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Pathological Procrastinators, Your Broadway-Tangential Gift Guide is Here

With just over a week until Christmas, it is time for all of us pathological procrastinators to get our butts in gear. Whether it is braving the insanity of the mall or paying for express shipping, we need to suck it up and start Christmas shopping!

BroadwayGirlNYC will be releasing a completely Broadway-themed Gift Guide later this week with gifts available through the great charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. While that list includes numerous Broadway-specific gifts, this one is made up of "Broadway-tangential" gifts. Everything on this list is related to Broadway somehow (some more closely than others), but no matter whom you are shopping for, there should be something to appeal to the Broadway and pop culture lover in your life.

Check out the list, and let me know what "Broadway-tangential" gift you are hoping Santa leaves under the tree for you this year.


THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: THE LOST EPISODES
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

There is no doubt that two-time Tony-nominee Carol Burnett is one of America's most enduring comedic geniuses. While musical theatre fans will remember her for her star turn in the original Broadway production of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS and as the villainous Miss Hannigan in the original ANNIE film adaptation, it is hard to argue that her greatest contribution to American pop culture was the 11 seasons of her Emmy-winning eponymous sketch comedy and variety show, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Having won 25 Emmys, including three for Carol (who won three others for work before and after), the show is still just as funny as it was when it went off the air in 1978.

With regular co-stars Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, Tim Conway, and Dick Van Dyke (in the final season), half the fun of tuning in was to see who would laugh so hard that they would break character.

In the recently released DVD set, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: THE LOST EPISODES, you see 16 unedited episodes from the first five years of the series that have never been included in similar sets before. In these episodes, you see the first appearances of some of Carol's most iconic characters and sketches.

You also see guest appearances by theatre favorites Bing Crosby, Bernadette Peters, Paul Lynde, Lucille Ball, Andy Griffith, and more. Also included are five hours of bonus features including backstage tours, never-before-seen outtakes, features, and interviews with Burnett, Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, and more.

This is a great gift for anyone one your list who loves to laugh, whether they watched the original run of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, or they are just discovering it now.


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WALT DISNEY
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

I live in Orlando, Florida, and to this day the artistic and conceptual vision of Walt Disney is evident everywhere I turn. Not only was he one of our country's most innovative creators, but his foresight and creative vision was (and is) even more remarkable than the characters and kingdom that he bear his name.

In the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary about the man, historians, biographers, and some of the animators and designers that worked with Walt, talk about the way that he thrived not only in terms of his art, but also in the business arena as well. Narrated by Tony-nominee Oliver Platt, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WALT DISNEY includes rare footage from the normally locked-tight Disney vaults and looks to shed light on all aspects of the legend's professional life.

This is a great companion to the 2013 film SAVING MR. BANKS in which Tom Hanks plays Mr. Disney. The documentary has been described as "both an inspiring story and a cautionary tale about the price of empire."


DOWNTON ABBEY Seasons 1-5
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

With the sixth, and final, season of the acclaimed British series airing in America next month, this is the perfect time for fans to binge on DOWNTON ABBEY's first five seasons as they prepare to say goodbye to the Dowager Countess and her family. The series is one of the most beloved shows in recent memory, and has just about everything that a viewer could want. It has sweeping romance, mystery and intrigue, political undertones and so much more. DOWNTON ABBEY is a show that every TV lover must watch.

Not only does the box set include the gloriously dramatic first five seasons, but it also includes over four hours of bonus video, including features like "Downton Abbey: A House in History," "Romance in a Time of War," "The Men of Downton," "A Day with Lady Rose," and more.

From creator and writer Julian Fellowes, currently represented on Broadway as the book writer for Andrew Lloyd Webber's SCHOOL OF ROCK, the series has won 11 Emmys and features theatre regulars Tony winner Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Olivier nominee Michelle Dockery, Julian Ovenden, Laura Carmichael, Olivier winner Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, and more.

Give this box set as a gift for Christmas, and hopefully your holiday family dinners will be less dramatic than those of the Crawley family.


FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: The Complete First Season
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

You might be thinking, "What in the world is a show about zombies doing in a gift guide for theatre fans?" Well, when the show stars two Tony nominees and another Broadway alum, it makes perfect sense.

My brother loves all things zombie, and has been on THE WALKING DEAD train since the original series premiered, but for some reason, I never found time to fit it into my TV-watching schedule. Then, when I was finally ready to start, he told me that I had to start at the very beginning, otherwise nothing would make sense. Unwilling to make such a big commitment, I was thrilled when FEAR THE WALKING DEAD was announced, so that I could join this crazy world without having to binge-watch an entire series.

Needless to say, watching this spin-off has only made me hungrier to devour the original. While the show's methodic storytelling might not work on stage, the characters and emotions that this otherwise crazy concept is able to evoke are extremely theatrical and satisfying.

The show stars Tony nominee Elizabeth Rodriguez (THE MOTHER F*CKER WITH THE HAT) and Rubén Blades, who starred on Broadway in Paul Simon's musical CAPEMAN and is married to musical theatre favorite Luba Mason. Tony nominee Colman Domingo (PASSING STRANGE, THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS) played a recurring character in Season 1, but has been bumped up to a series regular for Season 2.

Whether or not you are particularly fond of zombies, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD is a wonderful example of first class storytelling and character analysis.


BLACK BROADWAY: AFRICAN AMERICANS ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

Stewart F. Lane has produced over 50 Broadway shows, earning six Tonys in the process. In his new book, BLACK BROADWAY: AFRICAN AMERICANS ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY, he intricately chronicles the rise of African American theatre in the United States beginning in the 1800s up until today.

What is fascinating about this book is that on nearly every page, Lane includes either rare photographs or historical context in order to provide the reader a fuller understanding of what was going on both off and on stage at the time. With a forward by Tony winner Kenny Leon, the book dives deep into the progression of African Americans on stage from Minstrel Shows to MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.

This is a story that has unfortunately not ben told nearly enough, but in BLACK BROADWAY, Lane brings into focus the careers of August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Pearl Bailey, Sidney Poitier, Audra McDonald, Ben Vereen, James Earl Jones, Billy Porter, and so many more remarkable artists.

"You've got to get this book. This book is an accomplishment, and to be in these pages is truly a high honor." - Ben Vereen


Annaleigh Ashford LOST IN THE STARS: LIVE AT 54 BELOW CD
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

I am not really a religious person, but halfway through my first listen to this CD, I decided that I would be perfectly willing to bow down and worship at the feet of this insanely talented Tony winner. Over the last few years, Annaleigh Ashford has transformed from Broadway's "dumb blonde" character actress into one of the most nuanced and talented performers on stage and screen.

Whether it was as the surprisingly strong Lauren in KINKY BOOTS, as the no-nonsense lesbian prostitute Betty Dimello on MASTERS OF SEX, or as the goof-ball ballerina Essie (for which she won that Tony) in last year's revival of YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, Annaleigh has shown that she has so many more layers than anyone originally gave her credit for, and she peels back every one of those layers in this live concert recording.

Primarily recorded around the holidays at New York's 54 Below, she sings songs from and about the building's heyday, pop and rock hits, and showtunes, all while telling stories with her kooky, adorable, one-of-a-kind personality. Give this CD to a theatre fan that needs some faith in his/her life, and you will have a new convert to the religion sweeping Broadway, "Annaleighism."


HAMILTON Original Broadway Cast Recording
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

At this point, I would be gobsmacked if a theatre fan in your life didn't already have the HAMILTON cast recording, and has been playing it on repeat for months. However, just in case, this is the gift that you must give to any theatre, or music, obsessed person that you love that doesn't already have it.

From breaking Billboard records and barriers, this cast recording has everything you could possibly want; rapid-fire hip-hop, gorgeous musical theatre, and one of the most multi-talented Broadway casts in recent memory.

I won't bore you with my critique, as plenty of other more musically adept folks have already made their praise well known, but sufficient to say, this is a must have. Unless of course you are waiting until sometime early next year when it is released on vinyl.

"2015's best rap album isn't by Drake, Kendrick Lamar or Dr. Dre -- it's the cast recording of Hamilton, a vital companion to the most creative, most talked-about musical to hit Broadway this millennium."- Alex Gale's Billboard review


RAZZLE DAZZLE by Michael Riedel
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

Whether you love to hate him, or just straight up hate him, if theatre is an important part of your life, chances are pretty good that you have read Michael Riedel's column in the NY Post and either laughed at his silly feuds or wanted to swear off print media over his gossip-mongering. Either way, the work he has done on his first book and the story that he tells are both truly remarkable.

In the early 1970s, when New York and Broadway were both on the verge of falling out of relevancy for much of America, Bernard Jacobs and Jerry Schoenfeld took control of the floundering Shubert Organization and returned the company to its former glory and then some. Riedel chronicles the backroom deals and Machiavellian machinations that led to the ginormous hits that reinvigorated an entire industry.

Trust me, the stories Riedel tells will rival anything you will see on stage.

"Now Michael Riedel tells the stories of the Shubert Organization and the shows that re-built a city in grand style, revealing the backstage drama that often rivaled what transpired onstage, exposing bitter rivalries, unlikely alliances, and-of course-scintillating gossip. This is a great story, told with wit and passion."


HANNIBAL Seasons 1-3 on DVD
To Purchase: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3

If you did not witness the three-season run of the visually and emotionally sumptuous HANNIBAL on NBC, you missed out on one of the most unique and artistically invigorating experiences on television. While you wouldn't think that the story of a cannibalistic psychiatrist would lend itself to such opulent storytelling, creator Bryan Fuller found a way to turn this twisted tale into one of the most stunning and audacious experiments in the history of the medium.

The images, the colors, the visual poetry were all unlike anything you've ever seen on TV before, and might ever again. In addition, the cast is filled with first-rate talent, including some theatrical heavy hitters. As the titular serial killer, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen gives one of the most bone-chilling performances this side of Hitchcock. His nemesis FBI Profiler Will Graham is played by Broadway leading man Hugh Dancy, who gives an equally effective performance as man who is forced to question his own sanity and conscience while fighting for justice and revenge.

Also in the cast are four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza, Tony winner Laurence Fishburne, Dancy's VENUS IN FUR Tony-winning co-star Nina Arianda, Tony nominee Cynthia Nixon, Theatre World Award winner Hettienne Park, along with Anna Chlumsky, Gillian Anderson, and more.

If you can stand the sight a lot of blood, this show will titillate and mesmerize you on so many different levels.


ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Funko Pop! Figures
To Purchase: CLICK HERE

Over the last six months, I have begun to cultivate an extremely exclusive collection of Funko Pop! figures. I am extremely particular about whom I allow to join the group, but currently it involves The Twelfth Doctor from DOCTOR WHO (Peter Capaldi), Anna Kendrick's Beca from PITCH PERFECT, a straight-jacketed Will Graham from HANNIBAL, Benedict Cumberbatch's SHERLOCK Holmes from SHERLOCK, and Tatiana Maslany as Alison Hendrix, Helena, and Rachel Duncan with a pencil in her eye from ORPHAN BLACK.

While the audience participation of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, either on stage or screen, has always unnerved me a bit, for the theatre fan on your list that enjoys dressing in costume and singing along to a sweet transvestite, these are perfect gifts.

In the Pop! line, they have Brad, Janet, Columbia, Magenta, Riff Raff, and, of course, Dr. Frank-N-Furter. They also have throwback Re-Action Figures for these characters as well.


What are you hoping Broadway Santa will leave under your tree? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. If you want to follow along with my "366 in 366" articles, you can check out #BWW366in366 on Twitter.



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From This Author Matt Tamanini