Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times; Cirque Du Soleil
Splurge: Gift cards can be ordered over the phone though the Geffen's audience service line at (310) 208-2028 or online at http://www.geffenplayhouse.com by clicking the "Tickets" tab at the top of the home page.
Psychologists have pointed out that the best gifts are experiences rather than material objects. If you want to create lasting memories for a loved one, why not give them something you can enjoy together? Theater provides such an opportunity — an outing that has the potential to expand your horizons, or at the very least, set conversation heatedly in motion during the drive home. The Geffen Playhouse has a gift card option that allows you to give the gift of a single show (perhaps Kathleen Turner in "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins"), an entire-season subscription or some dollar amount in between. What better way to honor the memory of Gil Cates, the Geffen's irreplaceable founder who died this fall? Supporting local theater is good for the city, good for your lucky recipient and good for your own morale.
-- Charles McNulty
Bargain: "Iris" soundtrack $15, eboutique.cirquedusoleil.com and other album outlets.
It was kind of a no-brainer for Cirque du Soleil to hire Danny Elfman to compose the soundtrack to its movie-themed show "Iris," which opened this fall at the Kodak Theatre. Before he became one of Hollywood's most prolific composers ("Batman," " Spider-Man 2," "Alice In Wonderland"), Elfman was the songwriter and driving force behind the genre-busting L.A. rock band Oingo Boingo. In a previous creative life, Elfman was a member of the French magic-theatrical troupe Le Grand Magic Circus. Not surprisingly, the 17-song soundtrack Elfman has devised for "Iris" is a mood-rich montage that synthesizes rock, Latin jazz, Balinese gamelan, Japanese taiko drums and serialism. It evokes Hollywood genres like film noir and 1930s musicals, with an athleticism and grace that's equally suitable if you're swinging from a trapeze or chilling on the sofa.
-- Reed Johnson