Stocking Stuffers

If you’re thinking about gift ideas for the theatre-lovers in your life, I have a few suggestions:


In addition to the new “Fosse” biography by Sam Wasson which I mentioned in an earlier post and which is on my virtual must-read list for 2014, there are a couple of books I read this year that I can personally recommend.

I just finished reading a book by Michael Sokolove called “Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater”.DRAMA HIGH  Having been a fortunate participant in a remarkable high school drama program myself (although one about as different from this one in Levittown, PA as is possible), I was personally fascinated to read about the talented teacher Lou Volpe and his students at Harry S. Truman High School over the last forty-plus years.  (Imagine doing the first high school production of Les Miserables with Cameron Mackintosh in the audience as a test case so he could decide whether to release the rights out for high school productions generally.)  Quite a story on many levels; many stories.  Anyone you know who is or was active in high school theatre would enjoy reading “Drama High”.

Earlier this year (and now out in paperback), I read “Better Nate Than Ever” which is purportedly a children’s novel but which I found totally fun to read.  NATEWritten by a young Broadway dancer, Tim Federle (he’s danced in The Little Mermaid, Gypsy, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang), one guesses that the character of Nate, who can recite Sondheim lyrics by heart in middle school, might be a bit autobiographical.  Nate sneaks off and hops a bus to New York City to crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical in what Patrick Healy of the New York Times called “a twinkling adventure tale for the musical theatre set”.


If you’re looking for a CD to play on a road trip, I have one for you:  Laura Benanti’s “In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live At 54 BELOW”.laurabenanti  I recommend it for driving because it needs to be listened to instead of used as background music.  It’s a live album and has some fun and quirky stories and commentary between tracks that really reflect this Broadway star’s personality, and songs that showcase her beautiful soprano.  Her musical director, accompanist (and occasional singer too) on this album is Todd Almond.  (I’ve been a fan of his since I saw his musical Girlfriend in TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival several years ago and on Berkeley Rep’s stage a year later.)  Benanti sings a full hour set and mixes oldies, old pop and Broadway songs.


Finally, remember that theatre tickets are a perfect fit as stocking stuffers. Check your local listings and you’re sure to find some great live theatre on now or coming soon.

"Little Women" at TheatreWorks photo by Tracy Martin

“Little Women” at TheatreWorks
photo by Tracy Martin

If you live in or near Silicon Valley, California, TheatreWorks is running a beautiful production of the musical Little Women through January 4, perfect for everyone in the family. They are also selling a great Holiday gift subscription package of four tickets to the four shows remaining in its season after Little Women for a special price of $119, or 2 for $224.  Now that’s a nice gift!

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