No matter what your life looks like approaching Christmas each year, there will always be a slight cloud of organisational related dread floating above your head in December. The songs are merry, the decorations are made of glitter – a theatre person should thrive in the Christmas environment, but sadly, this is not always the case.
While I can’t instruct you on which festive foods should be on your table come the 25th, or help you with which treats you should leave out for Santa and his reindeer, I’ve combined my theatrical expertise and love of gift-giving to create a perfect list of presents to populate the space under the tree of a theatre fan.
For the Big Spender
If you’re cashed up this Christmas and want to splurge on someone special, theatre tickets or a subscription to a 2016 season is definitely the way to go. With so many productions launching across Australia next year, choices in this category are not limited. From CATS to Heathers, In the Heights to We Will Rock You, there are shows to match any preference in 2016, and season subscriptions are just as varied (we recommend looking at Melbourne/Sydney Theatre Company, the Production Company, or Hayes Theatre Co for season tickets, but you can look up nearly any group or company that produces multiple stage pieces a year to see what best suits the person receiving your gift.)
It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst theatre fans that “children will listen”, so why don’t you kick-start their stage habit early by hooking them on animated Disney musicals? If you introduce them to Anna and Elsa at a young age you may soon find yourself with a small human that can’t get enough of Glinda and Elphaba.*
I recommend Cinderella, Frozen and Beauty and the Beast for kids aged five and under, and Tarzan, Mulan, Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame for anyone a little older.
You also can’t go wrong with introducing a kid to The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins at a young age – I would barely consider their youthful years a childhood if Dame Julie isn’t their nanny at some
*My apologies for using Disney in a gateway drug metaphor… It’s true though.
For the “straight play” fan
Although generally considered rather strange, people who prefer plays to musicals do exist and deserve a Christmas present just as much as the rest of us.
For them, a play script would make a lovely present. Research their taste a little – would they bite their thumb at receiving a paperback Shakespeare? Is a hardcover Tennessee Williams more their type? Definitely add a personal touch to a book by inscribing it with a message about how much the person receiving the gift means to you, or why you thought they might enjoy the play you chose.
Handy hint: for any book purchases, check out booko. The site offers a price comparison service for many large retailers and could save you precious dollars.
For the fangirl/fanboy
If someone in your life has been obsessing over a stage work for more than a few months, please support their love by giving them something related to it. If you know their favourite show without asking, look it up online and check out the available merchandise from the official online store, or search eBay for a Playbill or window card. If this person is anything like me, finding production images from their favourite show and printing them or buying an old record from a second-hand/vintage store would also make for a fabulous and low-budget present.
Walls. A blank page or canvas. My favourite… So many possibilities.
For your singing teacher/vocal coach
Buying new sheet music is a never-ending expense for music teachers, so it may be a nice gesture to quickly scan through their score collection and gift them something they don’t have yet. If you go for anything musical theatre related, try and make sure you select a show with a lot of solo pieces (chorus numbers are fantastic, but you can’t teach them to a solo student), or possibly introduce your teacher to something completely new and support new musical theatre writers at either homegrownaus or newmusicaltheatre. As much as your teacher may love fancy but useless knickknacks, floral teacups or those strange beige angels, they will probably enjoy an addition to their music library more.
Again, a handy hint for this item is to check booko or eBay for price comparisons. It sucks to not support brick-and-mortar music stores, but you’ll find that scores/selections sell for half the price online.
For serial performers
We all have a person in our life that we love more than living itself, but haven’t seen in months because they are always rehearsing. In both amateur and professional circles, these are the people that are most in need of a theatrical emergency kit.
To create this kit, simply buy a cheap makeup bag (Kmart, Big W and Target are never without them) and fill it with theatrical essentials like bobby pins, safety pins, hair ties, electrical tape, makeup sponges, eyelash glue, clear nail polish – anything that goes missing after a dress rehearsal and sends people into a blind panic if it can’t be found on opening night.
Items for this present can be bought in bulk, meaning an emergency kit can be prepared for many friends using the same products. Make sure to personalise them by adding a note with a cherished memory or shared theatre reference.
For those who want to push their own obsessions onto friends and family
While I’m too young to have actually experienced the magic of a mixtape, I’m pretty sure I understand the point of them. A mix of music tailored to your love of theatre could be the perfect gift idea for a friend.
If a mix feels too personal or will take too long, a straight up cast recording or solo album from a theatre performer would definitely do the trick, and there is no possible way to go wrong with an iTunes gift card.
My recommendations for this option are Hamilton, Heathers, The Bridges of Madison County or Fun Home – each of them are musicals with a massive following that have not necessarily hit large theatre circles in Australia yet.
Featured image © Jimmie. Used under a Creative Commons License.