PopCult Note: Mel Larch, also known to readers of this blog as Mrs. PopCulteer, is also the host of Curtain Call, a weekly one hour show featuring the best of musical theatre, on The AIR. Today Mel offers up some ideas for the musical theater buff on your holiday gift list.
If you had to sum up musical theatre for 2016 in one word, it would have to be Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking, award winning musical about the “ten dollar founding father,” featuring a score that effortlessly fuses hip-hop, R & B, and pop, has become a cultural phenomenon.
Tickets for both the Broadway and touring production can be difficult (not to mention pricey) to aquire, but there’s several things out there to please the Hamilton fan in your life.
Written by Miranda in collaboration with cultural critic and theatre artist Jeremy McCarter (who was involved in the show from its earliest stages), Hamilton: The Revolution traces the show’s development from a performance at the White House to its Broadway opening six years later.
Fans will be delighted at the inclusion of the show’s libretto, complete with funny and revealing footnotes from Miranda, along with exclusive looks at notebooks and e-mails pertaining to the production.
Stunning photos from Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer Joan Marcus enhance the narrative, which also contains interviews with leading political commentators, The Roots frontman Questlove, award winning composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and over 50 people involved with the show. There’s even multiple appearances by none other than President Obama himself.
With its message that America has always been renewed by the upstarts, the outsiders, the brash and the brilliant who don’t “throw away their shot,” Hamilton: The Revolution is a must-have addition to the library of any musical theatre fan, especially for those who enjoy “behind the scenes” stories of how a show is crafted from a simple idea to a smashing success. Hamilton: The Revolution can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore using the ISBN number above or from Amazon.
Of course, any fan of a musical needs their own copy of the original cast recording they can sing along with at home or in the car. The Original Cast Recording of Hamilton, which features musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, is available as both a 2-CD and 4 record vinyl set which you should be able to find anyplace where music is sold.
We had the pleasure of seeing the 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Fun Home, on Broadway earlier this year. I haven’t seen an officially licensed “Ring of Keys” (one of the show’s many great songs), but that doesn’t mean there’s not something out there for the Fun Home fan on your holiday gift list.
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir is also the basis for the equally groundbreaking musical, Fun Home. Written over a seven year period, this book centers around Bechdel’s coming to terms with her sexuality and coming out as a lesbian, her complicated relationship with her closeted gay father, and her attempts to come to terms with the mysteries surrounding his life.
Drawn in a simple black line style, Bechdel’s meticulous artistic process and attention to detail beautifully brings her story to life. She posed for each human figure herself in many of the book’s panels, along with painstakingly copying many family photographs, letters, local maps and excerpts from her childhood journal, incorporating all of these elements into her narrative. The end result is a highly personal and powerful story that is sure to engage all but the most unenlightened readers.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a great read for fans of the musical, as well as fans of cartooning and autobiographic graphic novels. You can find it at your local bookstore using the ISBN code above or through Amazon.
Although the “house on Maple Avenue” recently closed its doors on Broadway and headed out on its first national tour, you can still enjoy the incredible performances of the original cast, including Huntington native Michael Cerveris in his Tony Award winning role of Bruce Bechdel (Alison’s closeted father) on the show’s original cast recording.
With an incredible score by Jeanine Tresori and lyrics by Lisa Kron, Fun Home will take you on a musical journey that is by turns charming, funny, sad and ultimately uplifting as Alison (portrayed at different stages in her life by three different actresses) tries to make sense of her complicated family. The Original Cast Recording should be available whereever music is sold.
You can also find a variety of fun gifts for your favorite musical theatre lover online at Playbill Magazine‘s online store, including t-shirts, snow globes, CDs and DVDs, and more! And while tickets to Hamilton or many other popular shows might not be in your gift budget, there’s always plenty of local theatre companies who would love to see you buy a ticket for yourself or a friend and be part of their audience not just at the holidays, but the whole year through.
You can hear a marathon of Curtain Call on The AIR today from 3 PM to Midnight. Tune in at the website, or listen to this handy little embedded player…