Did You Hear About?

Did You Hear About: Giving The Gift of Theater

Audra McDonald photo by Allison Michael Orenstein

Hey, look at that! We almost made it to the end of 2020. Yeah, it's been a long, hard road, and some of us have lost loved ones along the way, and others have faced inner and outer demons that they never knew they had. My point is: We all deserve to treat ourselves with a little love for the next 4 weeks, because the previous 47 put us through the ringer in ways that will live on well after the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve.

And when I talk about showing ourselves a little love and reminding ourselves that we're still here, I mean turning to my favorite internal hug and form of self-care -- art!

This month, I invite you to look to art and not only recall all the ways you've embraced it throughout the year to help you cope with months of unending uncertainty, but also remember that when it comes to gift-giving, an experience is just as powerful a present as anything that can be gift-wrapped.

So without further ado, let me share with you some artful distractions, actions and yes, gifts, that you can seek out to make your next 4 weeks shine a little brighter.

An Evening With Audra McDonald

For only $35, you can watch the one I call the Grand Goddess of the Broadway stage, Audra McDonald, craft a melody with the most soothing voice you've heard all year in the online City Center Gala presentation. The six-time Tony Award winner will set the stage on fire for an evening of songs that showcase her extraordinary vocal range in popular standards from the Great American Songbook and classics from the golden age of Broadway.

The concert premieres live on Wednesday, December 9th at 7:30pm EST and will be available on demand for one week until Wednesday, December 16th. I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. McDonald onstage in 2016 in Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, as well as in the 2019 revival of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in Clair de Lune, and I can say she is definitely not a performer who rests on her laurels. You won't want to miss this event, and for such a low price, you certainly won't regret it.

London’s LGBTQ Theatreland Tour

A young Sir Ian McKellen in a play - photo credit unknown

You say you like theater, but you want a little gossip and behind-the-scenes revelations to go with it. Or maybe you're just a history buff who's always up for learning more about secret and not-so-secret details about the days of yore. Well, thankfully Oscar Wilde Tours has taken their show off the road and placed it online for people around the world to enjoy. Whether you want to learn about the famous sculptors, playwrights, poets or actors who shaped the art world while practicing the love that dare not speak its name, Oscar Wilde Tours has something for you.

One such tour that I know I'm looking forward to is coming up this Sunday, December 6th at 2pm EST. Theater lovers around the globe are well-versed in London's reputation as a pillar of creativity in the English-speaking world, but do you know how much of that reputation is owed to members of the LGBTQ+ community? Well, join hosts Nick Collinson and Dan Vo as they present London's LGBTQ Theatreland Tour on Sunday to learn more about the intersection of queer liberation and creative ingenuity, spanning the lives of Oscar Wilde, Maud Allen, Sir John Gielgud, Oliver Messel, Sir Ian McKellen and many more, and all for only $10 a ticket.

The Perfect Holiday Gift That Also Supports Broadway Artists

We all know a lot of folks are struggling financially in 2020 due to the pandemic quarantine, and we're all just doing the best we can under incredibly difficult circumstances. One of the ways some Broadway artists, artisans and administrators are pivoting to make ends meet is through their alternative revenue streams that feed their souls along with their bellies. Thankfully, Broadway Direct columnist Leigh Scheps has curated a wonderful gift guide for those who might want to delight their favorite theater geek with a present that helps employees of the Great White Way stay on their feet until we can all return next June.

Whether it's Broadway dancer Katie Webber's holistic cookbook, stage manager Casey Hunsader's candle and essential oils company, actress Kimber Sprawl's clothing line, or dancer Timothy Hughes' live dance instruction classes, the backbone of the theater community is still strong and carrying on. Check out Scheps' article and see if there are one or two or three gifts you'd like to share with your friends and family or keep all to yourself. From wine to jewelry to floral arrangements, the list is pretty impressive and the creative minds behind it are too.

Performer's Puzzle community by Timothy Hughes

I know you have a lot of people in your life who could use your support this time of year, so I completely understand if you'd prefer to spend your hard-earned money elsewhere. I just want to remind you that the arts have been there for all of us as we've each dealt with this understandably trying year, no matter if you worked from home, are a front line or essential worker, or are currently seeking employment or assistance. The arts matter now more than ever, so if giving the gift of music, history, or creative wares from those who remind us why we should keep our heads up is not in the cards for you at this time, I ask that you please share this blog post with others in your life and remember the artists in 2021 and beyond.

Top Image: Audra MacDonald photo by Allison Michael Orenstein | Middle Image: A young Sir Ian McKellen in a play - photo credit unknown | Bottom Image: Performer's Puzzle community by Timothy Hughes

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