3-D animation and digital projections enhance the annual holiday attraction headlined by The Rockettes
BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Longtime readers may recall that I have been attending the Christmas show at Radio City Musical Hall since I was a kid living on Kinderkamack Road in Oradell back in the 1950s.
My boyhood home was replaced long ago by a Triple-A of North Jersey agency. But the Music Hall’s annual show goes on, greatly altered since the ones I first enjoyed.
The 2011 “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” which opened Wednesday at the ever-glorious Music Hall, is noticeably different than last year’s edition.
An awesome new 3-D sequence, some enhanced digital projections that cover the theater’s sunburst proscenium in moving images and other supplementary razzle-dazzle bits freshen up the entertainment for the younger generation. But some of the old favorites still remain on the 90-minute program for us geezers to enjoy.
Director-choreographer Linda Haberman wisely has retained traditional essentials like the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” (which dates back to 1933!) and fairly recent crowd-pleasers like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” intricately tapped out by The Rockettes.
This year, that cute rag doll number the dancers did in Santa’s workshop has been replaced by a 3-D video game sequence that’s mighty impressive. Dressed in green and gold superhero costumes, The Rockettes battle the 3-D animated likes of flying humbugs and ice monsters. It’s a clever interactive combination of live performers, colorful animation and effective music.
Haberman modifies the staging here and there in numbers like the “New York at Christmas” sequence – that’s the one with the big Grey Line sightseeing bus – but essentially the routines kept from previous editions remain the same, including the reverential “Living Nativity” tableau.
Those leggy Rockettes appear to be in excellent precision form, as usual, and it’s a pleasure to see how their trademark scissors-kick flourish still brings down the house.
So expect some things blissfully old and some things delightfully new in this edition of the “Spectacular,” which continues to live up to its title. There’s nothing like it in this wide world.
“The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” continues through Jan. 2 at Radio City Music Hall, 50th Street at Sixth Avenue, New York. Call 1-866-858-0007 or visit www.radiocitychristmas.com.