "Dunder Mifflin" on it, don't you? His name's probably Bob, isn't it? Well, this is the perfect gift for Bob. The Complete Series of the U.S. version of THE OFFICE.
Not only can "Bob" relive all of Michael Scott's ridiculous antics, he can revel in the classic Jim and Dwight pranks, and fall in love all over again with Jim and Pam. With so many TV shows adopting the mockumentary format, you owe it to "Bob" to remind him where that trend started here stateside.
In addition to all nine seasons of THE OFFICE, there is also 15 hours of deleted scenes in this box set. I can only imagine the Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer hilariousness that didn't make it to air. And come on, this is much better than actually going to Scranton, PA. Purchase Here
Currently running at the historic Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut is the World Premiere stage production of Irving Berlin's HOLIDAY INN. Coincidently, the show stars Broadway leading lady and BWW's very own blogger and THE BACHELOR recapper Patti Murrin.
If you can't make it up to East Haddam, the next best thing is this Digitally Remastered and Fully Restored Blu-Ray. Starring song and dance LEGENDS Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, the movie features such classic songs as "Happy Holiday," "Easter Parade," "You're Easy to Dance With," and "White Christmas," amongst many others.
Another cool thing about this special release is that it not only includes the original black and white version of the film, but also has an updated color version.
Get this for the hopeless romantic in your life, and snuggle up and watch it next to a fire after all of the presents have been opened. Purchase Here
STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTOR'S COLLECTION
In addition to Kubrick, Steven Spielberg is one of the most revolutionary directors in American movie making history. While this box set doesn't contain all of Spielberg's greatest triumphs like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC, SCHINDLER'S LIST, and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, it does include three of his five Oscar Best Director winning films, and some of his smaller, underappreciated ones as well.
The box set includes the films DUEL, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS, JAWS, 1941 (Theatrical and Extended Versions), E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, ALWAYS, JURASSIC PARK, and THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK.
When watching these, I would highly suggest doing so on a 60" screen with massive surround sound. Purchase Here
THE UNTOLD STORIES OF BROADWAY, VOLUME 2 by Jennifer Ashley Tepper
If you have a devout lover of musical theatre on your list, then surely he or she knows who Jen Tepper is. Not only is she a theatre historian, but she is also the Director of Programming at Broadway's Supper Club, 54 Below. In addition to creating some of the most original, and fan-friendly, events in New York on a nightly basis, Tepper has authored two books that take you inside every theatre on Broadway.
In researching her books, she spoke to hundreds (thousands?) of actors, directors, musicians, stagehands, doormen, etc. to find the most compelling stories from each of Broadway's houses. Each chapter bursts with information, nostalgia, and good old-fashioned cheesy Broadway love. Tepper also shared some of her favorite facts with BWW throughout the process, so check those out here.
This book, nah, forget it. You might as well get both books; after all, they are must-haves for anyone who loves the rich history of musical theatre. Purchase Here
PETER PAN LIVE! Soundtrack
I know there are plenty of haters out there when it comes to this month's PETER PAN LIVE! but as I said in my review, I feel that any well-produced, artistically-sound attempt to bring musical theatre to a wider audience deserves our respect and support. What those actors and technicians did on a single soundstage on Long Island was truly impressive, no matter what you think of a certain Hollywood icon that never did rise to the occasion.
The soundtrack is a wonderful mix of the charming Allison Williams, Broadway favorites Kelly O'Hara and Christian Borle, rising stars Taylor Louderman and Alanna Saunders, and the wonderful Lost Boy, Pirate, and Native ensembles.
While I didn't think that the production was perfect, in totality, the singing was as strong as you would imagine it should be. And, if you particularly didn't care for Christopher Walken's Captain Hook, at least you can listen to his songs waiting to pick out Christian Borle's Smee. Purchase Here
Tickets... to anything
There is nothing like a live performance. Being able to watch talented individuals bare their souls for their art is an experience unlike any other. So, if you don't like any of the other items on my list, get that loved one who has everything tickets to a live performance; be it a play or musical, a concert, stand-up comedy, dance, opera, the symphony, mime, the circus, anything.
This is especially true is you have a high-energy, Disney loving little one in your life. Exposing a new generation to the wonder of live performance is a gift not only to little Billy or Susie, but to you, and our society as a whole. So, visit Ticketmaster, Telecharge, StubHub, Goldstar, or any other ticket retailer you wish, and give a gift that might just change a life.
What do you think about my gift suggestions? Did I miss something obvious that every pop culture junkie should have? Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt; and no matter what holidays you choose to celebrate, I hope that they are a happy time surrounded by love, laughter, and Sondheim music.