"" Writer's Wanderings: NYC - Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NYC - Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes

Besides the Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, our goal was also to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall this year. On our previous visit, we had seen the show and enjoyed it so much that we caught it again when it came to Cleveland. Seeing it at the RCM though is the best.
The show features the Rockettes in a dozen or so different scenes and costumes and routines the most famous of which is the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers which they've been doing since the Spectacular's inception in 1933. Each year is a little different in presentation but it always ends with a live nativity that includes camels, sheep and a donkey. I liked it a little better the first time I saw it when they did it as the very last thing you saw before leaving. This year, they did a curtain call after the nativity scene. While the entertainers certainly deserve their due--it is a grueling workout for them and done 5/6 times a day (there are two squads of Rockettes that alternate performances), I wish they would have taken their curtain call before the nativity scene.

Seeing it in the 5,600+ seat theater in NYC though is spectacular in itself. The theater is fashioned after a sunset as seen on the ocean. The stage being the center of concentric rings that are lit before/after the performance with glowing lights reminiscent of a sunset. The backs of the chairs are made to look like ripples in the water when viewed from a distance. Getting a "backstage" tour gives you a greater appreciation for the architecture and history of the place as well as an opportunity to meet and have a picture taken with a Rockette.

Unlike our first visit in the 70s when we actually got to walk behind the large movie screen that used to show premiere movies, we got to tramp up and down the steps of an area in the back of the theater. Entering the Presidential Suite, we spent a few minutes enjoying the view from 200 feet above the stage. Our guide explained that now they have the world's largest HD screen which forms the backdrop for many of the scenes for the show. My only comment was, "No, honey. NO."

A few tips if you are going: The seats way up front are not necessarily the best. While there is no bad seat, we found (from the third row) that it was difficult to take in the whole stage. And we often missed the entry of some of the performers that took place on the sides and behind us. Prepare to stand in line even with a ticket. Once one performance is cleared out, the next one is ushered in. It's quite a turn around but the place is busy. Imagine getting all 5600+ guests out, then clean up, then seat the next group every couple of hours. It's amazing.

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