Broadway makes a great gift

'Broadway's Carols for a Cure," Volume 12. This boggling collection of talent lays down 23 tracks on a $20 two-CD set - one specially arranged holiday number performed by the casts of almost every musical now on Broadway. Proceeds go to Broadway Cares, supporting AIDS patients and women's health issues, so it's two gifts in one: the music and a donation. Check out the cast of American Idiot's beautiful "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and you'll be sold. (Order at or call 212-840-0770, Ext. 250)


MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

'Finishing the Hat," by Stephen Sondheim. America's foremost musical-theater composer, much feted in this, his 80th year, gives his own gift in the form of this book of collected lyrics, which he subtitles "with attendant comments, principles, heresies, grudges, whines and anecdotes." It's exhaustive, with curiosities that include copies of handwritten attempts at lyrics on note-lined sheets. (Knopf, 445 pp, $39.95, available at bookstores online)


Playbill books. If your giftee is a Broadway lover, Playbill's At This Theater may be just the ticket. This newly released update is a much-expanded version of the one-page feature in every Playbill about the theater where the show is being performed. It ends up as a 110-year history not just of Broadway's current 40 theaters, but of Broadway itself, and it's festooned with great pictures. (Applause Books, 436 pp, $38.99, available at bookstores)

Gift tickets for Philadelphia stages. The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia offers two types of gift certificates in various denominations, good for about 70 regional theater companies. Your happy recipients can use them to buy show tickets, intermission snacks, anything the theater sells - and they'll even get change in real money. "Regular certificates" apply to any show at a participating theater. "Access certificates" are for shows with captioned, signed and audio-described performances. (Regular: gift-certificates. Access: access)


The Tyler Perry Collection. Melodramatic and rollicking urban black serio-comedy is Perry's specialty as an actor/writer/producer (although his current film, For Colored Girls, boosts him to a major high-stakes level). All flicks with his alter ego Madea are in stores everywhere, but so are his often passionate, morality-play stage renditions of these titles before he remakes them for Hollywood. We chose a $40 three-pack set of recorded plays that became films: Madea Goes to Jail, Why Did I Get Married? and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The DVD of his newest play, Madea's Big Happy Family, is in stores this week. (Available at record stores)