I am not sure how many times my wife and I have had the opportunity to visit New York City, but this is the first time that we have ever been at Christmas. The trip has not disappointed.
Our first night we attended the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in the Rockefeller Center. It was more on Mary Lou’s bucket list that mine, but having no other Christmas present ideas for her, I secured front row seats.
I first became aware of the Rockettes many years ago when my grandparents attended. I remember pictures of a line of chorus girls kicking in unison. These many years later, I did not know much more about the production. I was expecting an hour and a half of can-can dancing and some good holiday music.
Boy, were my assumptions wrong. Just being at Rockefeller Center at Christmas puts you in a festive mood. We walked by the Christmas tree with its 50,000 lights shining brightly over the ice rink. Decorations on nearby 5th Avenue were remarkable by any measure. The windows at the major stores were literally works of art.
Just walking into the performance hall will take your breath away. The venue seats 3,500 people and literally glowed in red from the curtains and lighting. It is architecturally magnificent today. I can only imagine what people thought when they saw the Music Hall open just over 85 years ago while in the midst of the Great Depression.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the show. The Rockettes did not disappoint. In fact, I was continually amazed how they used new technology to bring the old show and story to life. It is hard to believe that this year is the 85th anniversary of the first Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular show.
The 3-D technology combined with state-of-the-art props and lighting made it seem like you were personally immersed in the story. The production was slick and fast, with costume changes seeming to take only seconds. The singing and dancing were worthy of any Broadway performance.
Of course, there were the girls. 36 beautiful women who dance with precision and symmetry that was alone worthy of the price of admission.
Perhaps it was the pilgrimage of the wise men and the nativity scene that made me realize how much I had underestimated this show. Live sheep followed the shepherds. Wise men rode on camels across the stage as they followed the star.
This was not a secular holiday show with dancing girls. This was a beautiful depiction of the story of the birth of Christ. The Christmas carols were sung by talented voices accompanied by a large impressive orchestra.
The larger story of two brothers seeking a gift for their sister and the role of Santa Claus in their pursuit was well done and would be entertaining to all ages. However, it was the story of Jesus’ birth told within that larger plot that left its mark on my mind and my heart.
We have heard from many friends that had seen the Rockettes’ Christmas show years ago and how much they loved it. The recent updates to the production and its enhanced use of technology make a repeat visit well worth their time.
Sometimes the title says it all. The Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular Show was, well, it was just spectacular.
Dan Ponder can be reached at Dan@Ponderenterprises.net