Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

Holiday shopping is always a stressful exercise, but during a time when it's the thought that counts, why not use this as an opportunity to share new music and writers with your friends and family?

Like last year, the go-to gift for any lyricist/composer/librettist in your life was Sondheim's first book, and this year its companion, Look, I Made a Hat, is hitting the shelves again just in time for the holidays. You can even get the "Hat Box" with both books -- if your musical theatre enthusiast hasn't already beaten you to the punch.

When it comes to recordings, there are a few go-tos that are topping my personal wish list and are becoming staples on my gift list for others. For stocking stuffers, look no further than Shaina Taub's EP, What Otters Do, which will be sure to charm any folksy, jazzy fans for only $3.99 a pop. Today also marks the official release of The Burnt Part Boys cast recording, a gorgeous little show that I loved at Playwrights Horizon last year (What are the chances for a recording of The Shaggs come next year? Now that would be a Chrismakkuh miracle). And if you or anyone you know doesn't have a copy of Kooman & Dimond's Out of Our Heads or Georgia Stitt's My Lifelong Love, you should get on that ASAP.

For a more creative gift that also supports new artists, try taking part in some crowd funding projects. Right now, Ryan Scott Oliver and Matthew Murphy are raising money through Kickstarter for a recording and performance of their show 35MM, the project that gave birth to favorite songs like "Hemming and Hawing," "The Ballad of Sara Berry," and, yes, "Crazytown." Depending on your donation level, you can score swag like the finished cast recording, signed posters, and even a limited edition photo print. You can also support the Steampunk musical, Futurity, by band The Lisps as they work to produce a cast recording of their show. Use the Kickstarter campaign to pre-order the album for loved ones, and follow it up with tickets to their Joe's Pub concert on December 16th.

If you would rather treat your friends to some quality time, drinking in the holiday spirit, there are many winter concerts on the horizon. My New York Christmas tradition involves Joe Iconis and family debauchery at Ars Nova for the Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular. Strapped for cash? Check out free concerts from a ton of new musical theatre writers as a part of the Broadway's Future at Lincoln Center and at the NYTB D-Lounge on December 11 and 12.

As the year winds down, it's nice to remember what the holidays are all about: family, friendship, love, and good will. How can music not make its way into that equation?

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