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Ten Broadway Christmas Gifts You Should Buy For Yourself

‘Tis the season to buy stuff… so why not buy some of that awesome show memorabilia or a cast recording that you’ve been eyeing the last couple of months.

Here’s the list of Broadway gifts I plan to buy this holiday season. I also bet these gifts would be the perfect idea for any Broadway enthusiast!

10. The Playbill Broadway Yearbook: June 2011 to May 2012 Eighth Annual Edition

Description: The new edition includes chapters on 70 Broadway shows, which is every show that ran during the season, not just such new shows as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Once, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, and One Man, Two Guvnors, but the long-running ones from seasons past, such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, and Wicked.

Why I want it: I love the idea of a Broadway yearbook — I’ve spent so much time reading articles, writing reviews, talking about new (and old) shows, and tweeting about it. It would be great to have a yearbook to help remember and celebrate this past year’s Broadway season.

Cost: $26.39 on Amazon

9. On Broadway – 2013 Calendar

Description: A 2013 calendar featuring Broadway playbills.

Why I want it: I had the 2012 Playbill calendar and loved it! Every morning as I eat my breakfast I stare at my Playbill calendar. Granted, there are a few shows I wish weren’t in there (like Million Dollar Quartet), but overall it’s a great calendar and a completely functional gift as well.

Cost: $10.09 on Amazon

8. Once – Vocal Selections

Description: This official sheet music companion folio to the stage version allows music makers apply their own talent to the beloved score of Once. The 12 selections are based on the renditions from the Original Broadway Cast Recording, arranged for piano and voice, with basic chord fingering grids included for guitarists.

Titles:
* Falling Slowly
* The Moon
* If You Want Me
* Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy
* Say It to Me Now
* Gold
* Sleeping
* When Your Minds Made Up
* The Hill
* Gold (a cappella)
* Falling Slowly (reprise)

Why I want it: It will continue to complete my collection of Broadway vocal selections, and I’m also dying to sing some of these new and updated Broadway arrangements. (I already own the movie vocal selections!)

Price: $11.55 on Amazon

7. Chaplin and The Mystery of Edwin Drood Broadway Posters

Description: The official Broadway window card posters of Chaplin and The Mystery of Edwin Drood measures 14 x 22 inches. Printed on glossy cardstock.

Why I want it: I love collecting Broadway window card posters! I have them lined on my office wall, and I always try to get the new shows’ poster. I do not have Chaplin or The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Price: $20.00 each at Playbillstore.com 

6. A few new Broadway Cast Recordings: Leap of Faith, A Christmas Story, Les Miserables and Anthony Rapp’s Without You

Description & Why I want it: I’ve been waiting for Leap of Faith cast recording since I saw it back in May. I can not wait to hear Raul Esparza sing this fun upbeat gospel score! I also would love to listen to A Christmas Carol during the holidays this year! I’m also excited to hear the new movie soundtrack for Les Miserables and Anthony Rapp’s Without You which I saw at the NYMTF last year (and absolutely loved). These are four fantastic CD’s that I can’t wait to hear!

Price: $14.99 – Leap of Faith, $12.99 – A Christmas Story, $11.88 – Les Miserables, & $13.76 - Without You

5. Theatre Tickets: Big Fish in Chicago and Matilda on Broadway

Description: Big Fish, a new musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 Columbia Pictures film written by John August, will star Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom.

Big Fish is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, a book by John August, and is produced by Academy Award winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.

The gifted child Matilda, unloved at home but supported by her teacher, tries to rid her school of its evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, the hit London production won seven Olivier Awards.

Why I want it: Amazingly enough, I will be in Chicago when the world premiere of Big Fish opens and I can’t wait to blog about it! I seriously can’t wait!! It will be my first time in Chicago and I also get to see a world premiere musical and it has Norbert Leo Butz in it. I just now have to grab my tickets but unfortunately they aren’t on sale yet!

I’ve been super interested in Matilda since it started development awhile back. It is one of my favorite children’s books of all time and I can’t wait to see what they have done with it! I feel like it’s going to take Broadway by storm!

(Really though, any theatre tickets to any show will suffice – these are just the two musicals that I’m most excited about next year!)

Price: $ ? - Big Fish tickets not on sale, $32.00 – $147.00 - Matilda tickets

4. A few new London Cast Recordings - Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat

Description: The Singin’ in the Rain cast recording of the classic musical from London’s Palace Theatre, features Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen. With all the charm, romance, comedy and tinsel town glamour of one of the world’s best-loved films, Jonathan Church’s brand new production features a score including the classics “Good Morning”, “Make `em Laugh”, “Moses Supposes” and the legendary “Singin’ in the Rain”. Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen play the roles made famous by Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

Top Hat brings the glamour of Hollywood’s golden age and the glorious, tap-dancing magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to the West End in one of the greatest dance musicals of all time. Tim Walker of The Sunday Telegraph writes, “This is the most sublimely performed, choreographed, orchestrated and costumed musical I have seen in the last 25 years. I can’t ever see London – or me tiring of it. It is sublime”.

Why I want it: I love tap shows! I wish there were more of these types of shows on Broadway! Singin’ in the Rain is one of my favorite movie musicals ever and I also have a special place in my heart for Top Hat because I performed the titled number, as a solo, when I was in college. It’s been one of my favorite songs ever since! I hope that Broadway sees the success of both of these shows and gets at least one of them on a Broadway stage. Since I’m not going to London anytime soon, I’ll just have to listen to the cast recordings!

3. Broadway’s Carols for a Cure, Volume 14 – 2012

Description: For 14 years, members of the Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre community have raised their voices and lifted our spirits with this wonderfully eclectic holiday music series. Mixing holiday classics and brand new original material, this 2-CD set offers us the companies of Evita, Once, Peter and the Starcatcher and Newsies, among others, ushering us into a spirited holiday season. Celebrity guest stars include Ricky Martin, Cyndi Lauper and Perez Hilton.

Why I want it: First, it’s supporting a wonderful cause: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Second, I need new Christmas music every year to listen to. Third, Rebecca which didn’t even land on Broadway has a song on this album! (WTH?!) I think that’s the best part!

Price: $23.00 – Broadway Cares

2. The Broadway Cares Collection – 2012 Logo Christmas Ornament

Description: Decorate your Christmas tree Broadway style with the Broadway Cares white glass ornament, featuring the logos of more than twenty Broadway musicals from the 2011-2012 season.

Logos include: Anything Goes, Bonnie and Clyde, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Evita, Follies, Ghost The Musical, Godspell, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar, Leap of Faith, The Lion King, Lysistrata Jones, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Memphis, Newsies, Nice Work If You Can Get It, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Once, The Phantom of the Opera, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Rock of Ages, Sister Act, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Wicked.

Why I want it: I have the 2010-11 Playbill Ornament and I absolutely love it. I want an entire Christmas tree filled with playbill ornaments! This is always on top of my Broadway Christmas wish list! Everyone always comments on this ornament and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this item goes to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS which is awesome!

Price: $20.00 – Playbill.com

1. Les Misérables Movie Tickets

Description: Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Why I want it: I have to be honest, I will be at the first showing of Les Misérables on Christmas day – there’s one at 9:00am, and instead of opening presents, I’ll be sitting in an empty theatre, having popcorn for breakfast and enjoying the amazingness of this movie.

Price: $6.00 – (first matinee price) Fandango.com 

 
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Posted by on 11/29/2012 in Broadway, News

 

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Top 5 New 2012-13 Broadway Musicals I’m Excited About

Looking back at my post I wrote at the beginning of the year, I was writing about some pretty exciting new shows: OnceNewsies and Evita — all three shows are still going incredibly strong. Leap of Faith and Ghost have both closed, even though I enjoyed both (the first one much more than the latter).

With several shows closing since the summer, we have a new crop of shows coming into Broadway theatres — a few have even started previews (Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Chaplin and Bring it On have already opened. I’m going to tell you the top five musicals that I’m most looking forward to this upcoming season, and a few ideas on who’s going to land at the Tony Awards in June.

Here are my top five Broadway shows that I’m most looking forward to this upcoming season:

5. Kinky Boots

The preview of the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, with book by four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, score by Grammy Award-winning music icon Cyndi Lauper and directed by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, is just finishing it’s out-of-town preview in Chicago. Kinky Boots has a fantastic writing team and also has really great cast. It also received pretty good reviews in Chicago and could possibly be a huge hit.

I’m not totally sold, but I’ll give it a chance.

Previews: March 5th, 2013 & Opens: April 4th, 2013

Tony Predictions: I think it will fare well in the nominations (production team & cast), but I don’t know if it will end up with any actual awards.

4. Hands on a Hard Body 

For ten hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand new truck in order to win it. It doesn’t sound like a “normal” big-flashy musical comedy and that’s why I think it will do so well on Broadway this season. It will become last season’s Once. (Though, I doubt it will win Best Musical.) The previews start February 23, 2013.

Tony Predictions: Either it will be like Once and everyone will fall in love with it, or it won’t strike a chord with audiences and end up like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (gone and mostly forgotten).

3. The Mystery of Edwin Drood 

Who killed Edwin Drood? Practically everyone is a suspect in this rousing Tony Award-winning musical mystery. And since author Charles Dickens left the story unfinished, it’s up to the audience to decide. This cast is an incredible group of Broadway actors (Stephanie Block, Will Chase, Chita Rivera, Jessie Mueller and more)! Even though this musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1986, it hasn’t had a huge popular regional/community life but I’m hoping this revival sticks around and it even extends into the Spring.

Tony Predictions: I have a feeling that a few of the cast will be receiving Tony Award nominations, and of course it will get an obligatory Tony nomination for Best Revival (since there are only three in the mix right now.) It’s gonna have to beat out Cinderella, but if it closes in February (as planned), then I don’t think it will win  very many Tonys. We’ll see.

2. Cinderella 

I have a feeling that Cinderella will be winning Best Revival at the Tony Awards this coming June, though it could have a run for it’s money with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark and Harriet Harris on board, we all know the music will shine! Add Douglas Carter Beane, who has re-worked the book for this production, and I think they’ll have a huge hit on their hands! It starts previews on January 21st, 2012.

Tony Predictions: Best Revival, possible win for Laura Osnes (it’s her time) and definitely a nomination for Victoria Clark.

1. Matilda 

The gifted child Matilda, unloved at home but supported by her teacher, tries to rid her school of its evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, the hit London production won seven Olivier Awards. This musical is not only based on my favorite children’s book of all time, but has been HUGELY successful in the West End! I think it’s going to be a the new AnnieOliver and Billy Elliot — let’s just make sure we aren’t awarding a Tony Award to Matilda this June regardless on how good she is.

Tony Predictions: I think it will be a sweep for Matilda. A huge sweep — at least, in the design areas.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Annie - I’ll be honest; technically this show would be on my “shows to skip” just because I have had enough of this musical recently, but the cast, namely Katie Finneran, makes me want to see it. I guess, we all need a little red-head to cheer us up every once in a while. The jury is out on this one.
  • Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson - Can Carolee Carmello hold this show together? Besides Kathie Lee Gifford producing this new musical, I’m not sure of the built-in audience. Who is going to see this? (Unless great word-of-mouth gets out.) It could go either way, but I have a feeling it’s not going to last the month of January as many Broadway shows close at the beginning of the year. It starts previews on October 13th, 2012.
  • A Christmas Story, the musicalUsually Christmas/holiday fare does not land on my top five lists of any kind, but this show I’m interested in because the music and lyrics duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are a new up-and-coming musical theatre writers that I have been following. It’s always great to get some new composers on Broadway and I’m excited to see what they have done with this iconic movie. Previews start November 4th, 2012.

Shows to Skip:

  • Bring it On - I saw this production in San Francisco during it’s pre-Broadway tour. I wasn’t a huge fan beyond the awesome cheerleading stunts that are incorporated into the show. The rest of it: music, story, and lyrics just fell flat to me. It’s closing December 30th, 2012.
  • Chaplin - The new musical reveals the man behind the legend — Charlie Chaplin, born into hardship in the slums of London, who became one of the world’s most famous entertainers. The show got bad reviews, but it’s been making about 1/2 million each week with about 70-80% capacity. I feel like this musical might turn into the Memphis of the 2012-13 season, but I hope not. I have heard the projections are incredible.
  • Jekyll & Hyde Based solely on listening to Constantine Maroulis singing “This is the Moment” on the new cast recording, is reason enough not to go to see this untimely remounting of this musical. I still have doubts that it will open April 2013. (Almost willing to put money on it!)

What musical are you most excited to see this upcoming season?

 
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Posted by on 10/29/2012 in Broadway, News

 

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Bay Area Theatre – Weekend Picks, Dec 11-13

Here are The Broadway Critic’s picks for Bay Area Theatre this weekend:

1. The 39 Steps at Curran Theatre, shnsf.com - In my review I said, “There’s a reason that this show is the longest running play on Broadway right now. You’ll walk away from the theatre (regardless of your age) having a ridiculously good time. And sometimes, we all really just need a ridiculously good time.” The 39 Steps runs till January 3rd, but get your tickets soon. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a major hit! More info here.

2. Jubilee at 42nd Street Moon – I just can’t say enough great things about this production. After a long weekend of so-so theatre, I ended up being surprised with how wonderful the cast, choreography, costumes, music and direction were. It’s really a show that you don’t want to miss! Buy your tickets now for this weekend! Read the full review here.

3. A Christmas Story at SJ Rep - If you are looking for a Christmas show than take your whole family to this one. While, it’s not groundbreaking theatre, by any means, I left the theatre feeling the Christmas spirit and that’s just what I needed to jump start my holidays. Read the full review here.

On my Radar:

  • A Christmas Carol at ACT: I’ve heard some great things about this production. Go into the city, hang out in Union Square, do some Christmas shopping and then go to the theatre. Sounds like a great day to me! More info here.
  • Another Night Before Christmas at City Lights Theatre Company: It runs to December 20th. Plus, it’s the West Coast premiere! I’ll be checking this one out next Friday. More info, here.
  • The SeafarerIt runs through December 20th and has gotten great reviews. I’m seeing it this Saturday night. Buy tickets, here.
 
 

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Theatre Review: “A Christmas Story” @ SJ Rep, 12/5

Photo credit: Kevin Berne

If you are looking for some holiday cheer, then look no further than San Jose Rep’s production of A Christmas Story. After watching last Saturday’s matinee, I literally ran off, bought a Christmas tree and decorated it. That’s how much it put me into the Christmas spirit. San Jose Rep’s artistic director, Rick Lombardo, said “When the Rep first produced A Christmas Story, little did we know it would become the highest selling play in our history. The audience asked us to bring it back during the holidays at some point, and it felt to me that this year, with the struggle we’re all confronting, was a great time to revisit what has become one of the timeless American holiday tales.” I couldn’t be happier that Lombardo decided to bring this classic holiday story to the stage again. It’s perfect for your entire family!

One of the most exciting parts about this production is the set. Robert Mark Morgan’s creative rotating house moved the play along at just the right speed. The main house rotated 360 degrees, as well as the sidewalk in front of the house on two separate moving devices. You never knew what would pop out from behind the house as the sidewalk was rotated around. I especially loved how they used the sidewalk as the kids walked to school. Randy (Emilio Fuentes) was so cute as he laid stuck in the snow in his ginormous snowsuit. (That’s one of my favorite moments in the show.)

The show’s narrator, Adult Ralph (Dan Hiatt), delivered his lines as if we were sitting next to the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate and enjoying the warmth of friends and family during a cold wintry day. It reminded me of when my Grandpa would start telling stories about his childhood during Christmas family dinners. It was sometimes endearing, funny, a little long (at points) and ultimately heartfelt. I miss those stories and A Christmas Story reminded me of those days.

This is truly a perfect choice for the family. Your kids will love this production and it’s a great way to introduce them to the theatre, knowing full well that they will love it and not get bored. While, it’s not groundbreaking theatre, by any means, I left the theatre feeling the Christmas spirit and that’s just what I needed to jump start my holidays.

****

A Christmas Story
by Philip Grecian
Directed by Chris Smith
San Jose Repertory Theatre
Closes December 20, 2009

 
 

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Bay Area Theatre – Weekend Picks, Nov. 20-22nd

Here are The Broadway Critic’s picks for Bay Area Theatre this weekend:

1. The Seafarer at San Jose Stage CompanySan Jose Stage Company has a reputation on putting up edgy new works that grab your attention in a way that no other theatre company does in the South Bay. With their intimate setting, fantastic direction (usually by Rick Singleton) and stellar actors (often returning), they have come up with the perfect recipe that you don’t want to miss. This time, it’s Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer. It opens on November 21st and runs through December 20th. Unfortunately I will miss the opening night gala (because I’ll be in London) but we are checking this show out the week I get back.

Here’s a little more about the play, “These men who make their way home for the holidays aren’t exactly looking forward to sharing a cup of holiday cheer. But a stranger in their midst, in town to collect a major poker debt, forces them to take a look at their lives — and where they’ll end if they’re not more careful. The Tony Award winner is a darkly funny examination of Ireland’s culture of drinking and the arguable states of grace achieved by those who embrace it.”

The Seafarer features Randall King*, Julian López-Morillas*, Kevin Blackton*, Colin Thomson*, and Donald G. Emmerich, many of whom are familiar from recent performances at The Stage. (*Actor’s Equity Association)

Buy tickets, here.

2. Another Night Before Christmas at City Lights Theatre Company: Just to preference: my wife, Shenelle Williams, is playing piano on this show, so I might be a little biased! Another Night Before Christmas is a “a delight for the whole family, this witty and tuneful holiday romp is sure to win laughs from anyone who has ever lost – or found – the holiday spirit.” With only a two-person cast (Lisa-Marie Newton and Michael Johnson), this show will definitely add Chistmas cheer to your holiday season. (Shenelle keeps coming home from rehearsal and wanting to put up decorations!) It runs from November 19th to December 20th. Plus, it’s the West Coast premiere!

More info, here.

3. A Christmas Story at San Jose Rep: This Christmas classic is back! “Christmas is a time of great expectations and for nine-year-old Ralphie Parker that great expectation is a genuine Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. Unfortunately, his mother, teacher and even the Goldblatt’s Department Store Santa Claus have the same reaction to his Christmas wish, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”‘ I love this movie and it’s perfect for the whole family! It opens November 21st and runs through December 20th.

Get more info, here.

Other shows of interest:

  • The Fantasticks at Sunnyvale Community Theatre: Read The Broadway Critic’s review here.
  • A Taffeta Wedding at Tabard Theatre Company: A Taffeta Wedding closes this weekend, so make sure you get over to the Tabard. We featured this show last week – get info here.
  • West Side Story at WVLO: This production of West Side Story runs till December 5th. It features Issac Benelli as Tony, Anne-Claire Baconnais as Maria, and Brian Palac as Bernado. Get info here.

I’m checking out all of these shows I mentioned after the Thanksgiving holiday because I’ll be in London watching shows in the West End! (Of course, you’ll get reviews of those as well!) Enjoy the weekend; there is some great theatre happening!

Until next week… (really two weeks)

 
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Posted by on 11/20/2009 in Weekend Picks

 

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Bay Area Theatre – Weekend Picks, Nov. 13-15th

Here are The Broadway Critic’s picks for Bay Area Theatre this weekend:

1. A Taffeta Wedding at Tabard Theatre: The world premiere of A Taffeta Wedding as extended one week, so don’t miss it! “It’s 1964 & wedding bells are ringing for our favorite singing sisters, The Taffetas — and YOU’re invited as they & their crooning beaus, The Cardigans, swoon and sway to favorite ’50s and ’60s pop tunes like Who’s Sorry Now, Sincerely and Locomotion in this nostalgically fun premiere musical about gals and the guys they love, written by Rick Lewis, creator of The Taffetas and A Taffeta Christmas.” For more info go to their website. If I have a chance, I’m going to try to check this one out next week.

2. 13 at CMTSJ13 closed on Broadway in January of this year, so it’s pretty exciting that CMTSJ has gotten this chance to perform this show. 13 doesn’t open till next Wednesday, November 18th and runs till the 22nd. It’s such a short run that I wanted to tell you about it before you missed out! Get more info/tickets, here.

What will you be seeing this weekend? We are off to Wizard of Oz on Friday and finally getting a chance to see The Fantasticks (our pick from last week) on Sunday afternoon.

On my radar:

  • The Seafarer at San Jose Stage Company – Opens next week, November 18th. Get info, here.
  • A Christmas Story at San Jose Rep – Opens November 21 and runs till December 20th. Get info, here.
  • A Civil War Christmas at TheatreWorks – Opens December 2 and runs till December 27 (with a possible extension). Get info, here.
 
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Posted by on 11/13/2009 in Weekend Picks

 

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