Radio City Christmas Spectacular Holiday Dance Performance Starring the Rockettes Wearing Danskin Tights and LaDuca Shoes
Presented by JP Morgan Chase
With The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ: George Wesner
and Fred Davies, Organists
At Radio City Music Hall
Avenue of the Americas at West 51st Street
Director and Choreographer: John Dietrich
Executive Producer: John Bonnani
Production Designers: Michael Hotopp and Charles Lisanby
Choreography: John Dietrich and Robert Longbottom
Production Stage Manager: Kathy J. Hoovler
Vocal Arrangements: David Chase
Costumes: Gregg Barnes and Frank Spencer
Sound Design: Dan Gerhard
Producer: Jill DeForte
Asst. Choreographers: Cheryl Hebert Cutlip and Amy Krawek
Music Direction: Grant Sturiale
Lighting Design: Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz
Scenic Design: Bill Hoffman and Mark Solan
Associate Producer: Kathleen O'Leary
Asst. Director: Tim Santos
The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ; Overture; Santa's Magical Journey in 3-D; Santa's Gonna Rock and Roll; The Nutcracker: A Little Girl's Dream; The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers; Here Comes Santa Claus; White Christmas in New York; Ice Skating in the Plaza; The North Pole; Santa's Toy Workshop; and The Living Nativity.
Cast: Charles Edward Hall as Narrator and as Santa Claus; A Collection of actor/dancer/singers as Mrs. Claus, Clara, Skaters, and Elves (6).
The Rockettes: In 1925, the first Rockettes made their debut in St. Louis and were called by their creator, Russell Markert, "The Missouri Rockets". This 16 woman ensemble grew into a 36 member kick line. All across America, hundreds of women audition to be a Rockette, and, so far, over 3,000 women, with requisite skills in tap, jazz, and ballet have joined these ranks. New to the Rockette world are two new education programs, called The Rockette Experience and The Rockette Summer Intensive, both affiliated with Danskin and Broadway Dance Center. A Dancer, age 10 or older, may take a Radio City Stage Door Tour with a Rockette, followed by a three-hour Rockette Repertoire Workshop in The Rockette Experience. In the Summer Intensive, hosted in NY, CA, PA, and TX, dance students intensively study with Rockettes and their Choreographer and also have a performance opportunity. (Program Notes). Rockettes wear Danskin tights and LaDuca Shoes, created by Phil LaDuca.
November 16, 2004
Four words are enough to describe the Radio City Christmas Spectacular: Spectacle, Extravaganza, Exuberance and Precision.
The show starts out with a three dimensional movie that works better as a three dimensional effect than anything else I have seen. Santa swoops through the canyons of New York City so convincingly that you might need Dramamine. A Santa who sounded a little like Elvis narrated most of the show.
The dancing by the Rockettes is the highlight of the show. They are always precise and high energy whether they are doing a tap number in silver LaDuca shoes and sparkly Danskin tights, or performing a classic kick line with legs perfectly aligned. They appear as toy soldiers, rotating a long line of 38 Rockettes around the stage with each dancer moving at just the right speed to make the line rotate as one. They can best be compared to a high level marching band. I happen to like marching bands. The Rockettes don't just move in sync, they work as a team. This was clearest when they fell over liked dominos in response to a "cannon" shot, each Rockette being slowly caught by the next behind her.
The choreography owes a lot to Busby Berkeley in the way large groups of women form intricate and ever changing patterns. The choreography was phenomenal seen head on, but it would have been even better with an overhead mirror. Seeing the choreography from above would be one reason to buy a ticket in the balcony, even if it does put you farther from the stage.
The individual Rockettes are also a pleasure to watch, in addition to their collective effect. For instance, in the number where the Rockettes play shop window mannequins, each Rockette's smile was electric.
The show also features a cast of character dancers performing exuberant Broadway style numbers. One major segment presented a condensed version of The Nutcracker, complete with pandas on bicycles, a kick line with teddy bears, bunnies jumping out of a giant hat and Clara en pointe.
At the end of the first act, the Rockettes, the character dancers and a pair of skaters formed a beautiful tableaux.
The second act was as packed with large scale wonderment as the first. There were more Rockette tap dance numbers, 54 Santas on stage at once, bell ringing, a conga line of elves, the Rockettes performing as rag dolls in a riff on the can-can with one Rockette forming the torso and a second Rockette forming the legs of each doll, as well as the Rockettes playing precision ukuleles. I especially liked the Rockettes as reindeer number. They had bells on their shoes and jackets that jingled as they danced from one line to multiple rows to circles, and finally pulling a sleigh with stylish high kicks.
Much of the show makes it seem like Christmas equals gifts, but they try to balance this with a segment about the importance of caring as the main message of Christmas.
The show ends with an extended nativity scene that included two live camels and enough sheep to make a wool coat. The audience completely ignored the no flash photography rule and was snapping flash photos through this segment. This only added to the spectacle. An audience member behind me exclaimed "How beautiful". It certainly was a magnificent tableaux.
The show is worth seeing just for the Rockettes. If you have kids and like impressive extravaganzas, and especially impressive nativity scenes, you should see this show.
Radio City Rockettes
Photo courtesy of Radio City Entertainment
Also see our preview of the dress rehearsal