Here's a list of Videos, CDs and books for the theatre lover on your gift list--as chosen by Playbill On-Line's Senior Editor, Louis Botto.
HOME VIDEOS: The acclaimed 10th anniversary gala, Les Miserables In Concert, recorded live on October 8, 1995, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, has been released on video by Columbia TriStar Home Video (159 minutes). The dream cast includes Colm Wilkinson, Lea Salonga, Michael Ball, Michael Maguire, Anthony Crivello and Judy Kuhn and features extraordinary singers from the London, N.Y., Toronto, and Australian productions.
Universally hailed for its intricately-precisioned dances, Riverdance--The Show, the song and dance extravaganza from Dublin, truly celebrates the glorious energy of the Irish. The 71-minute video (released by Columbia TriStar Home Video) was filmed live at The Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland with The Riverdance Irish Dance Company, accompanied by the Riverdance Orchestra.
The magnificent 1964 film of My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, has been re-mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality and released on a single video for the first time by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
The 40th anniversary of the film of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I is being celebrated with the Special Collector's Edition laserdisc of the classic starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. The THX-approved widescreen transfer is distributed exclusively by Image Entertainment. The laserdisc also includes interviews with Mary Rodgers, James Hammerstein, Ernest Lehman, among others; a color guide; and a 24K Gold CD of the original soundtrack.
FRONT PAIGE NEWS: The acclaimed British musical star, Elaine Page, now starring on Broadway as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, has recorded Encore, her debut Atlantic Theatre release. Paige's clarion voice is heard in best-loved tracks from her most popular London stage roles: Evita, Piaf, Cats and Sunset Boulevard. This British superstar has four multi-platinum and four gold albums to her credit.
POP OPERA: The original cast recording of Jonathan Larson's Rent, is available on a two-CD set. Larson's eclectic score runs the gamut from rock anthems and ballads to R&B and gospel. Highlights include the gospel-inflected "Seasons of Love," the tender ballad "One Song Glory" and the R&B powerhouse "Take Me or Leave Me." And a bonus track features Stevie Wonder and the cast on a reworking of "Seasons Of Love." The electrifying recording is the first Broadway album from DreamWorks Records. WORDS & MUSIC: Julie Andrews (Victor/ Victoria) can be heard on Julie Andrews Broadway: Here I'll Stay--The Words of Alan Jay Lerner, a nostalgic rendering of songs by Lerner. The impressive range of composers Lerner worked with includes Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, Burton Lane, Andre; Previn, Charles Strouse, all represented on this exciting recording. Says Ms. Andrews about Lerner's lyrics: "The words of Alan Jay Lerner are so brilliant and timeless. Singing the glorious songs from My Fair Lady and Camelot brought back a host of wonderful memories." (Available on CD and cassette on the Philips label.)
Admirers of the music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber are in for a royal treat. Polydor and Really Useful have released an 18-track compilation documenting Lloyd Webber's sensational career. Called The Very Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber--The Broadway Collection, the album contains the composer's best-loved songs recorded by the artists who made them famous, in addition to special guests. The selections are from Jesus Christ Superstar, Requiem, Aspects of Love, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. In addition, the collection includes the title track from his latest smash--By Jeeves--headed for B'way this season.
MELODIC MEMOIR: Jerry Herman, the only composer/lyricist to have had three shows to run over 1,500 performances each on Broadway (Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles) has written (with critic Marilyn Stasio) a warm, amusing and honest memoir of his spectacular career and love affair with musical theatre called Showtune. Aspiring musical comedy writers will learn a lot about the art of writing successful, melodic and lyrically enchanting musicals from this book (Donald I. Fine Books, New York).
MUSICAL DELIGHT: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein has written a delightful book for all ages called Pamela's First Musical. Lavishly illustrated by Andrew Jackness, it re-creates the excitement of a nine-year-old girl who is taken to her first Broadway musical by her glamorous Aunt Louise. Wasserstein's love and knowledge of the theatre makes this an enchanting adventure for anyone who recalls the thrill of a first visit to a splashy Broadway musical (Hyperion Books for Children).
DAZZLING NEW STAGE SHOP: A new theatre memorabilia shop, Theatre Circle, has opened at 268 W. 44th St. Another enterprise of Broadway, New York, Inc., the sparkling mecca consists of a gift shop stocked with a vast array of show merchandise and a library room with hundreds of theatre books, which you can peruse while sipping cappuccino. --
By Louis Botto