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Give the gift of theater

Jeff McCarthy, left, in "Dr Seuss' How the

Jeff McCarthy, left, in "Dr Seuss' How the Grinch stole Christmas" Credit: Jeff McCarthy, left, in "Dr Seuss' How the Grinch stole Christmas."

Looking to buy a Christmas or late Hanukkah gift for a theater-savvy friend? Below are some recent books, cast albums and other items that ought to do the trick.

Cast albums
While there are plenty of cast albums available from the hit musicals of last season ("Once," "Newsies") and even a few from this season ("Chaplin," "A Christmas Story"), I highly recommend purchasing any of the three albums preserving last season's entire City Center Encores! season, including Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Pipe Dream" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" with "Smash" star Megan Hilty.

Books
"Performance of the Century," an engaging history of Actors' Equity Association to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding, and "Broadway Musicals: From the Pages of The New York Times," a comprehensive collection of theater reviews covering more than 100 years, would look good on any coffee table. For more idiosyncratic criticism, check out "Hard Times," which explores the "adult" musicals of the 1970s, and "Love Song," Ethan Mordden's exploration of composer Kurt Weill and actress Lotte Lenya.

Tickets
While you can also purchase tickets for any show that is now running, including holiday-themed ones like "Elf" and "The Grinch," I recommend ordering advance tickets for "Matilda," which has won incredible acclaim in London and will premiere on Broadway in the spring.

DVDs/Blue-ray
Although a planned movie theater screening of the "Jesus Christ Superstar" arena tour got canceled due to superstorm Sandy a few weeks ago, you can pre-order it on Amazon.com. You can also purchase the video recording of the Philharmonic's excellent all-star production of "Company" starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone and Stephen Colbert.

Souvenirs
As you'd expect, there are always T-shirts available for purchase. But if you're looking for a more unusual souvenir, you can choose from a great variety of mementos at the "A Christmas Story" souvenir booth over at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, including a tall leg lamp and bunny pajamas. But strangely enough, no Red Ryder BB gun is for sale.

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