There’s a week to go until Santa pays us all a visit – unless you’ve ended up on the naughty list – so if you’re panicking about what to buy the theatre-lover in your life, I’ve got a few ideas for you. And it’s definitely not a big hint about what I might want to receive on Christmas Day. Obviously not.
Tickets and tokens
The obvious starting point for any frequent theatregoer – it’s an expensive pastime, so help them out with a gift of tickets. But where to start?
If you’re looking for a big, sparkling musical, you can’t go wrong with the newest hit in town: in the gorgeous setting of the Savoy Theatre, Dreamgirls has finally had its UK premiere and by all accounts it’s a hot hit. For comedy, you can’t go wrong (although they do frequently…) with The Play That Goes Wrong, which cranks up the comedy until you’re crying with laughter. And if you need something to please all the family, check out the National’s Peter Pan – contemporary and cool, wistful and nostalgic all in one.
If you’re struggling to pick one, Theatre Tokens are a great way to give the gift of theatre without the pressure of choosing.
In the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, you could do worse than pairing a love for the Bard with a love of chocolate. Sweet Theatre‘s “theatrically inspired confectionery” pairs Shakespeare’s heroines with a dozen different flavours, perfect for the leading lady in your life.
From stage to page
It’s winter, no-one’s got much money left in January, so perhaps it’ll be time to curl up with a good book. Couldn’t get tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The script is only slightly second best, and will make sure everyone’s up-to-date on those brilliant plot twists. For something a bit more comprehensive, Benedict Nightingale’s Great Moments in the Theatre reflects on some of the most notable productions in history, from 548BC right through to 2009AD.
New releases this year include Harriet Walter’s Brutus and Other Heroines, in which one of our finest actresses reflects on playing all the roles Shakespeare wrote for women, and starting on those written for men: a great follow-up for anyone who saw the Donmar Shakespeare trilogy of the last couple of years.
If photography’s your thing, also out this year is Curtain Call: A Year Backstage in London Theatre 2016, containing photographs and interviews with some of the West Ends biggest stars of the year. Simon Annand’s The Half, which features beautiful images of actors preparing to go on stage to perform, is another treat – a gorgeous addition to your bookshelf or coffee table.
Wear it well
I picked up my theatrical mask earrings on a trip to Broadway (showing off, sorry…), but there’s a great range available on Etsy, and plenty of cufflinks too. The RSC gift shop always has some lovely jewellery options, and I love their range of slogan t-shirts. If there’s a little person in your life, don’t miss their adorable selection of baby wear as well!
Time for a sing-along
And last but least, relive your favourite musicals with some soundtracks and DVDs. Yes, I know we’re all about iTunes and Netflix now, but I’m old-fashioned and I still think there’s something nice about the physical copy in your hand. Performances of Gypsy and Miss Saigon have both been captured on film this year, and you can celebrate the return of Rent to the London stage by revisiting the 2005 movie.
I am always cheered up by the Memphis the Musical cast recording with Beverley Knight and Killian Donnelly’s superb vocals, and you can also see the Broadway production on film. Most self-respecting theatre bods already have the Hamilton soundtrack, but try the Hamilton Mixtape if you can’t get enough of this record-breaking show. Another option for the jazz-hand-phobic is Lazarus, created by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, but if you’d rather go down the classical route, take inspiration from Classic FM with some Shakespeare-inspired works.
Happy gift-giving, and merry Christmas!