Once again we are turning over The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide, to Mel Larch, AKA Mrs. PopCulteer. Mel is the host of Curtain Call, our musical theater program on The AIR, and today, from 7 AM to 3 PM, you can tune in to The AIR and hear eight hours of her show, filled with the best that musical theater has to offer.

Check it out at the website, or on this nifty little embedded tuner.

Now let’s look at Mel’s gift suggestions for the bookworm/theater kid on your holiday shopping list:

When you have a Broadway buff on your holiday gift list, an Original Cast Recording is one way for them to experience the special joys of musical theatre. But there’s certainly other options out there and today, we shine the spotlight on novelizations of two recent Broadway hits which feature teen characters: The Prom and Dear Evan Hansen.

The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical
By Saundra Mitchell, with Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar
ISBN 9781984837523

Seventeen-year old Emma Nolan wants just one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend, Alyssa Greene at their senior prom. But in their small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon.

When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that quickly spirals out of control. The school’s PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother (who doesn’t realize her daughter is a closeted lesbian), threatens to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway stars who decide to take up Emma’s cause–and gain some positive publicity for themselves in the process. But when they arrive in Edgewater to take up the fight on her behalf, their good intentions quickly go south. Between Emma facing the controversy head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it makes for a perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for.

Author Saundra Mitchell, in collaboration with the show’s creative team of Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar (the team behind the musical adaptation of Elf), have crafted an enjoyable novelization of this Tony nominated musical, which is being adapted for Netflix by American Horror Story creator/producer, Ryan Murphy. The story is told from the perspectives of its central couple, Emma and Alyssa, in alternating chapters. There are details that will delight fans of the show, including an interview with Martin, Beguelin, and Sklar, conducted by original cast member, Josh Lamon.

If someone on your gift list has an “unruly heart,” this adaptation of The Prom would be a great gift. Available from bookstores using the ISBN number, or at a discount from Amazon.

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel
By Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul
Poppy/Little Brown and Company
ISBN 9780316420235

When a letter than was never meant to be seen by anyone draws anxiety-ridden high school senior, Evan Hansen, into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell: that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

All of a sudden, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams (who also happens to be Connor’s sister, Zoe). And Connor’s parents, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend, have taken Evan in like he was one of their own.

As Evan gets pulled deeper into the Murphys’ swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows what he’s doing can’t be right. But then again, if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

Singer/songwriter Val Emmich, in collaboration with the show’s creators Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul have created a wonderful adaptation of this Tony Award winning show It’s a big-hearted coming-of-age story about grief, authenticity, and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation. While readers won’t find the “behind the scenes” information that The Prom offers, the authors provide information about some organizations which offer resources to help those struggling with mental health issues.

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel is available from bookstores, using the ISBN number, or at a discount from Amazon.

Either of these novels would be a wonderful way to introduce the budding theatre fan in your life to the world of musical theatre, using stories to which young people can relate. Due to frank discussions of sexuality, suicide, and mental health issues, you may want to be mindful of the maturity level of the intended gift recipient.

Check back during The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide for two more posts, each one covering books that celebrate theatre in a different way.