Christmas Clichés: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular


The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is the epitome of a New York cliché. I’d lived in the city for over four years and I’d never been. I started feeling guilty: “And you call yourself New York Cliché!?” A quick search on the internets and I found $20 tickets. They were front row center…of the 3rd mezzanine, but still good seats. They were for 11am on a Wednesday….but I have enough friends with weird schedules to find a date. The main thing was, they were cheap, I was free Wednesday morning, and excited to see just what this show would be like.

Radio City doesn’t stop you from taking picture like most theaters in NYC.

I’ve seen ballets before, attended operas, there is a box under my bed full of playbills from plays and musicals. This was my first spectacular. There is nothing else to describe it. Even the crowd outside is a spectacle. At least a dozen traffic cops are employed to maintain the swarms of people who see this show. On the last Wednesday of November at 11am, it was relatively calm, when I peered down at the orchestra, it wasn’t even at 50% capacity. But the week before Christmas? It’s hard to imagine. Saturday the 22nd this show performs six times, in ONE day! It boggles my mind! There is no Rockettes “B Cast”- the same ladies perform every show. Unbelievable stamina, you’d think they were plastic machines á la Barbie. But no, they are real-live human beings fulfilling incredible dreams. Magical.


That was the most magical part of the show for me. Watching women who have dreamed of being on that stage since they were seven. Who maybe played with their Rockette Barbie and said, I’m going to be just like her one day. The talent and beauty, but more the drive and dedication is jaw-dropping.

This number "The Parade of Wooden Soldiers" has been performed since 1933! Utterly classic, astonishing precision.
This number “The Parade of Wooden Soldiers” has been performed since 1933! Utterly classic, astonishing precision.

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It is a show made for children, but I certainly enjoyed it from the adult perspective. For me the show was all about The Rockettes, I couldn’t help viewing most of the scenes they were not in as filler: okay, so this is their costume change/water break…are they back yet? As a child, and I could feel this from the energy of the kids around me, the dancing is the boring part (except for those aspiring Rockettes in the audience, and you know they’re there: read about one little girl’s audition process in this fabulous blog of a former dancer) and the scenes in between of Santa are the best part. In the auditorium full of children, one with amazing acoustics, you can hear the vocal reaction. When Santa makes his first appearance, everyone under 5 couldn’t contain their glee: Santa! they squealed. Before the curtain rose, lights began spinning in snowflake shapes, swirling us into a magical blizzard. The collective gasp of children as this happen was magical and put a huge grin on my face. I didn’t stop smiling for the entire production. You want to relive childhood? See this show.

radio city christmas spectacular rockettes
In this number, the Rockettes dress up as Santa. Pretty funny to see these gorgeous, amazingly fit women masquerading as fat old men!

It is built for the attention span of the modern child. Set pieces have mostly been replaced by a gigantic movie scene. An entire scene revolved around a video game (I hated it. Don’t get me started.) We were even given 3D glasses as part of the viewing. Of course, I hated this on some level- let it be live performance! I didn’t come here to see a movie! I HATE 3D! Still, the holiday spirit was too over whelming for me to turn into a theatre-critic-grinch. I had to remind myself- it isn’t theatre, it’s a spectacular! Still, it’s a nice mix of modern and classic. Many of the scenes, like the Toy Soldiers above, have been performed for generations. The last scene is a gigantic nativity complete with real sheep and live CAMELS.

radio city christmas spectacular
The cast sings “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. It is astonishingly unPC for 21st century New York City.

It was certainly an enjoyable show, an enjoyable morning. Worth any disease I caught from the sniffling children around me. Now I’ve seen a spectacular, seen a show at Radio City Music Hall, seen The Rockettes. When I go home for Christmas (and I am this year!) I’m going to try to dig up my old Barbie. The nostalgia of childhood is delicious at this time of year, isn’t it? Makes me want to visit Santa himself….

Radio City music hall

Have you ever seen this show? What’d you think?

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

8 thoughts on “Christmas Clichés: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

  1. I’m a little jealous, I always wanted to go to a Rockettes show. I always wanted to be a Rockette, and while I can kick myself in the nose pretty easily I am, alas, an inch too short to be a Rockette. My dreams have been ruined.

  2. I’ve never seen the show, but your description makes me want to see it. Live shows are wonderful because they make you feel like you’re a part of the show, in a way.
    I remember playing with Barbies. I think I even had one of those pink Barbie lockers to store all the little outfits in.

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