gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for People Who Miss Broadway, According to Theater-Lovers

Photo: Retailers

While many folks have found new ways to safely enjoy old hobbies in our new era of social distancing, there are a few pastimes that are still hard — if not near impossible — to indulge in. Live theater, of course, is one of them, and even the most optimistic of timelines may not allow Broadway-lovers to return to their seats for the better part of a year. Since theatergoers will likely need an even bigger dose of holiday cheer this year, we decided to ask seven Broadway experts — from podcast hosts to critics to producers to dancers — for their thoughts on the best gifts to delight people like themselves. From subscriptions, to services that stream Broadway productions, to zipper pouches made from the Kinky Boots curtains, to a cult-favorite pair of dancing shoes, any of their 21 recommendations below will surely be met with applause from the theater-lover in your life.

Music and books

Perhaps the easiest way to bring a bit of Broadway to a theater-lover’s home is through song, which is why we were not too surprised to hear five of our experts mention cast recordings as worthy gifts, whether you stick one in a stocking or wrap it up in a bow. Three of those five, including theater and culture journalist Diep Tran, specifically recommend this new holiday album from the cast of smash hit Hadestown, which Tran notes was recorded “while they’ve been stuck at home.” The album, she adds, “features holiday favorites and original songs from Hadestown composer, Anaïs Mitchell, and the gorgeous three-part harmonies of Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad, and Jewelle Blackman, the trio that leads Orpheus and Eurydice down to the underworld in the show.” Writer Ashley Steves also says this album would make for a great gift, calling it a “lush, hypnotic, and serotonin-inducing take on both classics and new songs.” Its third fan, Matthew Wexler, a culture writer and the lead editor of the Broadway Blog, adds that his favorite part is “the signature sound of the band’s trombonist, Brian Drye.”

Next to music, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a coffee-table book,” says Steves, “even if, like me, your recipient doesn’t have a coffee table.” Working on a Song, she explains, takes readers inside the lyrics of Hadestown, offering a “behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into the show.” Steves owns a copy and says, “I always find joy going through it.”

For a look at the work that went into more than one show, playwright and theater critic Marcus Scott recommends this book that he calls “an oral history of one of America’s greatest theatrical institutions, as told by its legendary founder, Joe Papp, his contemporaries, and the stars that shined on its various stages.” Whether they’ve been to the Public Theater or not, Scott says this book is a “must-have for any lover of theater made in the last half-century.”

According to theater critic and journalist Nicole Serratore, this album will delight more than just kids. As Serratore tells it, she “walked into this Broadway musical a skeptic and came out a Bikini Bottom evangelist.” The production, she says, is a “smart, radical, inclusive show about community, friendship, environmental disaster, and immigration that manages to be both progressively political and joyful.” The cast recording of its songs, she adds, is the perfect thing to put on “whenever I need a pick-me-up.”